A Systematic Review Of Post-2017 Research On Disengagement And Deradicalisation

John F. Morrison, Andrew Silke, Heidi Maiberg, Chloe Slay, Rebecca Stewart

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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An urgent need exists for an empirically grounded understanding of the processes that lead individuals to disengage and deradicalise from terrorism and violent extremism. It is only with such empirically driven knowledge that appropriate interventions and programmes to assist in the successful reintegration of former terrorists and violent extremists can be
designed, validated, updated and implemented. This report provides a systematic review of the post2017 research on disengagement and deradicalisation. After screening more than 83,000 documents, we found 95 reports which met the criteria for coding. This sample of reports was coded across eight core coding themes and a total of 123 individual variables. Through the process of a systematic quality review, 29 articles were identified as meeting the criteria for full thematic analysis. In addition to this, the 30 most heavily cited pre-2017 papers on disengagement and deradicalisation were identified to be used as a comparative sample for the post-2017 publications. The analysis of that collection has allowed us to
identify the major factors involved in these processes and to assess the extent to which knowledge and understanding is progressing in this critical field. Overall, the review found clear evidence of progress in our understanding of disengagement and deradicalisation. Comparison with the pre-2017 literature illustrates that valuable research is being conducted and published in the recent period using more robust research methods and which is providing new data for analysis and insight. The review found that research had identified a range of facilitative causes and barriers for disengagement and deradicalisation, though work is still needed to determine the weighting of these. Encouragingly, the review also found that the available evidence suggests that many interventions examined appear to have positive impacts. Relapse and recidivism occur but appears to be uncommon.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCentre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats
Commissioning bodyCentre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2021


  • disengagement
  • deradicalisation
  • deradicalisation programmes
  • terrorism
  • violent extremism

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