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Dr. Holger Nitsch: “Detecting and preventing radicalisation requires trust-building efforts with communities”

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An interview with Dr. Holger Nitsch: “Detecting and preventing radicalisation requires trust-building efforts with communities”, published in CounteR newsletter #1.

What is the value for CEPOLIS from participating in the CounteR Project?

The University of the Bavarian Police and its research institute CEPOLIS are constantly trying to stay on top of to the latest developments and innovations in the field of security. Therefore, the research with international partners in EU-funded projects is a great advantage. Also, the combination of practitioners and academics of different scientific fields is of great value. As a research institute, we are interested in all topics, related to policing and security. Topics such as those tackled by the CounteR Project are of great interest for policing.

Tell us about your entity’s mission, history, and general achievements?

We started with international research low scale more than 10 years ago. Up until today we participated in a large variety of projects and, from each such initiative, we were able to learn more. We were also able to provide police with the latest developments, testing, getting new ideas, and involve some topics in our curriculum to enhance our education. We do expect from CounteR that the results will also contribute to this positive trend.

What is your experience with, or participation in other projects?

Our participation in international consortia and projects certainly enriches our exposure to various experiences. Such work definitely widens our network from an academic, but also from a policing / end-user perspective, which is quite positive. All participants learn from each other and the joint goal of a project is a challenge that usually all partners would like to successfully achieve. The interdisciplinary approach is also helping all partners to think outside their own boxes. Coming from a law enforcement agency, I can say that the end-user driven approach is much appreciated, especially in times of a pandemic.

CounteR’s key task is to develop an early-warning tool to be used in the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism: in your perspective, how will this contribute to a safer Europe?

The contribution will be very useful for various players in Europe. Again, from the end-user perspective, the relevant departments of the police will be hopefully able to use these tools in addition to the existing tools and methodologies. As radicalisation is a process, it is obvious that early warning can protect vulnerable people from getting radicalised and this process can be stopped and hopefully reversed at an earlier stage. This will support the current police work and will therefore contribute to creating a safer Europe for all its citizens.

From your experience, how can risks for radicalisation at the community level be detected and prevented?

To achieve this goal, there has to be a mix of different tools and methodologies to prevent vulnerable people from radicalisation and to create a safe society. Communication will be a very useful method and with regards to policing, community policing will be of great value to reach this. Furthermore, there have to be several trust-building efforts to create a common and trustful society. To stop radicalisation at an early stage and also to counter all forms of violent extremism is of importance to fulfil these aims. Tools that are developed through projects like CounteR will support these efforts in a very positive way and will help law-enforcement to prevent radicalisation and guarantee communities to be safer.

Dr. Holger Nitsch

Dr. Holger Nitsch is the Director of CEPOLIS Research Institute and the Director of the Centre for Excellence for Police and Security Research at the Department for Policing at the University of Public Services in in Bavaria/Germany. His specialisation, expertise and research interests cover terrorism, radicalisation, violent extremism, illegal migration, and cybercrime and organised crime.
Dr. Nitsch’s career includes work in the domain of antiterrorism for aircrafts and airports. Dr. Nitsch’s extensive project management experience includes projects such as PROPHETs (H2020) and of DroneWISE (ISFP). He also is a member of the CENTRIC advisory board and the Foreign Affairs Association, and has been awarded the position of an honourable professor.

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