A NORTH-EAST academic says efforts to combat radicalisation are flawed with police officers’ own accounts suggesting luck plays a prominent part.

Dr Paul Dresser’s research found that the Government’s much vaunted ‘Prevent’ strategy – designed to support people at risk of joining extremist groups and carrying out terrorist activities – is being hindered by a lack of partnership work among police and professional organisations.

Dr Dresser, a lecturer in criminology at Sunderland University, said officers faced challenges in trying to establish collaborative counter-terrorism working.

This included competing organisational objectives, contrasting perceptions of a person’s vulnerability, high staff turnover with partner institutions and a lack of trust in Prevent by professional partners working in education, criminal justice, faith, the charity sector and health.

Dr Dresser, who has published a report outlining his findings, interviewed officers involved with Prevent and said in some areas where Government funding was not a priority financial resources needed to develop full-time partnerships was lacking.

He said: “As a result officers relied on the goodwill of certain individuals within partner agencies to willingly engage with police.

“Overall, the research draws attention to the difficulties of achieving harmonious, joined-up methods of counter-terrorism from a police perspective.

“This challenges the notion that counter-terrorism is a delivered in an accepted, multi-agency fashion.

“In fact, officers’ accounts suggest that, to a degree, the practice of counter-radicalisation is, ominously, dependent on luck.”

The academic said more evidence based research was needed to evaluate how counter-radicalisation is practiced and understood, while taking into account the experiences of both police and other professionals.

Prevent requires schools, colleges, universities, health, local authorities, police, and prisons to consider the risk of radicalisation and put in place the necessary measures to safeguard individuals from that risk.

The Government says in 2016/17 a total of 169 community based projects were delivered as a result of Prevent, reaching over 53,000 participants.

This includes workshops to build critical thinking skills amongst pupils, teaching parents about e-safety and working with youth groups to challenge extremist ideas.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We are clear that Prevent is working and has successfully stopped hundreds of vulnerable individuals being drawn towards radicalisation.

“Prevent works best when delivered in partnership, which is why we work closely with local authorities, police and communities.

“As set out in the revised counter-terrorism strategy, published this week, Prevent activity and resources will be focussed in those locations where the threat from radicalisation and terrorism is highest.”