Top psychologist says there’s “No certainty” terror offenders can be “cured”

The psychologist behind the United Kingdom’s main deradicalisation programme for terror offenders says we can never be sure if the terror attackers have been “cured”.

In conversation with the BBC, Christopher Dean told the broadcaster some terror offenders who take part in his Healthy Identity Intervention (HII) scheme appear to regress because of their uniquely complex identities.

Mr. Dean has spoken out after Healthy Identity Intervention participant Usman Khan stabbed two people to death near London Bridge on 29 November before being shot dead by armed police officers.

Usman Khan

Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, Mr. Dean said the work was complex because the offenders were different from almost all others in jail.

He said: “The two main aims of healthy identity intervention are primarily to try and make individuals less willing or prepared to commit offenses on behalf of a violent extremist group cause or ideology,

“If we can reduce someone’s relationship or identification with a particular group, cause or ideology, that in itself may have an impact on whether they’re willing to offend or not.”

He said that some offenders he has previously worked with needed 20+ sessions to show any positive signs of change due to their deep indoctrination into their beliefs.

Mr. Dean said: “We see some individuals who may have been part of a group for many years or have been invested or identified with the cause for many years. [Leaving that group] is an incredibly difficult thing to do,

“Sometimes offenders will sit opposite you and say, ‘So you’re here to de-programme me?’

“It’s almost like a robotic term in that we’re going to simply download everything in your head, and we’re going to pump it full of something else. And I don’t think that’s what we’re doing,”

One of the psychologists behind the United Kingdom’s main deradicalisation programme for terror offenders, Christopher Dean

He continued: “We’re asking people to kind of reconsider or re-examine the identity commitments in their life… why they may have bought into a particular cause and support in violence on behalf of that cause.

“This is something you can’t force people to do. It isn’t about telling someone you have to be this way, or this is how you have to be. Human behaviour doesn’t work like that.”

The Ministry of Justice has not commented or completed any work to test whether the HII scheme prevents reoffending or successfully tackles extremist behaviour.

Mr Dean who devised HII with his colleagues claimed it was not rolled out to offenders until an external panel of experts assessed whether it was clearly based on the best-available evidence about challenging extremist mindsets.

The psychologist claimed it would be unethical to exclude some offenders from participating in the scheme, however, said: “I think we need to be careful about suggesting that interventions in themselves are the solution.”

This content was sourced from Unity News Network.

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