Tag Archives: community

Researchers (l-r) Professor Paul Thomas, Professor Michele Grossman, Kris Christmann and Dr Shamim Miah

Community reporting of violent extremism

Pictured above (l-r): Professor Paul Thomas, Professor Michele Grossman, Kris Christmann and Dr Shamim Miah

The first people to suspect or know about someone becoming involved in planning acts of terrorism, including involvement in overseas conflicts, will often be those closest to them.

While these friends, family and community insiders offer a first line of defence, very little is known about what it means to them to report the potential involvement of an “intimate” in violent extremism. This means that ‘intimates’ reporting is currently a critical blind spot in international attempts to counter violent extremism.

Community reporting thresholds

Professor Paul Thomas
Professor Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas, who is Professor of Youth and Policy at the University of Huddersfield, has researched a wide range of community issues, including the Prevent programme that is designed to halt extremism. Now, he and Visiting Professor Michele Grossman (Deakin University , Melbourne, Australia) have together headed a major new research project titled Community Reporting Thresholds. The research was funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) and intended to develop an earlier Australian study by Professor Grossman.

Logo box CMYK

The research team, which also included University of Huddersfield researchers Dr Shamim Miah and Kris Christmann, carried out a national series of in-depth interviews where interviewees from communities were taken through a series of scenarios based on real-life cases. They were asked what their feelings would be, what dilemmas they would face and what course of action they would take if they had information about a relative or friend involved in terrorism. The researchers also interviewed professional practitioners, including counter-terrorism police officers, Prevent coordinators based in local authorities and key workers from Muslim community organisations.

Community response

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One key conclusion arising from the research is that reporting to the police is such a grave step that most community respondents would only do so after a staged process. First, they would attempt to dissuade their ‘intimate’, and also take counsel and guidance from family members, friends and trusted community leaders. Some younger respondents would also share concerns with lecturers or teachers. If those concerns needed escalating, the research showed that people want to report to the local police, not counter-terrorism specialists. They also wish to do so in person, so that they could assess how seriously their report was being taken and to enable discussion. This suggests that training all police personnel to respond appropriately would be beneficial to effective reporting. Telephone hotlines were not seen as appropriate for non-emergency concerns.

Supporting those who come forward

The project report makes a sequence of recommendations, such as the localisation and personalising of the reporting process and the development of support mechanisms for people who make reports. “It is important there is a response that’s more about welfare, safeguarding and counselling for both the person and the people doing the reporting,” Professor Paul Thomas. Officials from national and local government and policing organisations attended the research findings launch events and the team is now in discussions about how the findings can support improved policy and practice.

Following the launch of the UK project findings, the international dimension of the work expanded further when Professors Thomas and Grossman visited Ottawa at the invitation of the Canadian government to hold talks with officials, senior police officers and academics to discuss carrying out a similar research project in Canada. Colleagues in the USA are also taking a key interest in the findings, in recognition of the international importance of this topic.

Social housing in Brazil's Porto Alegre

Measuring quality in urban design and planning

Housing quality represents a key challenge in different areas across the world, with multi-disciplinary and cross cutting implications between urban policies and governance, sociology, psychology, planning, architecture and the built environment.

To address this subject, among others, the University of Huddersfield recently hosted a multi-disciplinary conference, Regional Urbanism in the Era of Globalisation, organised by the University’s Centre for Urban Design, Architecture and Sustainability.

Regional urbanism in Brazil

Dr Ioanni Delsante with the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul's Dr Luciana Miron
Dr Ioanni Delsante with the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul’s Dr Luciana Miron

Dr Ioanni Delsante from the University of Huddersfield and Dr Luciana Miron of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) presented a paper at the conference dealing with a project in Porto Alegre (Brazil) named PIEC, which has delivered social housing, community buildings, facilities and public spaces. The paper addresses the need for a shared evaluation of the outcomes of urban projects, taking into account the views of the experts as well as the aspirations of the people living there.

The successes and setbacks of the City Entrance Integrated Program (PIEC) have made it a valuable case study for experts in urban design.  Dr Ioanni Delsante, Reader in Urban Design at the University of Huddersfield, has taken a special interest in the project.

Public space and playground in PIEC project, Porto Alegre (Brazil)
Public space and playground in PIEC project, Porto Alegre (Brazil)

The University of Huddersfield has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Porto Alegre’s UFRGS and Master’s students at Huddersfield have paid research visits to the Brazilian city – which has a population of almost 4.5 million – and Dr Delsante continues to work closely with UFRGS.

Future research with China

The UK and China face major challenges in terms of sustainable urbanisation and urban regeneration, especially in residential and deprived areas.

Dr Ioanni Delsante’s future research will evaluate the effects and outcomes of urban policies, design and planning actions as a major priority, not only in light of the urbanisation process but also in respect of inner cities’ regeneration and transformation.

The timeliness of the research relates to major challenges in both partner countries, the UK and China. Years after the Urban Renaissance initiative, the UK is facing significant issues in terms of sustainable urbanisation and urban regeneration, especially in residential and deprived areas. Meanwhile, China’s 2014 urbanisation plan calls for urbanisation quality, including people-oriented urbanisation and embedding ecologically friendly approaches so as to carry forward cultural traditions.