Tribune de Genève.
For several weeks Germany’s police have been using a method developed in Switzerland to identify possible terrorists.
Developed by Jérôme Endrass, deputy head of the psychiatric psychological service at the office of justice of the canton of Zurich, the system involves police answering a series of questions on an individual based on what they know. The results place individuals into three risk categories: moderate, above average, or high.
The system helps the police, who are inundated with information, to work in a more targeted manner.
Endrass used New York as a counter example. He said “New York police set the criteria as young, male, muslim with convictions for petty crime. A model like this, with little nuance, results in mass surveillance of the muslim population of New York.”
Endrass and his colleagues found that the most important terrorism risk factor is a person’s relationship with violence, not their links to extremism or religion. For this reason the system includes questions aimed at identifying an individual’s propensity for violence, such as past violent offenses, violence growing up, violence in war, sadistic tendencies and fascination with guns.
If one of these criteria are met then a slight affinity with religious extremism is enough to classify someone as extremely dangerous.
It is not yet known whether Swiss authorities plan to use the same system.
According to a recent report, 90 at-risk individuals have been identified in Switzerland. Germany’s federal police department has identified 570.