Professor Matthew Williams

Professor Matthew Williams

Professor of Criminology

Email:
williamsm7@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44(0) 29 2087 4853
Location:
2.28, Glamorgan Building

I am Director of the Social Data Science Lab at the Data Innovation Research Institute and Professor of Criminology in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. My main areas of research activity are:

  • Computational Social Science
  • Cybercrime / Human Factors in Cybersecurity
  • Hate and Extremism Online

Computational Social Science

In 2014 I was appointed by the ESRC to their Social Media/Phase 3 Big Data Network Working Group.  I am Director of the Social Data Science Lab and founder of the Cardiff Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS).  Both represent the largest investment in social media research in the UK (funded by ESRC, EPSRC, JISC, DoH, HPC Wales, Welsh Government (WG), Metropolitan Police Service, Department for International Development and Airbus (£3.5M)).  This programme of work directly relates to my career-long interest in Digital Social Research (DSR) that dates back to my PhD on virtual communities and cybercrime (supervised by Prof. Paul Atkinson). I was Principal Investigator on the founding COSMOS grant 'Digital Social Research Tools, Tension Indicators and Safer Communities: A demonstration of COSMOS' (ESRC DSR Programme) and the follow on grant 'Social Media and Prediction: Crime Sensing, Data Integration and Statistical Modeling' (ESRC/National Centre for Research Methods Methodological Innovation Project). I also played a major role as a Co-Investigator on the following Big Social Data related grants: 'Understanding the Role of Social Media in the Aftermath of Youth Suicides' (Department of Health for England); 'Public Perceptions of the UK Food System: Public Understanding and Engagement, and the Impact of Crises and Scares' (ESRC & Food Standards Agency); 'Digital Wildfires: (Mis)information Flows, Propagation & Responsible Governance' (ESRC Global Uncertainties Ethics and Rights in Security); 'Detecting Tension and Cohesion in Local Communities with Social Media' (Airbus Group); High Performance Computing, Scalability and Big 'Social' Data (HPC Wales/Fujitsu); 'Hate Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows' (ESRC/Google Data Analytics);  'Supporting Empirical Social Science Research with a Virtual Research Environment' (JISC); and 'Requirements Analysis for Social Media Analysis Research Tool’ (ESRC/DSR).  I am currently working on six projects that continue our work in this area: 'Investigating the link between social media activity and reporting crime' (Metropolitan Police Service Centre for Scientific and Engineering Excellence); 'Impact Acceleration Award – Embedding Open Source Intelligence Analytics within the Metropolitan Police Service' (ESRC); 'Evaluating the Utility of Social Media Analytics for International Development' (DfID);' Estimating the Propagation of Anti-Semitic Content on Twitter' (Community Security Trust and the Lewis Trust Group); and 'The 2016 Welsh Election Study: A Study of the 2016 Election to the National Assembly for Wales' (ESRC).

Before COSMOS I was involved in the Cardiff Digital Ethnography and Hypermedia research programme (with Atkinson, Coffey & Dicks) as Co-Investogtaor on 'Ethnography for the Digital Age' (ESRC) and 'Methods and Issues in Qualitative Online Data Sharing and Archiving' (ESRC Qualitative Archiving & Data Sharing).  On the topic of DSR I have published in the major social science methodology journals (Qualitative Research, International Journal of Social Research Methodology (IJSRM), Sociological Research Online, Methodological Innovations and Building Research Capacity) and have edited a special issue of IJSRM on Computational Social Science: Theory, Method and Data.  I have also written the Digital Social Research chapters in the leading methodology textbooks in criminology including 'Doing Criminological Research' (Jupp: Sage); 'Doing Research on Crime and Justice' (King & Wincup: Oxford) and 'Online Social Research: Methods, Issues & Ethics' (Chen & Hall: Peter Lang).  In 2013 I was awarded a 12 month Cardiff University Research Leave Fellowship to further develop my work in this area and to establish international links with Rutgers University, Duke University and Twitter US.

Cybercrime and Human Factors in Cybersecurity

I have applied my significant amount of digital methodology work to the study of cybercrime, that formed the focus of my PhD thesis. In 2010 I was successful in capturing a ground-breaking research grant 'e-Crime Reduction Partnership Mapping Study' (with Levi) from Nominet Trust. The project was championed by the Rt. Hon. Alun Michael MP and the findings were launched at Westminster to MPs and industry. Our recommendations highlighted the need for a UK cybercrime reduction partnership and in 2013 HMG's Cybercrime Reduction Partnership was formed and I was invited to join as one of only two academics. The research was presented at a keynote address, and at conferences in Europe and Australia and published as two journal papers and one book chapter.  In 2013 I was a key player in the successful capture of the RCUK Global Uncertainties Consortia for Exploratory Research into Cyber Security grant 'Identifying and Modelling Victim, Business, Regulatory and Malware Behaviours in a Changing Cyberthreat Landscape' (£1.2M) that continues my work in this area.   I have published extensively in this area in high profile international journals including: British Journal of Criminology, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Policing & Society, Security Journal, Journal of Sexual Aggression, Information Management & Computer Security and International Review of Law, Computers & Technology.   Recently I edited the special issue of Policing and Society entitled: Policing Cybercrime: Networked and Social Media Technologies and the Challenges for Policing.  I have written chapters in several key criminology textbooks and edited collections on the topic, including 'Criminology' (Hayle et al.: Oxford); 'Handbook of Crime' (Brookman et al.: Willan); 'Handbook of Internet Crime' (Jewkes & Yar: Willan); and 'Crime & the Internet' (Wall: Routledge). My book, Virtually Criminal published by Routledge was short listed for the British Sociological Association's Philip Abrams Memorial Book Prize in 2007.  In 2013 I was invited by James Brokenshire, then Minister for Security, and David Willets, Minister for Universities and Science to join, as one of only two academics, HMG's Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership. In 2014 I was invited by Professor Sir Alan Wilson, Chair of the Home Office Science Advisory Committee, to join HMG's Costs of Cybercrime International Expert Advisory Group. I am currently conducting an analysis of fear of cybercrime for the Home Office.  I also currently act as an expert reviewer for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Board of Physical Sciences Cyber Security Programme.  I have been an academic reviewer on HMG's Office for Science Foresight project 'Future of Identity', an academic advisor to the ACPO/College of Policing project 'National Assessment on threats and opportunities posed by the use of Global Digital Communication Technologies', and an academic advisor to the DTI foresight programme and the eCrime Wales Project.

Hate and Extremism Online

I have a long-standing interest in hate crime and the migration of all forms of hate to the Internet.  In 2010 I captured a Big Lottery grant (3 years, £570k) for the 'All Wales Hate Crime Project', on which I was sole PI. This remains the largest and most comprehensive dedicated academic study of hate crime conducted within the UK, surveying over 1800 respondents, interviewing over 60 victims and reaching out to over 5000 community members via a dedicated project officer.  This project built upon my previous two studies into homophobic hate crimes in Wales (Stonewall Cymru Counted Out! Survey 2003 & Counted In! Survey 2007). The Big Lottery project achieved outstanding impact.  The findings were received by the Wales Minister for Communities at the project launch in the National Assembly for Wales and formed the key source of evidence for the Welsh Government's Framework for Action on Tackling Hate Crime. The key findings from the project were recently published in the British Journal of Criminology.  More recently I have studied the migration of hate crime and speech to the Internet.  As part of my PhD thesis I examined how forms of illocutionary speech in virtual communities could constitute hate crime.  I continued this research by capturing the ESRC/Google Data Analytics grant 'Hate Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows'. Major outputs from this project include 'Tweeting the Terror: Modelling the Social Media Reaction to the Woolwich Terrorist Attack' Social Network Analysis and Mining and ‘Cyberhate on Social Media in the Aftermath of Woolwich: A Case Study in Computational Criminology and Big Data’, British Journal of Criminology.  Both were picked up in the national and international including the BBC, Times of India, Zee News, India, and Sun News, Canada. Following on from this study, in partnership with Rand US and Europe, I successfully led a team at Cardiff in a bid to the National Institute for Justice, US Department of Justice 3-year project 'Understanding Online Hate Speech as a Motivator for Hate Crime'.

Interdisciplinarity is a key feature of my research and I have worked with members of staff in the schools of Computer Science, Psychology, Law, Business, Mathematics and Dentistry. I have been successful in gaining grants from the ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC, JISC, Big Lottery Fund, Welsh Government, Nominet Trust, Stonewall Cymru, TUC Wales, Safer Wales, Department of Health, Food Standards Agency, Google, US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, High Performance Computing Wales/Fujitsu and the Airbus Group. My research income to date is in excess of £5.5M.

I was recently appointed to serve as a member of the ESRC's Peer Review College.

Honours and awards

  • My book, Virtually Criminal published by Routledge was short listed for the British Sociological Association's Philip Abrams Memorial Book Prize in 2007

Professional memberships

  • Member of the British Society of Criminology
  • Member of the American Society of Criminology

External Engagement

Appointed to ESRC's Peer Review College and Social Media Working Group to shape strategy
ESRC sponsored delegate at the EU Trans-Atlantic Workshop on Big Data in DC, US
Editor of British Society of Criminology house journal and guest editor of 2 special issues
Invited to participate as an Expert Evaluator on the Horizon 2020 Digital Security Call
Appointed by Prof. Sir Alan Wilson to Home Office Costs of Cybercrime International Advisory Group
Appointed to organising committee for Web Science Trust (WST) Singapore Summer School and asked to present and represent COSMOS by Prof. Dame Wendy Hall
Reviewer for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Cyber Security Programme
Invited by James Brokenshire (Minister for Security) and David Willets (Minister for Universities) to join as one of only two academics HMG's Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership in 2013
Adviser to HMG's Office for Science 'Future of Identity' project
Adviser to ACPO's 'National Cybercrime Assessment'
Adviser to DTI's 'Foresight e-Crime Project'
Adviser to WG's 'eCrime Project'
Adviser to WG disability hate crime inquiry
Adviser to Equality and Human Rights Committee Disability Inquiry
Adviser to Equality and Human Rights Committee Homophobic Hate Crime Reporting Programme
Adviser to HMG's Parliamentary IT Committee

University committees

Chair of Postgraduate Teaching Board

Over the last decade I have formed an international reputation for my interdisciplinary research in the fields of Cybercrime, Cyberhate & Computational Social Science.

Summary of Key Achievements:

  • Grant capture totalling ~£5.5M over 34 projects, 14 of which are from RCUK amounting to ~£3M. I was/am currently PI on 13
  • Invited speaker at 50 US, Australian, Asian & European conferences and a delegate at 23 others
  • PI on the Online Hate Speech Project ($886K) funded by the National Institute for Justice, US Department of Justice
  • PI on the All Wales Hate Crime Project (£570K) that was used as key evidence in the Welsh Government’s Hate Crime Framework 2014 and continues to shape national policy
  • Solely represented the Social Data Science Lab in visits to Rutgers, Duke & Twitter US
  • Invited to speak at Cambridge Institute of Criminology Public Seminar Series in 2015
  • ESRC sponsored delegate at the EU Trans-Atlantic Workshop on Big Data in DC, US
  • Appointed to ESRC’s Peer Review College and Social Media Research Working Group
  • Appointed by Sir Alan Wilson to Home Office Cybercrime International Advisory Group
  • Invited by James Brokenshire, Minister for Security, and David Willets, Minister for Universities to join HMG’s Cybercrime Reduction Partnership in 2013
  • Editor of British Society of Criminology house journal and guest editor of 2 special issues

Contributions to the Field: I was co-edior of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the international peer-reviewed journal of the British Society of Criminology, and I currently work on several editorial boards and have edited special issues of Policing & Society and the Int. Journal of Social Research Methodology. I am a reviewer for many international journals including Criminology (US). I have reviewed grant applications for the ESRC, EPSRC and the Nuffield Foundation and in was invited to act as an expert reviewer for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. I was also invited to participate as an Expert Evaluator on the Horizon 2020 Digital Security Call and was recently made a member of the ESRC’s Peer Review College and their Social Media Working Group. I have launched findings in the National Assembly for Wales, and in Westminster to MPs, Google, Facebook & Twitter. I was invited by the Ministers for Security and Universities & Science to join HMG’s Cybercrime Reduction Partnership, was appointed by Professor Sir Alan Wilson, Chair of the Home Office Science Advisory Committee to HMG’s Costs of Cybercrime International Expert Advisory Group, and was adviser to HMG’s Office for Science ‘Future of Identity’ project, to ACPO’s ‘National Cybercrime Assessment’, to DTI’s ‘Foresight e-Crime Project’ and to WG’s ‘eCrime Project’. I provided evidence at a WG disability hate crime inquiry, at the EHRC Disability Inquiry, and at HMG’s Parliamentary IT Committee. I have provided interviews to the media (ITV & BBC), to the US public journal Scientific American and my work on big data has appeared in the ESRC magazines Britain in 2015 & 2016.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Offending and Victimisation (Yr 2)
  • Responses to Crime (Yr 2)
  • Crime Control, Regulation and Policing (Yr 3)
  • Diversity, Crime & Criminal Justice (Yr 3)

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Sentencing and Penal Theory (MSc)
  • Police and Policing (MSc)
  • Theories of Crime (MSc)
  • Penal Sanctions (MSc)
  • Patterns of Crime and their Explanation (MSc)
  • Criminological Research Methods (MSc)
  • Principles and Practice of Research Design (MSc)
  • Interviews and Interviewing (MSc)
  • Analysis of Qualitative Data (MSc)
  • Research Design (Prof Doctorate)
  • Forensic Psychiatry (MSc)

PhD Supervision

  • Supervision Louise Madden - Women's use of the Internet (Complete)
  • Penny Miles - Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Citizenship in Latin America (Complete)
  • Mike Thomas - Civil Partnership Unions in Canada, US and UK (Complete)
  • Matt Jones - Occupational Experiences of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Police Officers (Complete)
  • Will Chivers - Online Counter Surveillance (Complete)
  • Liam Rowley - Virtual Worlds and Art Education (Complete)
  • Ian Thomas - Men Who Have Sex with Men and Mobile Technologies (Year 4)
  • Heather Panter - Heteronormativity and Homophobia in US and UK Policing (Year 3)
  • Daniel Gray - Misogyny is Social Media (Year 2)
  • Lisa Calloway - Surveillance and Social Media (Year 2)
  • Luke Roach - Cyberhate on Social Media (Year 1)
  • Scott Kerpen - Social Construction of Sexual Orientation on Social Media (Year 1)

As Principal Investigator

  1. Understanding Online Hate Speech as a Motivator for Hate Crime, National Institute for Justice, US Department of Justice, $885,820
  2. Cardiff University Research Leave Fellowship in Big ’Social’ Data, Cardiff University, £13,000
  3. Social Media and Prediction: Crime Sensing, Data Integration & Statistical Modelling, ESRC under the NCRM Methodological Innovation Call, £194,138
  4. Digital Social Research, Tension Indicators and Safer Communities: Introducing COSMOS, ESRC's Digital Social Research Programme, £97,506
  5. All Wales Hate Crime Project, Big Lottery Fund, £569,194
  6. Cybercrime Reduction Partnership Mapping Study, Nominet Trust, £74,199
  7. All Wales Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Survey, Welsh Government, £17,984
  8. Cybercrime Rapid Evidence Assessment, Welsh Government, £4,500
  9. Analysis of the Stonewall Cymru Survey of the LGB Community in Wales, Stonewall Cymru, £5,568

As Co-Investigator

  1. Event Detection using Open Source Communications, Airbus Group, £936,000
  2. The 2016 Welsh Election Study: A Study of the 2016 Election to the National Assembly for Wales, ESRC, £257,148
  3. Criminal Event Detection with Social Media, Centre for Scientific and Engineering Excellence, Metropolitan Police Service, £50,000
  4. Impact Acceleration Grant, ESRC, £25,000
  5. Impact Acceleration Grant, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, £5,000
  6. Cyber-related economic crime and implications for policing approaches, City of London Corporation, £25,000
  7. Public perceptions of the UK food system, ESRC/FSA, £291,200
  8. Digital Wildfire: (Mis)information flows, propagation and responsible governance, ESRC Global Uncertainties, £248,413
  9. Detecting Tension and Cohesion in Local Communities with Social Media, Airbus Group, £51,040
  10. High Performance Computing, Scalability and Big 'Social' Data, HPC Wales / Fujitsu, £45,000
  11. Understanding the Role of Social Media in the Aftermath of Youth Suicides, Department of Health, £200k
  12. Identifying and Modelling Victim, Business, Regulatory and Malware Behaviours in a Changing Cyberthreat Landscape, EPSRC/ESRC under the Global Uncertainties CEReS call, £1.2M
  13. Hate Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows, ESRC/Google, £124,986
  14. Supporting Digital Social Research for the Social Sciences with a VRE, JISC, £55,519
  15. Requirements Analysis for Social Media Analysis Research Tools, ESRC, £5,000
  16. Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Welsh Government, £22,000
  17. Translating Tales of the Trickster, AHRC, £23,901
  18. Methodological Issues in Qualitative Data Sharing and Archiving, ESRC, £84,645
  19. Ethnography for the Digital Age, ESRC, £174,529