How to guides

Tackling far-right extremism
What is being done?

Choose the approach
  • Legal and repressive measures
  • Public order management
  • Prevention
  • Deterrence
  • Exit programmes
  • Information and public communications
  • Training
    and capacity building

Banning

Done via constitutional powers and legal frameworks to ban groups associated with fascism, Nazism and totalitarian/authoritarian ideologies.

Right to limit protest

Rights have been granted to the police and local government, for example to force far right protests outside the city centre or away from areas with high concentrations of ethnic minorities. Civil society has engaged in this by for example, denying far-right organisations the right to use their venues.

Hate crime legislation

Hate crime legislation has in some cases been accompanied by professional training to increase the skills and knowledge of police, prosecutors and judges.

Empowering victim groups

Providing minority communities with information about their rights and explaining legal frameworks on hate crime.

Take downs

This includes government take-downs of illegal content, and provision of reporting functions on sites like Facebook and Twitter. It also includes community mobilisation to remove stickers, posters and graffiti.

Anti-discrimination law

A legal framework to protect people from discrimination in wider society, as well as in specific contexts like the workplace.

Diversion

Methods to divert supporters attendance at far right events include raising awareness of the penal code, and active communication to those who are at risk of getting involved; liaising with key influencers (e.g. social workers and teachers) to encourage them to discourage individuals from attending; and diversionary activities planned to coincide with the far right event.

Reclaiming public spaces

Ensuring that extremists have minimal impact on the community, keeping demos away from areas with high concentrations of ethnic minorities and migrants, community businesses declaring themselves zones where extremists are not welcome, and rapid community responses to paint over graffiti or clean streets after protests.

Smart policing and demo management

Involves tension monitoring, communication of the march route to the public, and real-time communications about the progress of the event and smart use of social media. May also involve getting the community engaged in management of the demonstration.

Contact

Programmes to connect individuals across community divides, which might be implemented through informal social networking, sports clubs, professional mentoring. Might also involve community dialogue programmes to bring together individuals to discuss community grievances in a frank way.

Building purpose

Activities to ensure that at-risk individuals are empowered citizens and have a sense of goals and achievement. This might include one to one mentoring (professional or social), peer leadership programmes, and engagement through activities designed to empower – sports and music programmes.

Diversion

Dealing with youth street movements can be as simple as the provision of alternative social activities for susceptible youth, involving football, extreme sports, and outdoor activities, in some cases led by individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Education

A key feature of early prevention are educational programmes, including Holocaust education and religious education, or more targeted programmes teaching people about the multicultural history of a place and the plight of refugees. This might also include positive messaging in formats that appeal and reach younger people, including comic books.

Capacity building

This includes training and support for teachers and school staff, social workers, healthcare practitioners, as well as measures to engage with parents on this issue, for example through instituting parents support groups. Some governments have involved first-line responders and key influencers in government working groups and government programmes to counter extremism.

Public awareness

Raising public awareness of the problem through public statements by politicians and local leaders, and public communications of government threat assessments and strategy documents, but also through creative messaging and pop culture, like public concerts, art installations and sporting events. It also includes myth-busting stereotypes about particular ethnic and religious groups through campaigns and creative messaging.

Taking on hard issues

This is an area of prevention that is less often tackled, but all the more needed. It might be done through peer education programmes to train individuals to have hard conversations with peers who may exhibit extreme views, or public dialogue forums on tough and divisive issues, including foreign policy, immigration, and employment. It also includes programmes that engage directly with far-right extremists, rather than simply talk about them.

Maintaining a visible presence

Measures that have been tried include street patrolling and reconquering the “territory of the extremists”, by police and even by parents’ groups. It might also include public statements denouncing far right groups by celebrities, local and community leaders, and other prominent individuals respected by vulnerable individuals.

Emphasising consequences

This is often a feature of intervention work, but some countries are also working with convicted terrorist offenders and criminals in and outside of prisons to prevent further radicalisation.

Increasing social costs

Measures might include local businesses, shops and pubs declaring themselves racism and extremism-free zones, or inclusive zones, or spaces frequented by extremists (like pubs) closing during marches. It also includes clever methods like removing toilet access during demonstrations.

Provision of alternative activities

This includes provision of alternative activities, like adventure and thrill-seeking activities for those seeking excitement. It might also include support with re-locating, gaining employment, or finding a partner.

Exit programmes, 1-2-1

Exit programmes have experimented with different methodologies, but many involve intimate conversations with individuals to demonstrate the consequences of involvement, and empower the individual to identify ambitions and achieve them. Some methods involve directly dealing with the ideology and undermining it. Talks may be accompanied with psychological support, counselling, and offers to establish new social networks and continue schooling or facilitate employment.

Group interventions

Some countries have run successful initiatives to engage in dialogue with people on the peripheries of far-right movements to pull them away. They leave the core of the group intact. Once the core of a group loses its followers, the group is more likely to fall apart. This approach has dissolved youth gangs in Norway, Høje-Taastrup, Denmark and Zoetermeer, the Netherlands.

Online engagement with extremists

This has been done less, but some civil society organisations and individuals are experimenting with carrying out one to one conversations with extremists online. Some police forces are beginning to experiment with this as well.

Data gathering

This includes mapping exercises, joint analysis groups, and systematic monitoring of hate crime and collation of data from police, media, and civil society, but also consultations with NGOs and victims groups.

Public engagement and political leadership

This includes public debates on divisive issues and local dialogue initiatives to ensure communities have a space to air grievances and hear from their political leaders. It also includes public campaigns and initiatives to highlighting positive/alternative narratives, and to bust myths about particular groups. Most importantly, it also includes crisis communications following traumatic incidences.

Victim recognition

This includes political and media attention to incidences of hate crime, and public recognition of the problem, as well as initiatives to involve victims perspectives to shape training programmes on hate crime and this policy area.

Awareness raising

Methods to raise awareness of far-right extremism locally and nationally and to improve identification and reporting of far right incidences and hate crime to the police. This includes establishing clear lines of communication about where to go for help, for different communities.

Identifying right-wing extremism

Many countries are experimenting with training courses and training manuals on symbols and images associated with far right groups, and on signs of radicalisation. These are delivered to police, prosecutors and judges, and in some cases ‘key influencers’ like teachers.

Attitudinal shift among key professionals

In some countries there have been measures taken to promote tolerance within the police force, whether through added examination and courses on human rights at police academies, or training for officers, prosecutors and even teachers and politicians.

Building relationships

Some countries have specific policing roles designated to build relationships with the community, or with civil society, and invest in these roles. Some have designed networks to link government, police and civil society to improve relationships between all actors confronting extremism.

Engaging with extremists

Training is required for social workers, police, and key influencers to be able to confidently engage with extremists, face to face and in the online space. Methods are important, as saying the wrong thing can lead to counter-productive effects.

Understanding the law

Police, prosecutors and judges need strong understandings of the law, and how it can and should be applied in their work when it comes to extremism and hate crime.

Using social media

An emerging space with less ongoing work, often on an ad hoc basis. Police and civil society require training on the uses of social media in monitoring and countering extremism

Tackling far-right extremism
Getting it right

choose the professional
  • Exit and intervention providers
  • Police
  • Local authorities
  • Education and youth workers
  • Campaigners
    and activists
  • Victims supporters

Action

Getting it right

  • One-to-one interventions
  • Exit programmes
  • Online engagement
  • A non-judgemental approach
  • The right timing: on the way in or on the way out
  • Individualise support
  • Focus on the future, rather than the past
  • Confront ideology with caution, and when the time is right
  • Offer a competitive package
  • Prioritise staff well-being and personal safety
  • One-to-one interventions
  • Public order management
  • Diversion and alternative activities
  • Local dialogue
  • Engage the far right themselves to encourage change or self-policing
  • Demonstrate a willingness to protect vulnerable communities
  • Involve the community in public order management
  • Increase the social costs of participation
  • Identify and tackle community grievances head on
  • Strong communications: accessibility, transparency, consistency
  • Local dialogue
  • Public order management
  • Diversion and alternative activities
  • Reclaiming public spaces
  • Alternative narratives
  • Involve the community in public order management
  • Engage the far right themselves to encourage change or self-policing
  • Identify and tackle community grievances head on
  • Offer a competitive package
  • Strong communications: accessibility, transparency, consistency
  • Long-term planning rather than one-off events
  • Contact across community divides
  • Diversion and alternative activities
  • Educational programmes
  • Dialogue on hard issues
  • Experiential learning rather than simply myth-busting
  • Identify and tackle grievances head on
  • Creative use of film, visuals and new media
  • Amplify voices of credible messengers
  • Offer a competitive package
  • Peer education for a longer term impact
  • Long-term planning rather than one-off events
  • Take downs
  • Alternative narratives
  • Counter-narratives
  • Undermining myths and changing public
  • Undermining myths and changing public perceptions
  • Raising awareness of the problem
  • Training for key professionals
  • Positive alternatives to counter-demonstrations
  • Creative use of film, visuals and new media
  • Appeal to the emotions rather than just the facts
  • Amplify voices of credible messengers
  • Use existing platforms rather than setting up new ones
  • Public ownership or anonymity can be important
  • Quality over quantity of messages
  • Rehabilitation and reintegration
  • Empowering victims groups
  • Training for police, prosecutors and judges
  • A non-judgemental approach
  • Build a trusted reputation
  • Creative use of new media to reach communities
  • Police and prosecutor ownership of training
  • Storytelling as part of a survivor’s journey
  • Prioritise staff well-being

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