Prisons programme to counter violent extremism

Staff trained to raise their own awareness and vigilance to counter the peril

In Summary

•  Prisons increasingly a breeding ground for radical teachings and violent extremism

• Prison system is educating staff about extremism and how to counter it. 

Correctional Services PS Salome Wairimu (Centre) during the launch of the awareness on violent extremism in prisons
PRISON EXTEMISM: Correctional Services PS Salome Wairimu (Centre) during the launch of the awareness on violent extremism in prisons

Kenya Prisons has rolled out an awareness raising programme to raise staff vigilance of violent extremism.  as part of efforts to contain the peril.

The move follows reports the prison system has become a breeding ground for radical teachings and violent extremism.

Officials on Tuesday rolled out the programme.

The Countering Violent Extremism in Prisons (CVE-P) Programme in Kenya was established in 2015 as a close partnership between the Kenya National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the Kenya Prison Service (KPS), and the Global Center on Cooperative Security (Global Center).

Prison services worldwide seek to optimise their approach to securely managing and rehabilitating terrorism-related offenders. A key consideration is whether prison staff have the understanding and skills to address this problem effectively, an official under the Global Centre on Cooperative SecuritY said.

Commissioner General of Kenya Prisons Brig John Warioba said more than 30,000 prison staff and new recruits have been trained across all of Kenya’s prisons and there is increased institution-wide understanding of preventing and managing violent extremism.

“KPS has acquired a team of 80 experienced trainers stationed across the country and the KPS training college has integrated CVE-P training curriculum for new recruits," Warioba said.

“We have increased information-sharing and coordination on terrorism concerns between prison stations and KPS headquarters,” he said

The official launch was attended by Correctional Services PS Salome Wairimu, director NCTC Rosalinda Nyawira and representatives from  embassies that support the programme..

Those present said they had identified the need to establish an institution-wide understanding of and approach to the issue of violent extremism across the prison service, from senior leaders to new recruits.

To build this baseline, experts from the NCTC, KPS, and Global Center developed and piloted the CVE-P Awareness Raising Course, and worked with carefully selected and trained KPS officers to deliver it to all 30,000 current officers and new recruits at more than 130 prisons.

The course was developed to cover the essential topics and issues that prison staff at all prison facilities should understand to prevent, recognize, and respond to violent extremism in prisons while upholding human rights standards and professional practice.

The targeted group was provided with skills and equipment needed to deliver the course to their colleagues effectively. This included the development of a CVE-P Trainer Manual in order to standardise and ensure the consistent delivery of the training.

The programme has been piloted, reviewed, and tested for effectiveness.

“Analysis of learning outcomes and monitoring data demonstrate  the course delivered by KPS trainers facilitates increased understanding of key topics around preventing and managing violent extremism among prison staff,” Wairimu  said.

She added the implementation of the training across all prisons in Kenya involved coordination at all levels of the KPS.

Briefing sessions established the buy-in, procedures, and ownership needed to facilitate hundreds of trainings across Kenya’s eight administrative regions, in addition to KPS and its training college.

She added quality control and monitoring data collected during every training showed positive results from prison staff on the applicability, usefulness, and anticipated impact of the training.

The combined effect of the training and the coordination of the programme across the Kenyan prison system has also generated a marked increase in information-sharing on terrorism cases and concerns between prison stations and headquarters, Warioba said.

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