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Unintended Consequences: Identifying the Impact of NaCTSO Public-Facing Products and Campaigns

Unintended Consequences: Identifying the Impact of NaCTSO Public-Facing Products and Campaigns.

Dr Paul Dresser

Wednesday 13th December, 5pm-6pm

In the UK, public-facing counter-terrorism products and vigilance campaigns have grown under the National Counter-Terrorism and Security Office (NaCTSO). NaCTSO is a police unit that supports the ‘PROTECT’ and ‘PREPARE’ strands of CONTEST (PREVENT and PURSUE being the other pillars [Booth et al., 2020: 2]). Vigilance campaigns in particular emphasise the public to remain vigilant and escalate information to authorities though little is known about growing public involvement in Counter-Terrorism Protective Security (CTPS) and national security practices beyond PREVENT (Rodrigo Jusue, 2022). Even less is known about the unintended consequences of NaCTSO’s guidance, products and communication(s) and the wider impact on minority groups. This talk explores the aforementioned knowledge gaps. Mixed methods were employed involving quantitative survey data of individuals that have completed CTPS training (N=683), and semi-structured interviews with counter-terrorism practitioners that deliver CTPS training (N=10). Documentary analysis of existing counter-terrorism campaigns constitutes the final element of data; this was used to challenge or support emerging research themes. The findings do not suggest greater saturation of NaCTSO’s products lead to an overly-alarmed public. Nor does greater saturation of CTPS products suggest receivers of CTPS training become desensitised to key information. Furthermore, this report did not find widespread notions of suspect bias across data sets, though there are public-facing engagement issues which are explored during this talk. Finally, we accept there are caveats with using a particularly selective sample and we acknowledge more research is warranted to examine how CTPS is ‘felt, lived through, sensed and borne by individuals and groups’ (Crawford and Hutchinson: 1186). We therefore reflect on policy and practice implications and provide future directions for research.  


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