Developing new ways to understand counter-terrorism strategies

Conference paper


Brady, E. 2022. Developing new ways to understand counter-terrorism strategies.
AuthorsBrady, E.
TypeConference paper
Description

This paper is based on the research carried out for a PhD thesis which was completed in November 2022. Its aim was to improve our understanding of the effectiveness of counter-terrorism strategies. A number of impactful studies over the years have identified the need for complex and empirical research based on original data rather than the more common literature review approach often taken to the topic. While the lack of such research has been lamented, few researchers have undertaken the challenging task of measuring the effectiveness, impact or performance of these strategies. Without such studies, understanding of what works or doesn’t work cannot be developed, and we rely on biased and politicised views and anecdotes to judge these strategies. Ultimately, more research which is independent of Government is needed. The research carried out for the project took a mixed methods approach to better understand the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, holistically. Rather than focusing on one or two of the workstreams, a common focus in current research, it analysed the strategy as a whole, looking at Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare through a mix of UK Government publications, data reports, post-terrorist event reports, independent research publications and academia to develop a robust understanding of the data and the perspectives of strategy. Elite interviews and public opinion polls were also part of the data collection process, and provided a multi-dimension understanding of the strategy. This paper will discuss the findings of the research as well as the mixed methods approach taken, emphasising the importance of the creation of an analytical model to measure the performance of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, in particular. First, the paper will present the state of the field, as well as the challenge of measuring the effectiveness of counter-terrorism strategies. Following this it will outline the methodology adopted for this research. It will show the advantage of using a variety of data collection tools which can create a multi-dimensional understanding of the complex phenomenon that is counter-terrorism. Following a brief exploration of the findings of this qualitative research, the paper will present the analytical model which is used to explore the performance of CONTEST, answering the question of whether CONTEST is effectively addressing the threat of terrorism in the UK. It is hoped that the model can be used as a first step towards understanding counter-terrorism activities and strategies more widely, and while likely controversial in its current form, it is believed that the subsequent debate will contribute meaningfully to the field of counter-terrorism research.

KeywordsCounter-terrorism; Evaluation; Mixed-methods; Terrorism; UK
Year2022
ConferenceCurrent Themes in the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence
File
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttps://societyforterrorismresearch.org/conferences
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Jun 2022
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/91108/developing-new-ways-to-understand-counter-terrorism-strategies

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