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Police community engagement and outreach in a counterterrorism context

De-radicalisationDiscussions on PolicyRegionsWorld

Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter TerrorismJournal abstract
Police engagement of Muslim communities to prevent terrorism is fraught with tension. This paper presents results from in-depth interviews with members of the Australian Federal Police Community Liaison Team (CLT) to understand the practice of community engagement and the tactical and strategic considerations that are required when police engage Muslim communities. The interview data illustrate the different attributes of trust judged as essential to effective engagement by CLT members, with displays of integrity regarded as important. Data demonstrate how Australian Federal Police liaison officers navigate the fine line between intelligence gathering and community engagement, with the provision of intelligence seen as an outcome rather than an aim of effective outreach. Strategies to manage the community impact from counterterrorism arrests are explored, with the interview data indicating that forms of outreach have some inherent limitations due to the contingencies surrounding counterterrorism operations. The uncertainties and risks of engaging some hard to reach groups, such as Muslim youth are highlighted. Evidence of the outputs and outcomes of engagement efforts are illustrated, with the willingness of Muslims to voluntarily approach members of the CLT regarded as an important outcome. Broader lessons for counterterrorism community engagement are highlighted.

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