News Release

New research to protect public from violent extremists

Business Announcement

Staffordshire University

Researching the intentions of violent extremists

image: Staffordshire University criminology Professor James Treadwell and Visiting Professor Ian Acheson from the Counter Extremist Project (CEP) view more 

Credit: Staffordshire University

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) and Staffordshire University are joining forces on a ground-breaking research project which aims to shed new light on the intentions of violent extremists.

The 'Disguised compliance in terrorist offending' project will provide frontline staff across UK security agencies with the best tools and approaches to assess the true intentions of people motivated to acts of violence by ideologies.

The research finding will be valuable to those who interrogate suspects and gather intelligence. The project, led on behalf of CEP by international extremism expert and Staffordshire University Visiting Professor Ian Acheson, will also seek to assess the risk of convicted terrorists who are reintegrated into the community after serving prison sentences.

CEP's Executive Director, David Ibsen, said: "I'm excited that we have been able to partner on this project. The Counter Extremism Project has been at the forefront of international research to protect citizens against terrorism but this project is the first of its kind in the UK.

"The attacks in the UK last December and emerging news from Vienna just last week demonstrate the urgent need for the security agencies to have the best techniques to assess the credibility of extremists. They are faced with sophisticated offenders and have to make risk-based decisions every day which have massive implications for public safety."

Criminology Professor James Treadwell who is leading on the research for Staffordshire University added: "Recent horrific cases have demonstrated the importance of focusing on new ways to tackle crime and increase security that draws on our vast experience in criminology, crime science, criminalistics and law and policing."

The 12-month project will consist of two phases. Phase 1 involves gathering evidence on the existing literature, skills and techniques used to counter deception. Phase 2 will consolidate this work and emerging trends/challenges and translate this into a field guide for use by practitioners.

Professor Claire Gwinnett, Director of the Centre for Crime Justice and Security at Staffordshire University, added: "We hope that our research, combined with the expertise of the Counter Extremism Project, can make a practical difference to protection and safety of communities here in Staffordshire and around the world."


Notes to editors:

1. The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies. Led by a renowned group of former world leaders and diplomats, it combats extremism by pressuring financial and material support networks; countering the narrative of extremists and their online recruitment; and advocating for smart laws, policies, and regulations. Leading the project on behalf of CEP is Ian Acheson FRSA, senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project and visiting professor at Staffordshire University's School of Law, Policing and Forensics. He is a former prison Governor and senior Home Office Official who has worked at Chief Executive level in the field of criminal justice, human rights and combatting violent extremism for the last 25 years.

2. The Centre for Crime, Justice and Security at Staffordshire University aims for the promotion, development and implementation of justice in various forms. The Centre leads on ground-breaking research, innovations and enterprise initiatives that are committed to human rights, global security and justice for all. James Treadwell is Professor of Criminology at Staffordshire University and has also worked at the University of Birmingham, and University of Leicester. Previously he worked for the crime reduction charity NACRO, and as a Probation Officer in the West Midlands. He has undertaken ethnographic and qualitative research for crime and criminal justice related projects, including studies of the English Defence League, and the August 2011 English Riots.

3. Over the last 10 years there have been 17 terrorist or extremist related attacks in the UK. This has resulted in the deaths of 43 people and injuries to approximately 180. During this time the security services have thwarted dozens of potential attacks. A dominant feature of recent attacks is assaults against civilians by lone terrorists using vehicles or knives. As at 30 June 2020, there were 243 persons in custody for terrorism-related offences in Great Britain, an increase of 24 compared with 30 June 2019. Of those in custody, the vast majority (76%) were categorised as holding Islamist extremist views. A further 19% were categorised as holding far right-wing views.

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