This timeline shows how the European Union (and preceding European Community) enacted crime prevention and radicalisation prevention, between 1987 and 2020. We show that pre-emptive interventions were applied in crime prevention long before they materialised in counter-terrorism work. Like our other timelines, this demonstrates that terrorism was not understood to follow the same pathways as ‘ordinary crime’ by the EU, until the discourse of ‘radicalisation’ emerged after 9/11. Subsequently, there was a rapid acceleration of the preventive regime – with crime prevention and terrorism programs switching from a group-based focus to intervening on individuals presenting ‘risk flags’.
We identify three, colour-coded ‘stages’ of prevention in the EU’s oeuvre:
🔵 Represents a traditional approach to security through a criminal justice approach, where criminal actors are framed as separate and distinct from the communities that are to be protected (not immanent within them). Prevention measures are designed to prohibit criminal behaviour that has already materialised
🟢 Social groups are identified as ‘at-risk’ of (or vulnerable to) becoming future offenders, requiring preventative interventions to rectify their present-day vulnerability/disadvantage. Threat and victimhood are blurred, at the level of social groups.
🔴 Particular individuals are identified as ‘at-risk’ of (or vulnerable to) becoming future offenders, requiring preemptive interventions through local and self-learning multi-agency networks. Threat and victimhood are blurred, at the level of the individual.