P & P Workshop: Risk Assessment tools – Sofia, January 2018

P & P Workshop: Risk Assessment tools – Sofia, January 2018

 Sofia, 17th – 19th January 2018

The workshop  began with welcoming and introduction words by the Director General of General Directorate “Execution of Sentences”. He pointed out that radicalization is not a great problem in Bulgaria but the country should be prepared for the new tendencies in Europe and the new threats. The Director General finished his speech with the statement that the project is a good starting point for research of the processes and confirmed his assurance that it will be successful.

Prof. Prodanov – Deputy Minister of Justice welcomed all the participants and underlined that we should create a unified system of security. Our work with Ministry of Interior should continue as well as the successful cooperation. Radicalisation in Bulgaria is in an initial stage and this is the moment when we should begin to fight it.

Assistant Prof. Marin Stanchev – Ministry of Interior of Bulgaria  talked about the signs of terrorist activity. The themes he discussed were about terrorist planning, most seen terrorist acts, means for preventing an attack and finding of a surveillance (see Annex 1).

What terrorist need is: precise information, surveillance, objects, planning and implementation.

Frailty of terrorists: finding of observers and contra-surveillance.

Cycle of an attack: knowledge about the enemy; mutual tendencies; way of surveillance, same as in the security services:

  1. Choice of objects in advance
  2. Initial surveillance
  3. Final choice of objects
  4. Surveillance before attack
  5. Planning
  6. Rehearsal
  7. Implementation
  8. Escape and exploitation

Terrorists succeeded in most cases. They should be stopped in the stage of planning.

Michele Quinto from the Penitentiary Police in Italy started his presentation with the statement that in Italy the analysis and study of the phenomenon of radicalization and proselytism is articulated by the Prison Administration, on three different levels. The first level, which groups prisoners convicted by crimes related to international terrorism and those of particular interest for acts that detect forms of proselytism and radicalization. The second level groups prisoners who have shown their proximity to the jihadist ideology by their behavior. The third level includes inmates who, given the general type of information provided by the prison, deserve study for further evaluation as to be included into the first or second level. The differences in the three levels are also in the frequency with which the staff sends their reports: 1 month for the first level; 2 months for the second level and every time the case requests it for the third level. These information, submitted by the staff of the prisons in the database for the management of prisoners, are immediately available on-line and the analysis of the data is ensured by the Central Investigation Unit.

They know that a change in behavior or a suspicious attitude is not a reliable indicator for a possible radicalization…Behavioral changes can be manifested in various aspects of everyday life in a prison. There will be an array of different elements pointing at radicalization, and for this reason it is necessary a careful and differentiated observation.  Normally, this requires a constant observation by the Prison Police and other prison workers. Essentially, indicators were identified in accordance to specific contexts, such as: religious practice, daily routine, organization of the prison room, behavior with other people and commentary on political events and current affairs.

The experience gained in the study of this phenomenon has shown that typical behaviors of radicalized prisoners are: to challenge or to not recognize the authorities; avoid proximity of non-Muslim inmates and refuse to share the prison room with them; celebrate in times of natural disasters occurring in western countries, or to the attacks carried out by terrorist groups, etc.

In the allocations of prisoners convicted of crimes related to international terrorism, the prison administration has avoided, in principle, the concentration in single prisons, preferring allocations where there is less concentration of inmates of Islamic faith. However the allocations of prisoners are individually assessed and reviewed at regular intervals also based on the analysis and monitoring conducted…

The information collected during the analysis of phenomenology, as well as helping, proactively, with the counter-terrorism instruments, are conveyed into a yearly report drawn up by the Central Investigation Unit.

In the annual report are highlighted, on a national scale and in detail, the following elements: Institutes with premises to be used for prayer meetings; practicing Muslim prisoners; the profession of Islamic faith and prayers,   and rituals intensification; the names of all those who access from the outside as an imam, cultural mediators and voluntary assistants; the names and behavioral reports of detainees who lead the prayer, that become promoters of the demands of other inmates, or that otherwise appear to be charismatic, and the names of the converted from other religions.

With the understanding that a more comprehensive and correct knowledge of Islamic culture ensures the positive impact in the management and relationship with the inmates of Muslim faith, free from stereotypes, preconceptions and prejudice, the Italian Prison Department started training initiatives, that are currently still in progress, pertaining radicalization and proselytism. These training events have a multi-professional characteristic, as they invest prison police, educators and prison workers; these events are also providing important assessment tools, offering a general overview of the most important differences between their culture and Islam.

The evaluation of best practices for the de-radicalization of a prisoner is detected based on the best results obtained with the largest number of subjects. It is in practice made an evaluation on the return obtained with the objective of enhancing the solution as suitable for the purpose. Actions always tend to prefer the targeted actions which, however, must take into account the available resources. In this sense, the help of the community, which can change depending on the area where the prison is located, constitutes a very important variable…

End of the first day

Mr. Adrian Neagoe– Penitentiary Service in Romania talked about their National Administration of Prisons, current situation, responses and the project R2Pris. He gave lots of details about Romanian prison system and inmates convicted for terrorism in Romanian prisons.

He inform us about DERAD Project which is being implemented at the moment and gave us information about another running project R2Pris. Radicalisation Prevention in Prisons (R2pris) project seeks to reduce radicalization and extremism inside prisons by enhancing the competences of frontline staff (correctional officers, educational staff and psychologists, social workers) to identify, report and interpret signals of radicalisation and respond appropriately. Bringing together international experts in the field of radicalisation and national prison administrations, R2pris project aims to offer an innovative training programme for prison staff on how to recognise and prevent the process of radicalisation inside prisons.


  1. Create awareness on the broad picture of terrorism, the mind set and narratives used
  2. Develop the tools and instruments for prison administration and line-level staff to recognize signs of radicalisation at an early stage within their specific facility
  3. Provide common, consistent and effective instruments to help staff report their observations to the appropriate intelligence staff
  4. Provide model procedures for intelligence staff to vet the data they receive from prison staff and to appropriately interpret it
  5. Establish a series of training programmes and tools for all staff within a prison to respond appropriately to potential vulnerable individuals at risk of radicalisation


  • A training course on how to detect and respond appropriately to potential vulnerable individuals at risk of radicalisation
  • An e-learning training course
  • A train the trainer course
  • A handbook and online repository of best practices on radicalisation prevention in prisons, than can be used by trainers
  • A methodological framework for analyzing deradicalisation and prevention of radicalisation strategies within prison
  • A radicalisation screening tool – assessment materials and guidelines for prison administration and line-level staff to recognize signs of radicalisation at an early stage within their specific facility

Mrs. Ilina Taneva – representative of the Council of Europe continued with Council of Europe principles and standards regarding radicalisation and violent extremism.

Council of Europe Action Plan for fighting violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism has two objectives: (a) to reinforce the legal framework against terrorism and violent extremism; (b) to prevent and fight violent radicalisation through concrete measures in the public sector, in particular in schools and prisons, and on the Internet.

The Guidelines and the Handbook for prison and probation services regarding radicalisation and violent extremism were adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 March 2016. The Handbook was approved by the CM on 22 March 2017 (see Annex 2).


Definitions in the Guidelines:

  • Radicalisation – dynamic personal process of acceptance of VE
  • Violent extremism (VE) – promoting, supporting or committing acts which may lead to terrorism
  • Dynamic security – a concept and a working method by which staff prioritise the creation and maintenance of everyday communication and interaction with prisoners based on professional ethics

The basic principles in the Guidelines are:

  • Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • Respect for data protection and privacy
  • Imprisonment as a measure of last resort
  • Good prison management
  • Selection, training and tasks of prison and probation services

Council of Europe Handbook:

  • VE and radicalised offenders have no one single profile, no size fits all
  • Identification – motivations, needs, grievances, attitudes, personal history, vulnerability
  • Screening, assessment, classification
  • Not necessarily a need to invest in new programs and methods – use resources better
  • Staff has a very important role – staffing issues come first, frontline staff

Mrs. Ivelina Georgieva – psychologist in Sofia prison presented the psychological work with inmates.

The psychological investigations of inmates are carried out when there is:

  • Initial assessment of the newcomers;
  • High risk of aggression;
  • Availability of personal and psychological alleviations;
  • Availability of dependences
  • Planning of the psychological interventions and studying the effect of them.

The psychological investigation of the newcomers is differentiated and screening. The differentiated is carried out when the inmate:

  • Has a life sentence;
  • Is sentence to more than 10 years of imprisonment

The screening investigation is carried out in all other cases.

It is necessary the psychological conclusion to have the following:

  • Data about the inmate;
  • Actual condition;
  • Data about psycho-diagnostics;
  • Description of the problematic behavior and personal crises;
  • Availability of supporting factors of his/her condition;
  • Available resources for managing;
  • Implemented psychological interventions;
  • Prognoses and recommendations;

In Sofia prison there are 4 people convicted of terrorism. There are mutual characteristics:

  • young people –22, 23, 24 and 27 years of age;
  • intellectual level over the average among inmates;
  • problems with identity;
  • introverts;
  • control of information.

The presentation of Mrs. Mina Georgieva from Ministry of Interior of Bulgaria was a continuation of the presentation of Ass. Prof. Marin Stanchev.

At the end of the second day Mrs. Delphine Verheyde – researcher answered questions about risk-assessment questionnaire and clarified the dates about next seminar in France.

Ms. Vivian Geiran – Head of Probation Service in Ireland started the third day with presentation about Radicalisation: A Probation Perspective from Ireland and the Council of Europe (see Annex 3).

She discussed her role in the Council of Europe as a Head of PC-CP, which was established in 1980 as advisory body to Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC). Since 2011: 9 members were elected by CDPC Plenary. High-level prisons, probation, administration, legal, research experts who have worked on programs of radicalization.

CoE handbook:

  • Scope, issues
  • Violent extremism & radicalisation process
  • Risk assessment
  • Managing rehabilitation
  • Safety and security
  • Connecting with families & communities
  • Capacity building in prisons and probation and interagency

She continued with overview of Irish Probation Service. The Probation Service deals with almost 15,000 offenders in the community annually (including c.8,000 assessments on offenders which assist judges in making decisions in criminal cases).
Two main work category areas:


  • Assessment Reports for Court
  • Assessment teams in major urban areas
  • Risk Assessment tools
  • Parole Board Assessment Reports

Supervision and Rehabilitation of offenders:

  • Court-ordered supervision: Probation (adults and young people),
  • Community Service, Fully suspended sentences.
  • Post-Release Supervision : Community Return, Part-suspended sentences, Life Sentence Prisoners (Parole), Sex Offenders

The workshop finished with a presentation of Mrs. Katherina Mihnevska who is a representative of Europol (a directorate in the Ministry of Interior in Bulgaria). She presented the structure of their directorate and how they communicate with international services. Due to lots of classified information, her presentation was brief.


Further Documentation: The Italian delegation’s Report