Book Chapter

From Precaution to Prejudice: Mistakes in Counter Terrorism


This chapter disaggregates the mistakes, errors and miscalculations around counter-terrorism policy. We note the difficulties in assessing when ‘something goes wrong’ in counter-terrorism which centre around the issue of uncertainty. We reflect on how to calculate the impacts of counter-terrorism in objective and subjective terms, before considering specific aspects of counter-terrorism in examples from British counter-terrorism policing and measures. We distinguish three types of ‘mistakes’: ‘genuine’ errors, misapplication of policy and unintended consequences. We consider the effects of such mistakes, in the form of ‘suspect communities’ and the ways in which high-profile mistakes come to shape perceptions of counter-terrorism practices. Given the inherent uncertainty and the seeming decision to prioritise precautionary logics, ‘mistakes’ in counter-terrorism are inevitable.

Attached files


Lister, Michael
Legrand, Timothy

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-07-19

All rights reserved.

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of From precaution to prejudice: Mistakes in counter-terrorism
This RADAR resource is Part of Political mistakes and policy failures in international relations [ISBN: 9783319681726] / edited by Andreas Kruck, Kai Oppermann, Alexander Spencer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).


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