Ter­ror of­fend­ers ‘may not be cured’

Manchester Evening News - - NATIONAL -

THE psy­chol­o­gist be­hind the UK’s main de­rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme for ter­ror of­fend­ers has warned it can never be cer­tain that at­tack­ers have been “cured”.

Christo­pher Dean said some ter­ror of­fend­ers who take part in his Healthy Iden­tity In­ter­ven­tion (HII) scheme ap­pear to regress due to com­plex rea­sons such as who they mix with.

Mr Dean’s com­ments come af­ter HII par­tic­i­pant Us­man Khan stabbed two peo­ple to death near Lon­don Bridge on Novem­ber 29.

Khan was a con­victed ter­ror­ist who had been a mem­ber of an al Qaida-in­spired group that plot­ted to blow up the Lon­don Stock Ex­change.

The HII scheme in­volves of­fend­ers like Khan at­tend­ing ses­sions with a psy­chol­o­gist who en­cour­age them to talk about their mo­ti­va­tions, be­liefs, iden­tity and re­la­tion­ship with so­ci­ety.

For­mer se­nior Home Of­fice of­fi­cial Ian Ach­e­son said at­ten­tion was drawn to short­com­ings of the HII pro­gramme in 2016.

Speak­ing on BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme, Mr Dean said in­di­vid­u­als can both progress and regress un­der healthy iden­tity in­ter­ven­tion.

“Some­times peo­ple move up two rungs, some­times in­di­vid­u­als may say I’ve had my doubts about this or that and they may be will­ing to speak to peo­ple, but equally they may go down rungs as well.

“They may come into con­tact with in­di­vid­u­als, they may go through a spell in life where they may feel, let’s say, ag­grieved again, where they may begin to re-en­gage with groups or causes or ide­olo­gies as­so­ci­ated with their of­fend­ing be­hav­iour,” he ad­mit­ted.

Mr Dean said some of­fend­ers he worked with needed 20 or more ses­sions to show signs of pos­i­tive change.

“We see some in­di­vid­u­als who may have been part of a group for many years or have been in­vested or iden­ti­fied with the cause for many years. Leav­ing that group is an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult thing to do,” he said.

He added that there is no guar­an­tee of suc­cess.

“I don’t think you can ever be sure that that’s oc­curred. I think you can get in­creas­ing ev­i­dence over time and par­tic­u­larly be­haviourall­y when peo­ple begin to be­have in dif­fer­ent ways, and that’s con­sis­tent over time and in dif­fer­ent places.

“Peo­ple can get more re­as­sured and con­fi­dent about change and progress that peo­ple are mak­ing, but I think we have to be very care­ful about say­ing some­one has to­tally changed or has been cured.”

Mr Dean added that he would have a “healthy scep­ti­cism” of the no­tion that there is a per­fect sys­tem to de­rad­i­calise ter­ror­ists.

He added: “I think we need to be care­ful about sug­gest­ing that in­ter­ven­tions in them­selves are the so­lu­tion or the only so­lu­tion or psy­chol­ogy is, but I think it’s about con­tin­u­ing to work to­gether in our learn­ing.”

Flow­ers left at Lon­don Bridge fol­low­ing Us­man Khan’s at­tack

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