Prevent radicalisation: YEIP project

Terrorism in the UK has long been a part of everyday life, from “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland to more recent concerns about the Far Right and Muslim Extremism.  It is perhaps this long history of threat that makes people in the UK more stoical about the treat of attack as they go about their everyday life.  It comes then as a surprise to hear the head of the UK Security Agency MI5 talking about an “intense challenge from terrorism”.

Whilst this is may be a new era of terrorism, the UK has seen its share of unrest.  Most famously, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) rose up to fight the British oppression of the Catholic Church in Ireland and fought for independence from Great Britain.  During the 1970s and 80s, (though the unrest started as early as 1910s), they bombed, killed and were killed in the cities of England.  They were marked as terrorists and the British Government reacted with force; legislative and physical.  As the death toll rose, in 1974 the UK passed the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provision) Bill which updated the court procedures and allowed for easier detention of IRA suspects and offenders.

More recently, the UK the strategy to prevent radicalisation of young people, known as “Prevent” has evolved from the original approach to dealing with the threat of the IRA of the 1970s and 1980s to the strategies we have today.  As a consequence it treats its subjects as risks to be managed rather than people with lives to live.  The challenge for policy makers is whether risk identification management, which only effectively kicks in once there are identifiable signs of risks is the most effectively way to reduce the intense challenge that terrorism presents?  Perhaps an approach that focusses on people during the pre-radicalisation phase is the way to go?

The Youth Innovation and Empowerment Project sets out to do just this by looking at the problem of youth radicalisation from the other end.  Rather than waiting for a young person to become a risk we can manage, YEIP proposes we adopt a Good Lives Matter model of identifying a young person’s goals and aspirations, effectively redirecting their interest to a positive outcome for their life.  There’s nothing new about this approach, my Grandfather would tell me as a child that “I had my whole life ahead of me”.  Of course that generation had been impacted by conflict and terror itself, and they knew the value of looking to the future to see a brighter day.

The Good Lives Model (GLM) is a strengths-based theoretical framework of offender rehabilitation (Ward& Gannon, 2006; Ward& Stewart, 2003). It builds on the assumption that individuals naturally seek to live good and fulfilling lives by seeking to attain a set of primary human goals. According to the GLM theory, offending occurs when individuals lack internal conditions (skills and capabilities) and external conditions. Internal conditions represent an individual’s skills or capabilities whilst external conditions refer to the opportunities and support needed to realise these. A lack of these conditions does not allow a person to pursue human goals in socially acceptable ways that are meaningful and non-harmful to others or to themselves (Ward & Brown, 2004; Prescott, 2013).

For more information on the GLM and YEIP visit the sections of the project website:

The IARS International Institute!
London, UK