Research Institute Focus: Crime and Security
The Crime and Security Research Institute was established in 2015. It combines the expertise of three world-leading research groups, the Universities’ Police Science Institute, Data and Knowledge Engineering, and the Violence Research Group, as well as a growing community of innovative, multi-disciplinary academic partners to develop new insights, evidence and knowledge about local, national and international crime and security problems.
Since its inception, the Research Institute has secured in excess of £1.5m external funding. It works with a range of external partners including the Home Office, Welsh Government, IBM, Metropolitan Police Service, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, and the College of Policing.
Open source communications and big data analytics
One of the early achievements of the Institute is the establishment of the Open Source Communications Analytics Research (OSCAR) Development Centre, led by Professor Martin Innes. This examines how big data and social media are transforming policing and investigative, intelligence and engagement work, from neighbourhood policing to national security. These issues are being investigated through a strategic relationship between the University, the police National Counter Terrorism Functions Command, and five police forces across the country.
Open source communications have created greater public demands for police accountabilities and transparency. Funded by the Home Office, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and the College of Policing, the Centre is helping to develop open source methodologies, technologies and insights that will shape the future of policing.
OSCAR is already delivering significant impacts. The national policing lead for open source intelligence in counter-terrorism has said of the programme: “One of the most important pieces of work was reviewing the ways of working with open source practitioners. This insight has allowed us to improve training programmes and change our thinking about how we hire staff… OSCAR has saved the tax payer significant money assisting us in these areas.”
Utilising OSCAR’s innovative data analytics software SENTINEL, researchers at the Research Institute are working to develop new evidence and insight into how the circulation of ‘soft facts’, in the form of fake news, rumours, and conspiracy theories, alter public perceptions and understandings.
A particular focus on this issue has been facilitated by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded project on the social and security implications of Brexit. The Soft Facts, Social Media, Security and Brexit project seeks to examine the causes and consequences of the rise and spread of soft facts based on three different types of events and across four different categories, which can have important ramifications for community tensions and social cohesion.
Reducing violent crime
Research carried out by the Research Institute’s co-director Professor Jonathan Shepherd and the Violence Research Group led to the development of the Cardiff Model. This is an entirely new way of preventing violence, in which data from hospitals is shared with the police and local authorities. Receptionists at emergency departments record information, including the location and weapon used, from people injured in violence, and this information is anonymised and combined with police data to inform violence prevention strategy and tactics.
This public health approach is credited with reducing violence through research and has led to new use of data and original collaborations between medicine and criminal justice. It is being replicated in several other countries including the US, Australia and the Netherlands.
The award-winning model has this year won a £740,000 ($1.4m Australian dollar) grant to work on cutting violent crime using data from accident and emergency departments in several Australian cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.
The Evaluating the Diversion of Alcohol-Related Attendances (EDARA) project led by the Violence Research Group’s Professor Simon Moore is evaluating the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, efficiency and acceptability of the Alcohol Intoxication Management Services (AIMS) in managing alcohol-related attendances at emergency departments.
AIMS are designed to receive, treat and monitor intoxicated patients who would normally attend emergency departments and to lessen the burden that alcohol-misuse places on unscheduled care. They offer the potential to mitigate some of the pressures on emergency departments as well as ambulance services and the police at times when there is a sustained increase in demand.
Read the full article
This is a shortened version of the full article that features in the summer 2017 issue of Challenge Cardiff, our research magazine.