Herramientas de valoración de riesgo


Under the definition of risk of violence, the tendency of a person to commit antisocial or criminal behavioral acts is established, in short, to predict the dangerousness. The objective of the analysis is to determine the content of risk assessment tools for radicalization under the methodological use of a literature review of professionals in the field at international level.


Violent extremism. Risk assessment tools. Dangerousness. Radicalization. Religious terrorism.


It is not the object of this analysis to establish a distinction between risk of violence and dangerousness, for the purposes of our study it is affirmed that they are correlated, since the risk of violence is intended to determine the tendency of a person to be dangerous in the future. Simultaneously, both risk factors and protective factors will be taken into account, that is, those that favor the commission of the criminal act and those that reduce the probability of recidivism of the criminal subject, respectively. It goes without saying that we are dealing with a construct that offers degrees of probability, offering an advantage and a disadvantage, namely:

Advantage: there are subjects who are only, and only, dangerous for a specific type of victim.

Disadvantage: the dichotomous answer (yes or no) increases the possibility of missing relevant information that affects the trend and the prediction of future criminal behavior.

In the field of terrorism, there is talk of radicalization, but not all radicalization leads to terrorism. However, we can establish a risk of violence, a prediction based on the conduct and behavior of a subject who is ‘suspected’ of future dangerousness as a ‘presumed religious terrorist’.

Without delving into whether we are dealing with a relative risk or an assumable risk, one of the risk assessment tools for radicalization will be analyzed below. Although, the reader is told that it is not the only one, among the list we find2 the Guide to Extremism Risk, Islamic Radicalization, Identification of Vulnerable People, Multiple Levels, among others. All of them implemented in different countries, none at the national level. Here, the use of risk assessment tools for radicalization is null, we only find a protocol for a preventive strategy of radicalization for terrorism towards those who are serving the custodial sentence in prisons.

The Violent Extremism Risk Assessment is briefly discussed below:

The Violent Extremism Risk Assessment (VERA) method, of Canadian origin (2009) is the first protocol designed to determine the risk assessment of terrorists; has been put into practice on convicted terrorists, after the application the deficiencies have been determined and the appropriate revisions have been made, thus, in 2010 it gave rise to VERA-2 and, in 2016, to VERA-2r, identifying itself, in the latter case, additional relevant and applicable motivational indicators for violent radicalization in men, women and youth.

The method is applied in different European countries, among which Spain is not found, it is also applied in North America, Australia and Southeast Asia in a variability of environments, that is, in radicalization, but it does not have to be religious terrorism, but in a context of extremism and violent radicalization, regardless of ideology.

In the context discussed here, this tool has been used for convicted religious terrorists and for foreign terrorist fighters and their families who have returned from fighting and being part of terrorist organizations.

The assessment tool assesses a subject’s risk of beliefs, attitudes, and ideology related to violent extremism, as well as context, social intent, history and ability, subject’s commitment, and motivation. In short, it allows the planning of risk scenarios and the tracing of risk routes and allows its application on activists of groups of organizations and solitary actors. Further refining the question, indicators are established under contrasted theoretical aspects:

Violent extremism and terrorist groups

Moral disengagement

Lonely actor

Mental disorders

It consists of 5 domains and 34 indicators, in addition to 3 additional domains with 11 indicators:

  1. Beliefs, attitudes and ideology. Of utmost importance in identifying the nature of extremism.
  2. History, action and capacity. Relevant in determining the subject’s ability to plan and carry out an extremist action. Also, because it identifies the capacity that the subject may have regarding access to materials, resources and their abilities.
  3. Commitment and motivation. The indicators indicate individual motivations and drivers of radical and extremist behavior. It allows to differentiate the motivated subject from the opportunistic one.
  4. Risk protection and mitigation. Identify the positive changes of the subject in the short and long term.
  5. Intent and social context. Identify psychosocial risk factors.

Additional indicators. Collected under the domains of criminal records, personal records and mental disorder.

Beliefs, attitudes and ideology

1. Commitment to an ideology that justifies violence
2. Perception of being victims of injustice
3. Dehumanization of selected targets and associated cause of injustice
4. Rejection of society and democratic values
5. Feeling of hatred, anger, frustration, persecution, in relation to alienation
6. Hostility towards national identity
7. Lack of empathy and understanding towards those outside the own group History, action and capacity

History, action and capacity

8. Exposure or early confrontation with a violent militant ideology
9. Network of family and friends involved in violent actions
10. Criminal record for violence
11. Tactical, (for) military and / or explosives training
12. Training in extremist ideology in your own country or abroad
13. Access to finances, funds, resources or organizational skills

Commitment and motivation

14. Legitimization of violence and murders for a higher cause (religious obligation, glorification)
15. Criminal opportunity
16. Commitment to the group, group ideological belonging (camaraderie)
17. Moral obligation, moral superiority
18. Motivated by excitement and adventure
19. Motivated by excitement and adventure
20. Status, role
21. Fight for meaning (of life)

Risk protection and mitigation

22. Reinterpretation
23. Rejection as a means to achieve objectives
24. Change of definitions
25. Participation in programs against extremism
26. Support for non-violence
27. Support for the non-violence of family members or important people

Intent and social context

28. Interested party
29. Identified objectives
30. Contact with extremists
31. Expressed intention to act under a reason
32. Expressed will or disposition to die for a cause or belief
33. Planning
34. Suggestible, susceptibility
Fuente: Elaboración propia a partir del Violent Extremism Risk Assessment5

1 Monahan, J. (2018). Predictions of violence. In T. Grisso & S. L.  Brodsky (Eds.), The roots of modern psychology and law: A narrative history (pp. 143). New  York, NY: Oxford University Press

2 Borum, R. (2015). Assessing Risk for Terrorism Involvement. Journal of Threat Assessment and Management. 2(2), 63-87; Flockton, J. (2011). International Developments in Extremist Violent Risk Assessment and Management: Professional Development study trip to Canada 13-27 June 2010. Australasian Journal of Correctional Staff Development. 1-6.

3 Sageman, M. (2008). Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press

4 La herramienta de valoración de riesgo original constaba de 5 dominios y 31 indicadores.

5 Pressman, D.E., Duits, N., Rinne, T., Flockton, J.S. (2016). VERA-2R: A structured professional judgment approach. Utrecht: Nederlands Instituut voor Forensische Psychiatrie-Psychologie; Pressman, D.E. & Flockton, J. (2012). Calibrating risk for violent political extremists and terrorists; the VERA 2 structured assessment. The British Journal of Forensic Practice. 14(4), 237-251.