Second IMPACT Europe toolkit design workshop took place in Brussels

Hosted by ISC Intelligence in Science and moderated by RAND Europe, the second of two IMPACT Europe toolkit design workshops took place in Brussels, Belgium, on 25 February 2015, providing the IMPACT Europe team with a valuable opportunity to discuss current counter violent radicalisation (CVR) interventions and their evaluation with practitioners from Belgium and Germany. The workshop thus fulfilled its goal of helping the IMPACT Europe team to gain a clearer understanding of the practitioner’s perspective on evaluating CVR intervention programmes.

Discussions at the workshop revealed the difficulties inherent in isolating the impact of individual interventions, with individuals and groups often being exposed to a number of different programmes and activities implemented by a mix of institutions. In this respect, the IMPACT Europe team not only learned that the diversity of programmes and actors involved in CVR work creates tangible difficulties with regard to information sharing and coordination, but that such diversity also poses a significant challenge when determining the causal link between a given intervention and observed changes.

Workshop participants also introduced the IMPACT Europe team to the different and sometimes conflicting aims actors engaged in CVR pursue, underlining the existence of different intervention logics and strategies to achieve the envisaged objectives of CVR activities. The IMPACT Europe team was thus once again reminded of the pressing need to design evaluations that can account for varying intervention logics, taking into account the complexity of the environment.

Discussing the different tools developed and/or used to monitor and measure the effects of CVR work, workshop participants highlighted that field workers were able to establish behavioural change among individuals they work with. However, workshop participants also told the IMPACT Europe team that it was often difficult for practitioners to capture any such changes in an abstract manner.

Another interesting point made by the participants in the one-day workshop was the highly dynamic nature of CVR work, with those who incite violence having shown an ability to quickly respond to new interventions and develop counter-measures. In this sense, CVR work is a moving target. The question is whether evaluation can keep up with the pace.

The Brussels workshop was the second of two workshops concerned with exposing the IMPACT Europe team to the practitioner’s perspective on evaluating CVR intervention programmes. The first workshop took place in December 2014 in Cambridge, United Kingdom.