Viborg Municipality, Denmark has been a member of the SCN since December 2016. Preventing radicalisation is part of the general preventive work centred around the municipality’s Children & Youth Department & the SSP network. The department’s work has a strong focus on early years prevention (0-18) and the role of parents.
Viborg has had an SSP team (Schools, Social Services & Police) since 2000, building on the nationwide Danish SSP model which draws on strong inter-agency cooperation. The SSP model was originally developed in Denmark in the 1970s as a key crime prevention partnership between core agencies, with inter-agency information sharing protected under Danish law.
Specifically on radicalisation, Viborg also has a dedicated anti-radicalisation task force and standby unit within the municipality (Sted1), in keeping with the cross-sectoral set-up of Danish national policy in the field.
Since 2000, Viborg has continuously shared its expertise in the field with international partners through intra-EU projects and bilateral exchanges with Baltic countries, the Faroe Islands, Jordan and the U.S., in addition to Viborg’s SCN membership.
The Danish Government has a developed approach to countering violent extremism and preventing radicalisation. Key to the Danish strategy is empowering and working with local municipalities and strengthening multi-agency partnership at national and local levels.
Denmark’s 2009 national action plan set out initial national policy on prevention, drawing on a series of initiatives to promote international development and cooperation, increase domestic efforts against discrimination and intolerance, and ensure strong integration, intercultural dialogue and equality of opportunity. An updated 2014 national action plan placed further emphasis on the involvement of local authorities and civil society actors in prevention activities and the development new tools for prevention and exit work, tackling online radicalisation whilst also supporting those wanting to leave extremist groups.
The current Danish National Action Plan, launched in 2016, sets out existing national policy, including improved national and regional coordination and knowledge-sharing on prevention efforts, guidance and training for local police districts, and direct support to help municipalities develop their own local action plans. It outlines strict measures targeting foreign fighters and criminal groups and increased efforts to counter radicalisation in prisons and schools, as well as a greater focus on targeting specific at-risk groups and communities and strengthening local community prevention. It also demonstrates an enhanced international effort, which includes strengthening the Danish contribution to the global coalition on countering ISIL, greater information sharing on foreign fighters, and the support of international prevention projects, including through the Strong Cities Network.
A crucial part of the Danish multi-agency approach is the well-established networks of Schools, Social Services & Police (SSP), the networks of Prisons and Probation Services, Social Services & Police (KSP), and the networks of Psychiatry, Social Services & Police (PSP). Such multi-agency cooperation and associated frameworks for inter-agency information sharing is regulated by Section 115 of the Danish Administration Justice Act. This stipulates that authorities can share information about an individual if necessary to support cooperation in crime prevention or to support cooperation between the police, the social services and social psychiatry and mental health authorities in their efforts to identify and support socially vulnerable individuals. Information may not, however, be shared for the purposes of criminal investigations.
The Danish national strategy is led by a Government ministry and supported by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) through its Centre for Prevention.
Danish Interagency collaboration on CVE:
Preventing radicalisation is part of the general preventive work carried out in Viborg. From a political standpoint, the city’s approach starts with the Children and Youth Policy, which maintains that every child in Viborg has the right to be part of a strong and healthy community. The city believes that when this is achieved, children will not be at risk of participating in unhealthy or extremist behaviour.
Key tenets of Viborg’s prevention work include strong communities, a proactive access to work, creating sense of belonging, and a strong focus on the impacts of digitalisation. Fundamental for Viborg’s prevention strategy is its focus on children (0-18 years) and families. Viborg starts its prevention work at a very early age, with new-borns and their families. In a Danish context, this focus on early ages is unique.
In addition to the children, Viborg highlights the role of parents and encourages them to take responsibility for ensuring their children are part of strong communities. The city’s mantra is: “The best you can do for your child is what you do for community!” Thus, the role of parents and their importance in the social well-being of the children's community is a consistant focus for the city. The SSPs are integral to support for the city’s parents, holding 170 meetings annually with local groups of parents in day care and schools.
Another important element of Viborg’s efforts to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism is the establishment and maintenance of a 24/7 local hotline for those with concerns or in need of support.