Still catching up on old things I failed to post when they landed, this time a report on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) community engagement programme that I undertook with some RUSI colleagues (Charlie and Calum) as part of Canada’s Kanishka funding programme – thanks again to them for the support. The project was initially more focused on Lone Actor terrorism, using them as a vector through which to understand how community engagement and policing could be improved. The logic of this flows that given Lone Actors isolation and detachment from known terrorist networks, they do not necessarily set off the usual intelligence or police tripwires. Therefore it is important to try to develop and embed these tripwires within communities, hence the importance of community policing within this context. I have a larger project on Lone Actors in the more classic sense currently underway which should start producing material soon. In the meantime, any thoughts or comments welcome.
The terrorist attacks of October 2014 in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, demonstrated that the historically relatively benign security environment within Canada has given way to a much more uncertain present.
The nature of the terrorism threat to Canada has come to reflect broader terrorism trends experienced by other Western countries. While overall cases remain rare, the number of terrorist incidents involving lone actors in both Europe and North America appears to be increasing, attributed to a number of drivers and motivated by a diversity of violent ideologies.
Canada’s approach to counter-terrorism warrants closer attention in light of this changing threat picture and the evolving threat of lone actors – not least because the risk of lone-actor terrorism puts Canadian citizens on the front line of any future response.
Drawing on first-hand interviews with practitioners and policy-makers, as well as wider literature, this report looks specifically at the phenomenon of lone-actor terrorism in Canada alongside the community engagement programme of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It examines case studies in recent Canadian history to highlight the issues surrounding community engagement pre and post attack, and provides recommendations to improve the programme, offering insights to other countries facing similar threats.