Wales Online Feature on Lee Rigby Killer's Welsh Links Highlights UPSI Research

Criminologists and computer scientists at Cardiff University are investigating “what lessons can be learned from the murder of Lee Rigby for managing the community impacts of terrorist attacks of this kind in the future”.

They have tracked “social media traffic from the first tweet at the crime scene through to the conclusion of the court case”. There was “in excess of 800 tweets a minute about the Lee Rigby murder at its peak” and “the suspects were first named on Twitter - several hours before their identities were released by the broadcast media.”

Professor Martin Innes, Director of the Universities’ Police Science Institute who is leading the research, said: “A lot of attention focuses upon how social media can be monitored to spot individuals who pose a potential risk of terrorism. But as the Intelligence and Security Committee Report identifies, in practice this is much harder than might be assumed, and not all attacks can be detected, especially those involving ‘lone wolf’ assailants.

“Reflecting this, our research is focused upon what can be learnt for the future from the murder of Lee Rigby in terms of improving the management of community impacts when terrorist incidents do occur. Our work has shown that social media is increasingly important in influencing how the public understand such attacks and what happens in the aftermath.

“There are very important consequences for the police and authorities in terms of taking the heat out of a tense situation and reducing the opportunities for the kinds of ‘secondary crimes’ that we saw following Lee Rigby’s killing.”




'How schools have been pushed to the front in preventing extremism' Martin Innes in The Conversation

The chief inspector of schools’ intervention into the running of seven London schools shines a light onto several emerging developments in the Prevent strategy for countering violent extremism. Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, identified that in six independent Muslim faith schools in Tower Hamlets, pupils may be vulnerable to “extremist influences and radicalisation”. In a seventh school, the Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat secondary school, insufficient responses were made to social media after an student Islamic society Facebook group posted links to extremist viewpoints.

Following similar allegations made recently about schools in Birmingham, known as the “Trojan Horse” affair, it is becoming clear that the education sector is being forced on to the “frontline” for tackling extremism.

This is a trajectory of development that can be traced back to the review of the Prevent Strategy commissioned by the Coalition government in 2010. This review sought to “refresh” Prevent and to re-orientate it in several important ways. Especially significant was a move to lessen the emphasis on and investment in “grassroots” community-based interventions. Instead, all statutory agencies were to be required to perform more of the work in identifying individuals at risk of radicalisation and delivering interventions to mitigate these risks.




College of Policing Feature UPSI and School of Computer Sciences' Work on using Social Media to Monitor Large Scale Events

A study into social media during the NATO summit found overall commentary about the event was negative after an increase in police presence - until officers began posing for selfies.

Computer and social scientists from Cardiff University studied community reactions on Twitter during last September's NATO summit in Newport, Wales, which drew world leaders including US President Barack Obama.

They found there were wide variations in public perceptions of the event, with the key findings revealing the overall commentary on social media about the summit was negative in tone.

The study found an initial increase in police numbers, especially highly visible armed officers, generated a negative public reaction, but this was recovered by many of them posing for selfies with members of the public.

The study can act as an example of how police forces could use social media analytics to carry out a 'live' community impact assessment during large scale events.

Researchers were able to measure public reaction to events surrounding the summit, such as the announcement of local school closures and national media headlines which reported on a 'ring of steel' around the summit.

Part of the work also involved analysing the tone of tweets based on location.
NATO organised events in Cardiff Bay, which included a display of warships and a fly-past involving the RAF's Red Arrows, generated a far more positive public mood compared with the disruption experienced in the centre of Cardiff and Newport.




'Crime is Changing' Martin Innes Speaks to BBC Wales

The nature of crime in Wales is changing, says a Cardiff University academic who is an authority on policing and social control.

Prof Martin Innes said experts have been expecting to see a rise in crime following the recession and financial austerity.

His comments come as Wales-only crime survey figures by the Office for National Statistics show a recent rise in crime, against the wider trend for England and Wales.




New Report on the Impact of Austerity on the Neighbourhood Policing Workforce

Changing The Beat?

The Impact of Austerity on the Neighbourhood Policing Workforce

Researchers from the Universities’ Police Science Institute at Cardiff University have today released a report exploring trends in the PCSO workforce across England and Wales and the current and future implications for Neighbourhood Policing provisions.

The study reveals that while the majority Police forces across England and Wales have answered the financial challenges of government funding reductions by reducing PCSO numbers, there are a number of forces that have maintained or increased their PCSO workforce strength. The London and Welsh police forces have pursued markedly different approaches, with the biggest decreases in PCSO numbers being found in the two London forces and the biggest increases in Wales.

According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales, the police have enjoyed rising levels of confidence and visibility by the public since the introduction of PCSOs and a commitment to Neighbourhood Policing. The size of the PCSO workforce is potentially dependent on the continuation of the Neighbourhood Policing approach and vice versa.

Cardiff University researcher Jack Greig-Midlane said “The changes in the Welsh forces represent the most extreme examples of strengthening the neighbourhood policing model. Conversely, the London forces have weakened neighbourhood policing to a larger extent than any of the other English police forces.”

He goes on to caution “The spectrum of reforms highlights the differences in local decision-making and the effects of localised police governance in response to current financial pressures. Overall, neighbourhood policing in England and Wales has been weakened, but there are a number of forces who have minimised the impacts of financial pressures on this policing model. In this era of ‘austerity’, an increasing number of voices are warning of the erosion, or even the end, of neighbourhood policing. With this in mind, the extent and consequence of current changes to this programme of local policing needs to be carefully considered by police forces and policy-makers. "


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Do You Work With Victims of Crime in South Wales?

Do you work with victims of crime in South Wales? If so, we need your help.

To support the new commissioning process, we are undertaking work to understand levels of ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ in the provision of services to victims of crime in South Wales.

If your group or organisation work with victims of crime in any of these key areas: violence, theft, burglary, robbery, anti-social behaviour, young victims, honour-based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation or hate crime in South Wales, then researchers based at Cardiff University’s Police Science Institute (UPSI) would like you to complete a short survey about the services you provide.

Your responses will be used by us to help identify the extent of victim provision in the categories above and by the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner to inform decision making about how future victim services will be funded.  

Please click the below link to take part in our survey;

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Martin Innes quoted in Economist piece on Government's anti-terrorism regime

Speak loudly but carry no stick

The government’s surprisingly liberal anti-terrorism regime

The murder of James Foley, an American journalist kidnapped by jihadists in Syria, was always likely to fill newspapers. His killer’s British accent has started a storm (seeBagehot). Since the news broke, David Cameron, the prime minister, has argued for “a tough security response”. Theresa May, the home secretary, added that “we must do all that we can to stop radicalisation”, and hinted at new laws. Boris Johnson, London’s mayor and a would-be MP, called for a “swift and minor” change to the law, to the effect that anybody who travels to a war zone without informing the authorities can be presumed to have gone for terrorist purposes.

Such musings worried lawyers and civil-liberties campaigners, who are accustomed to governments reacting to enormities with draconian new laws. But if the recent past is any guide, they can rest easy. Through a peculiar combination of high principle and low muddle, and almost despite itself, the government has adopted a surprisingly liberal position in the balance between security and liberty.

A task force set up after the murder of Lee Rigby for instance, a soldier, by two fanatical Muslims last year has largely been a talking shop for senior politicians, says Martin Innes, an expert at Cardiff University. Mrs May’s plan to make it easier for the security services to snoop on internet use was blocked by the Liberal Democrats. They also snipped away at new powers to strip naturalised Britons of their citizenship.

Read Full Article ..



'We can’t legislate our way out of the Isis crisis' Martin Innes writes for the Guardian

To prevent the radicalisation of Britons, it is soft power that has been shown to work, not ostentatious ideas like banning orders

In considering changing the law to combat the threat of Isis affiliates in the UK, the home secretary is following a well-trodden political path. Confronted by urgent and complex social problems, politicians frequently reach for legislative change. After all, it is a response giving the impression to an anxious and angry electorate that action is being taken. Unfortunately, in this case it will not work. A few symbolic tweaks to the law will afford some marginal gains, but won’t do the “heavy lifting” in preventing small groups of young people from seeking to join a hyper-violent Islamist movement.

Instead, government focus needs to be upon enabling the messy, unpredictable and contingent “dirty work” of local counter-terrorism on the ground, and learning the lessons about what works and what doesn’t from recent experience. This reflects what we know from a growing body of research about the radicalisation process.

Inculcating violent extremist motivations involves interacting “push” and “pull” factors. Pushes propel individuals away from contacts with mainstream society and values. Pull factors attract people towards violent groups – often by providing a sense of belonging, identity and purpose. Interfering with these processes of attraction and propulsion requires sophisticated and subtle preventative interventions.

In 2011 my research team at Cardiff University was commissioned to assess the delivery of the Prevent strategy in four areas of the country. We identified three key aspects. A lot of effort at the time was going into building community cohesion. Counter-radicalisation activities were focused on inhibiting people from taking on extremist ideologies and narratives. The least developed aspects of Prevent related to deradicalisation – altering the behaviour and motivations of those already exposed to extremist ideas.




Home Office Policy Lab Workshop Sets Out Future of Police Digitisation


The Police Science and Technology Unit within the Home Office recently partnered with Policy Lab to bring experts in the fields of Policing, Design and Digital Technologies to find innovative ways of using digital technology to enhance Police services.

Martin Innes - Director of the UPSI. Prof. attended the event and set out work he had been doing tracking social media over the murder of Lee Rigby. The incident, and the level of social media activity around it, demonstrated that securing the scene of the crime was no longer possible in a world where people can instantly tweet photos. Interestingly the local provenance of the tweets being mostly from the Lewisham area meant that despite greater connectivity, people were still most concerned with the geographic area closest to them.

Other participants included Dr Andrea Siodmok, (Head of the Policy Lab) Chris Price (Head of the Police Science and Technology Unit in the Home Office) and Chief Constables Giles York from Surrey Police and Simon Parr from Cambridgeshire Police who are national policing leads for digital evidence and information management respectively and both passionate advocate about digital working.

The outcome was a range of prototypes for improving services to victims of crime, from an online skills academy where people could go to learn how to prevent crime to an online court where you could report crime, give evidence and hear the result, all from the comfort of your own living room.

A full report from the workshop is available to view online here:



As child abuse investigations take shape, old crimes are transforming British society



Prof. Martin Innes writes for The Conversation

The home secretary, Theresa May, has announced a major independent inquiry into claims that for decades, accusations and evidence of child abuse were dismissed, ignored and mishandled by many of Britain’s most important institutions.

She also announced a review of the way the Home Office handled sexual abuse allegations passed to it between 1979 and 1995 – including those submitted by MP Geoffrey Dickens to the then home secretary Leon Brittan.

The allegations of organised historic sexual abuse of children by MPs and peers are already sending huge shockwaves through the British establishment; they point to abuses and cover-ups in the care system and the civil service, among others, and have revived long-dormant inquiries into alleged child abuse by powerful figures at the Elm Guest House in Barnes in the early 1980s.




BBC Radio Wales: Eye on Wales - Violent Radicalisation feat. Martin Innes

The emergence of an online recruitment film, apparently for the Sunni militant group ISIS, featuring two men from Cardiff has prompted questions about radicalisation and extremism in the city. 

ISIS is a hard-line group that's been among those fighting government forces in Syria. In recent weeks it has pushed into large areas of northern Iraq, leaving sectarian slaughter in its wake.

It's estimated that between four and five hundred Britons have gone to Syria. As well as their families' fear for their safety, there's a broader concern that some of them may bring a commitment to extremist violence home with them if they return. 

In a special edition of Eye on Wales Felicity Evans brings together a panel of experts to ask how the radicalisation of young men from Cardiff and elsewhere happens and how it can be addressed.

Contributors include: Haras Rafiq of the counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation; Shahien Taj, founder and executive director of the Henna Foundation which works to strengthen families within the Muslim community; and Professor Martin Innes, director of Cardiff University's Police Science Institute, who has researched radicalisation in some cities in England.




International PhD Studentship in Criminology Opportunity

Applications are being sought for a prestigious, full-time PhD Studentship in Criminology, to be based in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, to begin in October 2014.

The Cardiff School of Social Sciences is pleased to announce the launch of a new International PhD Studentship for 2014 and welcomes applications from prospective candidates. The studentship will cover the full cost of overseas fees and a £7000 annual contribution to living expenses.

The studentship will be in partnership with the Universities' Police Science Institute and will build upon the Institute's world leading work in conducting research to inform policing policy and practice development. In light of these objectives, we are seeking to fund work in respect of a wide range of activities, including:

  • Community and Neighbourhood Policing;
  • Comparative studies of the police role in counter-terrorism;
  • New forms of crime prevention;
  • New technologies of crime control.

The Studentship will be awarded to successful applicants who fulfil the following criteria:

  1. The subject of the proposed PhD research must fall within the areas highlighted above.
  2. We are especially interested in funding work with an international comparative dimension.
  3. A first class undergraduate and/or postgraduate qualification in an area relevant to the focus of the studentship.

To Apply or for further information click here



Presentations from UPSI's Evidence Based Policing in Wales Conference Available to Download

On 19th May 2014 the Universities' Police Science Institute hosted a conference bringing together leading policy-makers, senior police officers and academics from across Wales to explore Evidence Based Policing in Wales. Speakers at the event included Chief Constable Peter Vaughan of South Wales Police and Police and Crime Commissioners Rt hon Alun Michael and Christopher Salmon. 

Presentations from the event are now available to download on the links below:

Prof. Colin Rogers | Learning from Practice

Dr. Helen Innes | Managing Anti-social behaviour in a Time of Austerity in Wales

Prof. Kevin Haines | Police Legitimacy: A Young People's Perspective

Kate Williams | Crime in Rural Communities

Nerys Thomas | Evidence Based Policing

Please sign up to our mailing list to be kept informed of future events here




Read preview of Martin Innes' new book: Signal Crimes. Social Reactions to Crime, Disorder and Social Control

"One of the most eagerly anticipated criminological publications" Prof. Tim Newburn, London School of Economics

"It is difficult to capture just how important this work is.. It is a vital text" Prof. Sir Anthony Bottoms, University of Cambridge

"Professor Innes has developed a seminal body of work." - Sir Denis O'Connor, formerly Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 2008-2012

"Nothing short of a new framework for understanding the social meaning of crime and criminal justice." Professor Jonathan Simon, University of California, Berkeley




Police Oracle Article on UPSI ASB Wales Report

The Universities Police Science Institute has discovered that many victims of anti-social behaviour are repeat callers.

A report into antisocial behaviour in Wales has shown that a high proportion of victims are vulnerable repeat callers. The Universities’ Police Science Institute analysed the largest ever sample survey of Anti-social Behaviour (ASB) victims...

Read More:



Signal Crimes: Social Reactions to Crime, Disorder and Control - New Book from Martin Innes, Oxford University Press



Martin Innes

224 pages | 234x156mm

978-0-19-968447-2 | Paperback | June 2014 (estimated)

How do individuals, communities, and institutions react to crime, disorder, and social control events? How do such incidents shape the contours of social order and the make-up of society? Why do some crimes and disorders matter more than others in influencing how we think, feel, and act about our security? These are the questions that lie at the heart of Signal Crimes: Social Reactions to Crime, Disorder, and Control.

"One of the most eagerly anticipated criminological publications" Prof. Tim Newburn, London School of Economics

"It is difficult to capture just how important this work is.. It is a vital text" Prof. Sir Anthony Bottoms, University of Cambridge

"Professor Innes has developed a seminal body of work." - Sir Denis O'Connor, formerly Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 2008-2012

"Nothing short of a new framework for understanding the social meaning of crime and criminal justice." Professor Jonathan Simon, University of California, Berkeley




Managing Anti-social behaviour in a time of Austerity in Wales, New Report Released

The Universities’ Police Science Institute have analysed the largest ever sample survey of Anti-social Behaviour victims in Wales for a new report ‘Managing Anti-Social Behaviour in a Time of Austerity in Wales’. The study follows on from a UK wide review of ASB conducted for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (link to report in notes to editor) and is based on a MORI survey of victims of ASB across the four forces in Wales during a one-month period in 2011. 

The report is being launched today (19-May-14) at UPSI's conference on Evidence Based Policing in Wales with guest speakers Rt Hon Alun Michael PCC, Chief Constable Peter Vaughan of South Wales Police and Christopher Salmon PCC. 

The report found that a high proportion of victims who contact the police are repeat callers and suffer some identifiable vulnerability.

A third of all victims in Wales experienced intimidation or repercussions as a direct result of reporting ASB to the police. Deprivation drives up the volume of ASB calls to the police and callers from highly deprived areas are more likely to be vulnerable victims.

The highest volume of calls to the police about ASB are from home owners but repeat and vulnerable victims are concentrated in Social housing in Wales.

Unless a co-ordinated approach is adopted to help protect and safeguard vulnerable victims, there is a real risk that they will not report ASB to the police in the future.

The Police have higher victim satisfaction than other agencies and should lead a multi-agency response partnering with social housing landlords and associations; sharing tools to define and assess ASB in a consistent way. 

The report is available to read in full above or click here to download



Evidence Based Policing in Wales Conference 19-May Agenda

Policing policy and practice development is being challenged by a combination of economic, political and social forces. UPSI are holding a conference to bring together leading policy-makers, senior police officers and academics from across Wales to explore how evidence-based ways of working are helping to tackle these challenges and what the opportunities for the future might be.


Confirmed speakers include:
Chief Constable Peter Vaughan, South Wales Police
Rt Hon Alun Michael, Police & Crime Commissioner South Wales
Christopher Salmon, Police & Crime Commissioner Dyfed-Powys Police

The conference will take place on 19th May 2014 from 10am to 4pm, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences

Click Here to Register *Please note places are limited and it is advisable to book early



Event: Data Driven Methods for understanding Below the Radar Activity in the ‘Social Economy’

In March 2014 Nesta awarded five research grants to organisations exploring Data Driven Methods for understanding Below the Radar Activity in the ‘Social Economy"  (read more about the research in this blog).

NESTA are hosting an event June 11th to learn more about why this is such an interesting new field of research, how this can further value to existing research, such as the NCVO Almanac, and most importantly hear from the five projects about their ideas and what they are proposing to do.

This event will be an opportunity to learn about exciting new data driven methods for undertaking research into civil society, and will help the five grantees test their ideas and ambitions for the research. The event is organised in partnership with NCVO.

Researchers from Cardiff University's UPSI and the School of Computer Science and Informatics were one of the five projects awarded the funding and will be examining how social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, blogs and newsfeeds leads to forms of 'spontaneous community mobilisation' after major crime events focusing on case study of social media data from the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich 2013.

Follow the event on twitter using #DataBTR or click here for more information and to register attendance 



NESTA Award Funding to UPSI to Research Data Driven Methods for Understanding Below the Radar Activity in the 'Social Economy'

UPSI has been awarded funding by NESTA to examine how social media leads to forms of 'spontaneous community mobilisation’ after major crime events focusing on case study of social media data from the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich last year. The project will use data collected from social media streams that relate to the Lee Rigby incident including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, blogs and newsfeeds since the event in 2013. Data will be analysed using a suite of innovative tools known as Sentinel which identifies, analyses and collects information on Who, What, When, Where and Why in social media sources to identify key events surround the murder of Lee Rigby and the subsequent community actions taken.

Click here for further information