Understanding how acts of violence are classified
Oct 26, 2021
RAND Europe was commissioned to conduct a study on how different acts of violence are classified by subject matter experts (SMEs). The study was based on the inputs of 25 SMEs from a range of backgrounds (government/policy, practitioners, and academia/research) and fields (e.g. counter-terrorism, legal, policing). The findings demonstrate ongoing difficulties in classifying acts of violence and inform recommendations for policymakers.
Understanding how acts of violence are classified by subject matter experts
|PDF file||0.8 MB||
Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.
Classifying acts of violence, particularly terrorism, is an ongoing challenge. There are risks to society as a whole if a specific act has been misclassified. For example, this can distort statistics and affect the understanding of, as well as the risks associated with, a phenomenon. In addition, misclassification can lead to the release of offenders who could still be of harm to others. In this context, RAND Europe was commissioned to undertake a study on how different acts of violence are classified by subject matter experts (SMEs).
The study was based on the inputs of 25 SMEs from a range of backgrounds (government/policy, practitioners, and academia/research) and fields (e.g. counter-terrorism, legal, policing, etc.). The SMEs first responded to a questionnaire to classify 12 case studies displaying acts of violence, then participated in a two-hour workshop, in which four of the case studies and their classification were discussed in more detail.
The findings demonstrate the ongoing difficulties in classifying acts of violence. Defining such acts is not done in isolation, but comprises many different facets of the crime, including the perpetrator's motivation, the significance of their online presence, any known or emerging mental health issues, and the classifier's own knowledge, experience, and possibly any resulting biases. The misclassification of complex crimes, especially those with probable or verified connections to terrorism, bring significant risks. Based on the findings, the study team offers several recommendations for policymakers.
This research was commissioned by the Homeland Security Group – Home Office and conducted by RAND Europe.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.