Held at the Paris premises of the National School of Magistracy on November 2nd and 3rd, 2023, the seminar of the National Penitentiary Intelligence Service, under the activities of the Intelligence College in Europe, gathered over 150 guests. This included 30 representatives from European penitentiary intelligence services, representatives from all services of the French intelligence community, central offices fighting against organized crime, and the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office (PNAT).

The approach to comparing the organizational models of penitentiary intelligence services in Europe led to the organization of the first seminar for European penitentiary intelligence services and was based on a comparative study of these models. The findings were further explored during various presentations, particularly regarding the institutional positioning of penitentiary intelligence services and their methods of information gathering and analysis.

This seminar provided an opportunity to address the current challenges in penitentiary intelligence regarding organization, doctrines, and practices. Six major themes were central to the discussions:

  1. Management of radicalized populations;
  2. The specifics of closed environments for implementing intelligence practices;
  3. Interservice cooperation between open and closed environments;
  4. Interactions between penitentiary intelligence and judicial authorities;
  5. European cooperation;
  6. The contributions of penitentiary intelligence services to understanding contemporary threats.

Exploring other models of penitentiary intelligence organization allowed the French National Penitentiary Intelligence Service (SNRP) to reflect on its own operations and share its expertise with European partners. The SNRP stands out as a unique model in Europe, both for its historical precedence and its resources and objectives. Following a series of events that compromised the security of its facilities in the early 2000s, such as the triple helicopter escape from the central prison of Moulins in July 2000, the mutiny at Clairvaux in February 2003, and the spectacular escape of the prisoner Ferrara after an armed commando attacked the Fresnes prison center in March 2003, the penitentiary administration was compelled to rethink its organization of security and intelligence. However, it was after the wave of attacks in 2015 that the creation of a genuine intelligence service within the Ministry of Justice and the Penitentiary Administration Directorate was initiated in 2017.

This institutional positioning highlights the uniqueness of a hybrid service that belongs both to the intelligence community and the penitentiary administration. The meeting of these two cultures, which mutually enrich each other, allows the SNRP to provide the penitentiary administration with new analytical capabilities regarding security phenomena occurring in detention. In turn, the integration of the SNRP into the intelligence community enhances public intelligence policy with new capabilities for collecting and analyzing national security issues contributed by the penitentiary administration. Thus, the SNRP contributes to the security of penitentiary establishments and, within the intelligence community, to anti-terrorism efforts, combating violent extremism, and policies against organized crime.

Two main models of penitentiary intelligence organization

At the end of the seminar and the study conducted, two institutional models of penitentiary intelligence organization were distinguished:

  1. The vast majority of European services only have penitentiary information collected by their associated penitentiary administration. In these cases, creating an Intelligence Service more so reflects the need for administrations to develop new analytical capabilities for security phenomena occurring in facilities, rather than the development of services with more secretive, even clandestine intelligence capabilities. In these institutional setups, it is the domestic intelligence services that conduct the most intrusive intelligence operations within the facilities;
  • The comparison also highlighted a second model in which penitentiary intelligence services possess all the typical capabilities of an intelligence service: human sources, technical sources, cyber, and partnerships. In this model, exemplified by the French and British cases, penitentiary intelligence contributes equally to the policies carried out by intelligence communities, particularly in terms of counter-terrorism and combating organized crime. In this setup, the penitentiary intelligence service is fully integrated into the national intelligence community. It became evident during the seminar that most services relying primarily on penitentiary information are leaning towards this second model.

Penitentiary intelligence will remain a subject of study and exchange in Europe. An update of the initially shared questionnaire will be sent to members of the Intelligence College in Europe to deepen the understanding of various national experiences. A public strategic analysis note will contribute to academic studies on intelligence and increase the visibility of penitentiary intelligence to a broader audience.


ICE and the Paris Defence and Strategy Forum

On the 13th-14th of March 2024, The Paris Defence and Strategy Forum (PDSF) was held in Ecole Militaire de Paris. This Forum, organised by the French Defence University (ACADEM), is the first event of significant scope in France focused on defence and security, with a strong European focus. It brings together French and international civilian and military subject matter experts in different formats. On the fifth anniversary of ICE, it was the occasion to publicize the new achievements of the Intelligence College in Europe, as done in the past during the “La Fabrique Defense” event.

ICE presence and actions

The Intelligence College in Europe (ICE) has participated in the event, in three main ways:

  • During the whole two days, thanks to a dedicated stand within the central agora. Well placed, it has been visited by a multitude of participants, among them, many experts and researchers, high-ranking military personnel from various parts of the world, including the Austrian Director of the EU Military Committee (EUMC), members of defence-related think tanks, security directors of public and private companies in the field of defence and security. Likewise, various French official cadres related to the issue of security were present, the most prominent being the French Minister of Defence himself.
  • On the 13 een of March, the Romanian Deputy Director of Intelligence, Mr Bizadea, has delivered, just after the former French minister in charge of the French Public Service (Mrs de Montchalin) one of the two keynote speeches kicking of the first roundtables on Human Resources entitled “War on talents”,
  • On the 14 een of March, the Director of PS.ICE has delivered the last keynote speech of the Forum on “European Intelligence & Security, Challenges and opportunities”, describing first the specific EU set-up and, then digging in on the various challenges and opportunities to be tackled in the next future. This keynote speech, followed by a Q&A phase, has allowed to detail the need of a common intel-based strategic culture and the ICE role.

The forum was an excellent outreach opportunity for ICE as the College is reaching maturity, extending its impact in the Academic domain and in Brussels, while intensifying its Public relations actions.

From left to right: - Mario Parente, AISI Director - Elisabetta Belloni, DIS General Director - Alfredo Mantovano, Delegated Authority for the Security of the Republic - Giovanni Caravelli, AISE Director
From left to right: Mario Parente, AISI Director, Elisabetta Belloni, DIS General Director, Alfredo Mantovano, Delegated Authority for the Security of the Republic, Giovanni Caravelli, AISE Director

Italian Award “A Thesis for National Security”. Conclusion of the fifth edition.

Promoted by the Italian Intelligence System, “A Thesis for National Security” is an initiative dedicated to university students, who graduated presenting dissertations on intelligence-related topics. The fifth edition (2021-2022) offered 10 prizes worth €2,500 each for the best master thesis, rated no less than 105/110, on the following topics: geopolitics and international relations; threats to national security; law, doctrine and history of intelligence; economic and financial security. The Award has seen a constant increase in the number of applications over the years. With the participation of graduates from 50 Italian universities, the last edition confirms the value of the relationship between intelligence and academia to promote a shared culture of security.

Thematic Seminar on “How to implement strategic issues in the intelligence work?”

On 31st of May and 1st of June 2023, the Belgian Security (VSSE) and CUTA, with the support of the Royal Military Academy and the Institute Egmont, organised a Thematic Seminar on “How to implement strategic issues in the intelligence work?” which attracted a very large affluence, gathering 80 participants from 23 countries and international organisations. Due to the high interest in the subject, the informal atmosphere, and its diversified setup, bringing together intelligence practitioners, academics, think tankers, and decision-makers (recipients of strategic intelligence or people involved in the prioritisation), the Thematic Seminar was both intensive and intense. During this seminar, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and address issues related to their daily work, as well as problematics most important to them, making it particularly interactive. This first ever ICE seminar in Brussels shows also all the interest of such events, giving the opportunity to make selected EU outreach actions and to flag the high degree of cooperation within our European intelligence and security community.

Thematic Seminar - Russian Threat – the 10-year perspective

The Czech Security information service (BIS) hosted a thematic seminar in Prague on the topic of Russian threat – the 10-year perspective. The seminar took place on May 23 – May 25, 2023. The two-day seminar was divided into four blocks: first one focused on Russia as a security threat for Central Europe and Western countries in general in 10 years, the second on the future of Russian relations with the rest of the world, namely China and African countries. The third dealt with the issue of energy and its use as a Russian weapon (again with the 10-year perspective). The last block consisted of several short presentations of Czech security services and other state institutions on the main seminar topic.

International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) & IAFIE European Chapter

The Director of the Permanent Secretariat of the Intelligence College in Europe (College) participated in the Annual Conference of the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) held in Copenhagen from 11 to 13 September 2023, in joint AIFIE and AIFIE European Chapter format. This Conference, which was held on the premises of the Danish Defence College, was jointly organised by the Danish and Norwegian authorities (via their Defence Universities) after intensive preparation.

Update for the ICE's YouTube Channel

As part of our Let's Meet! Intelligence Together project, we added new episodes to our YouTube channel. We are honored to host mr. Arturo Relanzón Sánchez-Gabriel, Secretary General of the Spanish Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) and Professor Doctor Hendrik Hansen from the Federal University of Applied Administrative Sciences (Berlin) giving their views on the main threats challenging European security and how the Intelligence College in Europe can contribute to strengthen the security and cooperation culture.

Security in the Black Sea Region. Shared Challenges, sustainable future. Focus on Europe and its neighbourhood

The Security in the Black Sea Region. Shared Challenges, sustainable future. Focus on Europe and its neighbourhood event took place in Bucharest, Romania, during May 22-26, 2023. The course was organised in residential format by the “Mihai Viteazul” National Intelligence Academy, under the aegis of the European Security and Defence College and with the support of the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. The event comprised a large number of international lecturers and speakers, academics, EU and NATO representatives, representatives of security and intelligence state institutions, civil society organisations etc. whose contributions received overall very good feedback from the participants.

Launch of the ICE YouTube Channel

As part of the College’s Outreach activities, we are pleased to announce the launch of the ICE YouTube Channel which will allow us to upload various videos.

“Psychology in the Service of Intelligence” Seminar

Under the framework of the Intelligence College in Europe the Portuguese Republic Intelligence System (SIRP), organised on 29th November 2022, the “Psychology in the Service of Intelligence” Seminar, which was attended by 41 representatives of ICE members states and partners, as well as European academics.