A new project involving researchers from Portsmouth and Solent Universities is one of five projects, announced today (17 June) by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), to address some of the security threats facing the UK.

CREST, which was commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, is funded by the UK’s security and intelligence agencies to deliver a world-class, interdisciplinary portfolio of activity that maximises the value of behavioural and social science research to understanding, mitigating and countering threats to national security. The Centre is led by Lancaster University, with significant input from the universities of Bath and Portsmouth.

In addition to long-term research projects, CREST commissions six- and twelve-month projects to react to new and emerging requirements of its funders. CREST offered £1.12m to fund innovative proposals within this latest round of commissioning. After a rigorous and independent review process, the successful projects (subject to contract) were selected from more than 80 applications. CREST is giving details about five of the successful projects today, with details about other projects due to be released soon.

Dr Peter Lee, from the University of Portsmouth, is Principal Investigator along with Co-Investigators Dr Vasileios Karagiannopoulos, also from the University of Portsmouth, and Dr Mark Doyle from Solent University, on the project ‘Understanding moral injury and belief change in the experiences of police online child sex crime investigators’.

Dr Lee said: “This research seeks to better understand how police online child sex crime investigators are affected by their work. We want to learn more about how to best support those individuals and also how our findings can help people in other fields who regularly view traumatic images.”

Speaking about the announcement the Director of CREST, Professor Paul Taylor, said: “We were delighted with the breadth and quality of the applications to our call. The successful projects address problems and issues that pose a serious threat to the security of the UK and we are looking forward to helping understand and counter those threats through this work.”

The other successful applicants announced today are:

  • Dr John Blythe at CybSafe, Simulated phishing and employee cybersecurity behaviour (SPEC)
  • Professor Tom Buchanan at the University of Westminster, Why do people spread disinformation on social media?
  • Dr Oliver Buckley at the at University of East Anglia, Collecting and Leveraging Identity Cues with Keystroke Analysis (CLICKA)
  • Dr Joel Busher at Coventry University, ‘Hot periods’ of anti-minority activism and the threat of violent domestic extremism: Towards an assessment framework

More projects will be announced shortly. For more information about the successful applicants please visit the CREST website.