Close menu


Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

'Trust Your Instincts – Act!' PREVENT Police Officers’ Perspectives of Counter-Radicalisation Reporting Thresholds

Dresser, Paul (2019) 'Trust Your Instincts – Act!' PREVENT Police Officers’ Perspectives of Counter-Radicalisation Reporting Thresholds. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 173. pp. 1-24. ISSN 1753-9153

Item Type: Article


The UK PREVENT programme aims to address radicalisation by identifying and supporting “at risk” individuals that are deemed vulnerable to extremism. Central to this process is the willingness of professional practitioners to report information to authorities, a duty consolidated through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. Despite this, little is known about the thresholds to report from a policing perspective. How risk performs beyond fixed indictors which pre-figure terrorism is also underexplored. This qualitative study provides insight into PREVENT police officers’ accounts of the reporting stage of PREVENT. A thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews identified the mobilisation of intelligence on the basis of “gut feelings” and “instinct”. Professional partners in particular were encouraged to trust their own subjective judgements in the absence of observable risk indicators and tangible evidence. A simplified and relational risk logic was said to provide several operational benefits, for example, aligning the PREVENT team with non-specialist actors. To unpack the data theoretically, this article is inspired by the affective turn in human and social sciences and measures the data against the notion of “affect”. Finally, the findings are supported by an examination of national counter-terrorism policing campaigns, PREVENT briefing documents, and Home Office initiatives. The key propositions therefore have wider implications for policy and practice.

PDF (“Trust Your Instincts – Act!” PREVENT Police Officers’ Perspectives of Counter-Radicalisation Reporting Thresholds)
Accepted Manuscript With Authors Details 2019.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB) | Preview

More Information

Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Critical Studies on Terrorism following peer review. The article is currently in press (forthcoming).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Prevent, counter-radicalisation, policing, gut feeling, instinct, risk, affect
Depositing User: Paul Dresser


Item ID: 10543
Identification Number:
ISSN: 1753-9153
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Paul Dresser: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2019 11:35
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 10:45


Author: Paul Dresser ORCID iD
Author: Paul Dresser

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society
Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Community and Youth Work
Social Sciences > Criminology
Social Sciences > Sociology

Actions (login required)

View Item (Repository Staff Only) View Item (Repository Staff Only)