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Tracing public reaction to Lee Rigby murder

4 December 2013

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New research will examine the community impacts of the Lee Rigby murder using innovative social media analysis

The Universities’ Police Science Institute (UPSI) based at Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences has been awarded funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to use their innovative work on social media analytics to look at the community impacts of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

For the first time, the research will look at how public opinion developed and evolved in reaction to the crime as new information about it emerged. In partnership with the School of Computer Science and Informatics, the research will look at how members of the public used social media to share knowledge about the crime. This will involve analysis of publicly available data, which has been collected from the time of the incident and will continue to the conclusion of the criminal justice process.

Professor Martin Innes, Director of UPSI and Principal Investigator on the project said: "Social media played an important role in bringing information about the murder of Lee Rigby to the public's attention. With this project we will be using advanced analytic methods to track in fine-grained detail how public understandings of this crime and reactions to it, evolved and adapted as new details became available. This work will be a world first in terms of being able to trace the arc of public opinion and sentiment from crime scene to the court case."

British Army fusilier Lee Rigby was publicly murdered as he walked back to Woolwich Barracks in southeast London on May 22. Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22 who are accused of his murder, are currently on trial at the Old Bailey. The pair have pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to murder. The case continues.