Dealing with terrorist threats through a crime prevention and community safety approach

Henry Shaftoe, Umut Turksen, Sara-Jayne Williams, John Lever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is based on discussion from the first of a series of five seminars organized by the European Forum for Urban Security. The seminar took place in Bristol on 28 and 29 September 2006. Over the 2 days, it was attended by 30 people, including police, municipal emergency planning officers, security specialists and academics. The seminar focused on what could be done to prevent terrorism, with some attention given to minimizing the harms and disruption caused by terrorist incidents. There was a critique of a purely “warfare” or deterrence approach, as well as attempts by governments to feed off citizen's fears and legislate their way out of the problem. It was recognized that the media can be counter-productive in their coverage of terrorist attacks and threats by fuelling fear and giving terrorists the publicity they desire. The theme that came out strongly from this seminar is that prevention through both situational and social interventions is the key to a sustainable reduction in terrorism. Another theme was the importance of communication, negotiation and conflict resolution as means to defusing existing terrorist threats. It was understood that there is a need to recognize “difference” and respect, within limits, that people should be allowed to hold different political views and cultural aspirations, as it is prejudice and intolerance that often fuels extremism. As the paper suggests, the skills and knowledge for both prevention and mediation already exist within local authorities and voluntary organizations and they are regularly used for effective crime prevention. However, many local authorities and government departments are hiving off terrorism as a separate topic to be addressed by others (notably the security services, police and emergency planning departments), rather than as dealing with it as a part of what they do already to prevent crime and minimize harms. This paper examines the possibility of an alternative approach based on crime prevention and community safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-307
Number of pages17
JournalCrime Prevention and Community Safety
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


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