As violent extremism and terrorism continue to be a major concern and challenge for policy and practice in the modern world, they are a major focus of research for the Secure Societies Institute. SSI members, Professor Paul Thomas, are currently involved with projects focusing specifically on community reporting of terrorist involvement, different 'extremist ideologies' (e.g. Far-Right and Islamic extremism), 'radicalisation’ (e.g. identifying the 'push' and 'pull' factors involved) and the prevention of acts of terrorism in the UK (e.g. situational crime prevention). This work is conducted in partnership with a range of key stakeholders including: the North East Counter Terrorism Unit; the Centre for Research in Security and Terrorism; West Yorkshire Police, local authorities and civil society groups.

Community Reporting

Paul Thomas

Professor Michele Grossman

Professor Paul Thomas  from the University’s School of Education and Professional Development is working in collaboration with Professor Michele Grossman from Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.‌ Also working on the project are Dr Shamim Miah and Kris Christmann. Together they have developing the first truly internationally comparable data on the subject through the recently-completed UK study, which further and replicated the original Australian study. The tam is now hoping to develop a further replication study in Canada with support from Public Safety Canada.

‌‌‌The UK study used in-depth interviews with community members and with front-line professional practitioners to investigate barriers for community members sharing concerns about the involvement of an ‘intimate’ in violent extremism.

A key finding is that community members are primarily motivated by care and concern for their intimate when considering reporting.

The gravity of reporting to the police means that most community respondents would only report after a staged process. First, they attempt to dissuade the intimate, and also take counsel and guidance from family members, friends and trusted ‘community leaders’. Some younger respondents would also share concerns with lecturers or teachers, but most were dubious about confiding in a GP or health worker.

Community respondents want to report to local police, not counter-terrorism specialists. They also want to do so by face to face means, so that they could assess how seriously their report was being taken and enable discussion.

Telephone hotlines, especially the national Anti-Terrorism Hotline, were not seen as appropriate for a non-emergency concern, whilst social media was not trusted on security grounds.

Community reporters also want support and updates after reporting. Some respondents are unsure how to report, a perspective echoed by professional practitioners, who see national reporting mechanisms as confused and made more difficult by the controversial public image of Prevent.

 Graphic showing the logo of Community Reporting Thresholds (CREST)

Rethinking community reporting

The full UK research report is available for free from the CREST website at and it includes strategic considerations for future policy and practice.