P & P Workshop: Staff training, Agen (FR), February 2018

P & P Workshop: Staff training, Agen (FR), February 2018

Agen, 13th -14th February, 2018

The Workshop, that took place in Agen, has been organized by the French Prison Administration Department (DAP), one of the Project partners. This Workshop aimed at sharing and comparing training activities which are implemented, in order to raise awareness among personnel on radicalisation and violent radicalisation in prison.

The first day of this Workshop was spent to visit thoroughly the French National School of Penitentiary Administration and later the program of the initial training and the updating courses for the penitentiary personnel has been presented. Remy Siret, an engineer specialized in the multimedia sector, responsible for the multimedia learning and head of pedagogical laboratory on digital technology, opened the proceedings of the Workshop and presented the platform for e-learning courses and the online resources which are currently used in the National School of Penitentiary Administration.

Following the opening greetings from Naoufel Gaied, head of the Mission to counter violent radicalisation, Hugues Belliard, vice director of French Directorate General for training, introduced the starting training courses for the French Penitentiary Police Officials. Instead Malika Kanyinda, vice director of the Directorate General for training of the French Penitentiary Administration Department, introduced national training strategy to counter radicalisation. In particular, Mrs Kanyinda presented the using protocols of risk assessment, prevention and action against radicalisation, focusing the attention on the structural aspects of history and evolution of the French situation both from a social and a penitentiary point of view.

The French head stressed that after the terrorist attack in January 2015, the French DAP had to adopt  specific measures committing to the codification of security models and treatment of prisoners in order to prevent violent radicalisation. Ever since, French prison and probation services of the penitentiary administration got a lot of job done in a short period of time.

Mrs. Kanyinda presented various initiatives that had been implemented and focused particularly on “exit strategy” at national level. In fact, she remembered that decision-making processes and the procedure of directives implementation are divided by levels (national, regional and local) and the penitentiary services of prison and probation have to achieve security and treatment basing on a wide range of skills and jobs. Multidisciplinarity is a fundamental principle in organising and managing at a central, regional and local level.

Malika Kanyinda illustrated how countering radicalisation is a procedure that, in the French penitentiary administration experience, is divided into three part: detection, assessment, response[1] . Since 2000, the French DAP has established indicators of proselytism that evolved in the following years. Starting from 2015 these indicators has been defined as a national strategy composed by two main development principles: radicalisation countering and penitentiary intelligence services.

Rehabilitation programmes address to detainees and prisoners involved in a radicalisation process. Radicalisation countering has been developed through three actions aimed at:

  • Facilitating detainees disengagement from violence
  • Implementing training for penitentiary and probation personnel
  • Developing guide lines (risk assessment, strategy of exit,…)

Mrs. Kanyinda explained how, depending on the profile of detainees and internees, the French DAP has distinguished three levels of prevention:

1.  First level of prevention:

It Is realized before and a priori of a radicalisation process. It is addressed to all citizens, to particularly vulnerable people and/or to those who can be exposed to an extremist ideology. The first level of prevention is put into effect with a series of activities aimed to counter conditions that can support radicalisation leading to violence and also aimed to prevent the starting of a possible process of radicalisation. A few examples of these actions are represented by programmes promoting democratic values, discussions and conferences, media literacy, workshops on how living together, gender equality, relationships with public authorities and fight against social and educational marginalisation.

2. Second level of prevention:

It is addressed to detainees and prisoners involved into a radicalisation process. These kind of measures aim at interrupting the radicalisation process and preventing possible violent acts accounted for an extremist reason. Prison and probation services draw to develop strategies of disengagement from violence supporting the development of critical thinking, ecc.

An example of measures is represented by the program which encourages disengagement from violence through evidences of interested parties (educators, victims, experts…). These measures put together individual and shared activities.

3. Third level of prevention:

The goal is to prevent violent recidivism based on an extremist ideology. It is addressed to terrorist groups and/or to groups in which has rooted an extremist ideology. Contrary to first level of prevention, the third level of prevention tries to implement a customized program. In order to improve these three levels of prevention, the French DAP has supported services of “prison and probation” developing two strategies:

  1. multidisciplinary approach
  2. management of applied researches on the subject
  •  Multidisciplinary approach consists in recruiting a “two-member support” i.e. a team composed by a psychologist and an educator who received a special training on radicalisation. They are qualified for use of VERA 2R protocol. These two skilled people have to cooperate closely to carry out a common analysis of detection, risk assessment, exit strategy … (detainees and internees).

This two-member group is a part of probation services and if required, they also support, along with their experience, the probation officials (advices, analysis, partnership, training…) and other personnel (penitentiary police, officers, directors of penitentiary institutes, directors of probation services…).

Furthermore, in every probation service at local level there is surveillance personnel who received a specific training on radicalisation. They are charged with the follow-up of prisoners accused or sentenced for terrorism.

They also support their colleagues providing advices and analysis on radicalised prisoners. The two-member group and the properly trained surveillance personnel take part in multidisciplinary meetings in order to exchange information related to different cases of radicalised prisoners whit whom they have to deal.

Penitentiary police officials and social workers also take part in the meeting which give opportunity to assess the risk represented by radicalised person. The staff provides also an exit strategy customized on probationers needs.

  •  Applied research carried out: (the example of prevention program)

This strategy is realized through:

1. Shared program in prison (and perhaps, starting from 2018, in an open environment) called “prevention program for violent radicalisation” (PPRV). The prevention program actually is implemented in 27 prisons (and perhaps it will be applied in 78 prisons during 2018).

Different institutional actors take part in this program of disengagement from violence. This program, addressed to detainees, lasts at least 3 months and involves individual interviews and group-based sessions. Group-based sessions are managed and coordinated by a single skilled person who firstly defines goals and topics to be covered in each session. Shared sessions are discussion groups (questions and interactions) managed by skilled people. Basing on the topic of the session, they decide to change the skilled person in relation with the theme and program from time to time. There are different interested parties that take part to the program of disengagement from violence.

2.  An external program: two type of programmes have been designed within the prison thanks to the support of researchers who have cooperated with prison and probation services (first-line professionals):

  • First level of prevention: a shared program of few days on the topics of citizenship, secularity, cohabitation through individual actions supported by volunteering in NGO.
  • Second level of prevention (addressed to radicalised people and terrorists): an individual and “face to face” program. It consists in 40 interviews, divided into modules based on goals to be faced for the disengagement from violence. It also offers different tools and supports for each conversation and goal.
  • Third level of prevention: a shared program which lasts few months and has goals such as: supporting social integration promoting double participation and developing a critical judgement towards responsibility of its actions.

The last speech of the first day of Workshop is that of Raja Alaoui, representative of the non –governmental organization Arthamis. She dwellt on mentoring training, explaining that another strategy of the administration has been that of outsourcing a mentoring service to an NGO which could strengthen the activities carried out by the French DAP.

They asked to NGO to start a mentoring program. A mentor is responsible of a maximum 5 prisoners. At the moment, this program is realized only in the area of Paris but it will be extended to other cities and penitentiary offices. The Convention signed with Arthamis over two years ago is renewable. Disengagement from extremist violence and social reintegration are the goals to be reached through mentoring. The program is addressed to those under the age of 18 accused or sentenced for terrorist acts or identified by probation services as radicalised, before or after the sentence.

The particular feature of this measure is the implementation in an open environment together with probation service according to the decision of judicial authority. The “probationers” are followed by a team of educators, psychologists, religious mediators and psychiatrics (who participate only to the assessment and do supervision). The follow-up is individual, at least six hours per week for the first six months, mixing interviews and support for reintegration. The contact with family is fixed and interviews take place in the offices of Probation Headquarters (Rive) where detainees complete administrative formalities, play sport and practice other hobbies.

The second day of the Workshop saw more general interventions to present penitentiary system of the different Countries which take part in the Project, model of dynamic security and open regime and training program related to the courses for penitentiary staff to counter violent radicalisation and terrorism. In particular, Danut Ilie as the representative of penitentiary administration of Romania, has provided a presentation on open and semi-open regime and on penitentiary situation in Romania related also to the new method of dynamic security currently used in Romanian penitentiary institutes. The Portuguese delegation too has presented later the model of dynamic security and the courses initiated on how counter violent radicalisation of terrorism.

Maria Luisa Tattoli, as the representative of Italian penitentiary administration, have provided a presentation on training activity of professional updating initiated by the Italian Directorate General for Training since 2010 and currently in progress. This training activity presents three different editions of courses that last three days which are promoted throughout national territory and addressed to penitentiary police and to other professional profiles of administration. These courses take place in the seven training school of the penitentiary administration.

Mohamed Chirani, religious mediator in France, has covered French cultural and religious aspects analysing deeply the elements of Islam and how fundamentalism can degenerate into violent radicalisation attitude of Islamic terrorism.

Iris Naert has introduced Belgian training program of courses on radicalisation initiated for penitentiary prison and probation, describing also activities and training intervention methods.

In the end, in their presentation, Michael Dewaele and Fabien Muller have introduced courses and training activities to counter violent radicalisation of terrorism promoted by French Ministry of the Interior. They have explained that among seven thousands detainees in 187 penitentiary institutes all over France, only 512 are detained for terrorism and 1,100 have been identified as radicalized. It is to remind that actually in France only the prison in Lille-Annoeullin, situated in the northern part of the region, provides a completely gated wing separated from the rest of the prison. This wing is placed under high-security due to the presence of 19 radicalised detainees.

Michael Dewaele explained that the model of Lille-Annoeullin prison would be reproduced in other French prisons. Detainees will be monitored in these isolation areas by specialized staff. In order to avoid “contamination” and proselytism, they could never come across other non-radicalised detainees. They must follow in little groups, made of 3 or 5 people, the anti-radicalisation programs described above and carried out by psychologists and educators. It is also considered the establishment of four new centres for the detainees assessment of radicalisation level in Vendin-le-Vieil and Condé-sur-Sarthe prisons.

The fundamentals is to test, over a 4 month period, the detainees divided into groups of 12 in order to define dangerousness and decide in which kind of cell and section they are sorted. The objective is analysing 250 detainees per year. There are already three centres in the prisons of Paris, Osny and Fresnes and Fleury-Mérogis which the biggest prison in Europe. Apart from the French model in which the particular urgency due to the number and to the increasing violence of radicalised detainees, led to fulfil promptly measures of the new national plan of radicalisation prevention[2].

By the comparison with the partners of the Project, the aspects of the specific training on radicalisation for staff can take place as well as the model of dynamic security carried out in the prison management of the penitentiary institutes in various countries.

Historically in France, nationalists committed violent acts of extremism in order to draw attention on separatism causes, but once they had been imprisoned, they did not experience attitudes of proselytizing nor recruiting. Mainly, these nationalists developed a passive resistance without proselytizing but this strategy caused the spirit of contamination. However, no intervention technique to counter this aspect of radicalisation found an adequate response by penitentiary and probation services. Another type of extremism, a religious one, became clear in the 80s and 90s. Basing on the principle of French secularity, religion is excluded from the republican way of thinking. Consequently, in France there is a strict separation between State and religion that can be considered as a private and ethic fact. After the terrorist attacks in Paris in 1995, Islamic extremists belonging to the Islamic Salvation Front have been sentenced to have committed terrorist attacks. These people have been condemned to long term punishments that they are actually serving in prison. It is interesting to stress the fact that proselytism phenomenon has been detected for the first time in prison and not in the society. Only after, the same proselytism phenomenon has been identified in the French society.

 France will create 1,500 new places in prisons to isolate radicalised detainees and to house jihadists coming back from Syria and Iraq. 450 places of these 1,500 will be created before the end of the year. This is one of the measures of the new plan of radicalisation prevention presented by Edoaurd Philippe. Penitentiary staff is really waiting for the creation of spaces for radicalised detainees since they have been reporting for weeks the suffered attacks by particularly violent detainees.