PRIME
UCLKing's College LondonUniversity of AarhusHebrew University JerusalemUniversity of LeidenUniversity of Warsaw

University College London (UCL)

Partner description and expertise

University College London (UCL) is London's leading multidisciplinary research university, with 8,000 staff and a campus established in the heart of the UK's capital. It is regularly judged one of the 10 best universities in the world according to international rankings.

The Department of Security and Crime Science (DSCS), which leads UCL's contribution to PRIME, is the first university department in the world devoted specifically to reducing crime and other risks to personal and national security. Distinctly situated in a Faculty of Engineering Sciences, DSCS brings together scientists, designers, practitioners and policy-makers to study the causes of crime and security threats and find practical methods of prevention and disruption. In the last UK Research Assessment Exercise (REF 2014), 86 per cent of the department's research activity was ranked as internationally excellent or world-leading, and 100% of its impact activity was rated as world-leading, a score attained by only 0.02% of all assessed departments (n=7550). DSCS carries out its mission to inform practice and policy through a unique mix of subject matter expertise on a range of crime and security threats, and scientific, technical and methodological proficiency in research design, evaluation design and evidence-based assessment. Members of the UCL DSCS Counter-Terrorism Research Group have been coordinators and key partners in research projects on radicalisation and terrorism commissioned and designed to inform local and national prevention strategies and are regularly solicited to brief or advise international, national and local security and law enforcement agencies on matters related to radicalisation prevention practice and policy (e.g. NATO, UK Cabinet Office, Public Safety Canada, UK National Crime Agency, UK Home Office, US Federal Bureau of Investigation, London Metropolitan Police, UK security services, UK National Offender Management Service, UK Ministry of Defence).


Role in the project

The UCL Department of Security and Crime Science is fulfilling management, coordination and scientific roles within PRIME. These roles are well aligned with the department's previous experience managing FP7 and other large-scale, interdisciplinary research projects; its unique position as an academic department straddling the human, social and engineering sciences in the security domain; and the expertise of its academic staff in the areas of radicalisation studies, counter-terrorism, event analysis, crime prevention, and crime science more generally.


Investigators

Dr Noémie Bouhana is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Security and Crime Science, where she directs the MSc in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism and leads the Counter-Terrorism Research Group. Her main research interests centre on the causes of radicalisation, with particular attention to the mechanisms of interaction between individual, social ecological, and systemic factors, and on the evaluation of counter-radicalisation initiatives. Most recently, she was selected to receive a $1M Minerva grant to lead an international research consortium on "The Social Ecology of Radicalisation." Previously, she completed a systematic review of research on Al Qa'eda-influenced radicalisation commissioned by the UK Home Office to inform the 2011 revision of the Prevent Strategy and completed a study on radicalisation in the UK High Security prison estate with support from the UK National Offender Management Service. She is involved in the FP7 VOX-Pol Network of Excellence for Research on Violent Online Political Extremism. Other work has been funded by the UK Ministry of Defence, the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), the UK Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC), and the US National Institute of Justice. Among other responsibilities, Dr. Bouhana sits on the board of Directors of the UK Women’s Security Society (WSS) and is a Senior Research Fellow of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Informatics and Technology Studies (BITS) program. She is regularly invited to brief UK and international law enforcement and security agencies on the topic of radicalisation and its prevention. Dr Bouhana holds a Maîtrise in Political Science from Université Jean Moulin Lyon III, France, and an MPhil and PhD in Criminology from the University of Cambridge, UK. Dr Bouhana is UCL Principal Investigator and PRIME's Project Coordinator.

Dr Hervé Borrion is Deputy Director of UCL's doctoral training centre in Security research. Most recently, he was the Coordinator of the EU FP7 RIBS project, and a collaborator on the EU FP7 BASYLIS project. Dr Borrion pursued his postgraduate education at the ENSAE, France (Masters) and at UCL, London (PhD) where he specialised in radar signal processing for target recognition. He developed a strong interest in risk analysis and the development of design requirements for security measures. His specialism is supported by (1) an expertise of Sensor-based technologies gained in various research centres including the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (Paris), Los Alamos National Laboratory and UCT-CSIR (South Africa), and (2) thorough knowledge of Situational Crime Prevention gained at the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science (UK). As PRIME co-investigator, Dr Borrion leads the tasks related to the development of the event scripting methodology.

Dr Paul Gill is Senior Lecturer in Security and Crime Science. Dr. Gill holds a Ph.D. in Political Science, an M.A. in International Relations, and a BSocSc (Int) from the School of Politics and International Relations in University College Dublin, Ireland. Prior to joining UCL, Dr. Gill was a post-doctoral research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Pennsylvania State University. He has previously been funded by the Office of Naval Research, the Department of Homeland Security, the Home Office, the UK Ministry of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the National Institute of Justice, and the European Union, amongst others. These projects focused upon various aspects of terrorist behaviour, including radicalisation processes, terrorist network structures, terrorist leaders and lone-actor terrorism. His doctoral research focused on the underlying individual and organizational motivations behind suicide bombing, and won the Jean Blondel Prize for the best Ph.D. thesis in Political Science in Europe for 2010. His current research focuses specifically on the radicalisation and attack behaviour of lone terrorist actors, and the development of counter-measures in consultation with key end-users and stakeholders. Dr. Gill has published in several leading criminology, psychology and political science journals, and is regularly solicited to brief and advise law enforcement and security agencies on the prevention and disruption of lone actor terrorism. As PRIME co-investigator, Dr Paul Gill oversees tasks related to the collection and analysis of empirical data on lone-actor extremist events.

Dr Amy Thornton is a Research Associate in the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London. As part of her ongoing research on the emergence of radicalising settings in different contexts, Dr Thornton has conducted interviews with former far-right and Islamist extremists, and de-radicalisation professionals in the UK, USA and Canada, allowing her to explore best practices in de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation programmes in these countries. She supervises students who focus on the content of narratives and counter-narratives related to Islamist-inspired terrorism groups. She contributes to the evaluation of crime reduction initiatives as part of the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction. As an RA on PRIME, she works alongside Dr Bouhana to assist with project management activities and scientific coordination. 

Dr Yuanxi Li is a Research Associate in the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London, with expertise in data mining and machine learning. She works closely with Dr Borrion to develop a Bayesian approach to the PRIME scripting methodology. 

Emily Corner is a Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London, undertaking a PhD examining mental disorders across the arc of terrorist involvement, which uses a multi-pronged methodology to investigate radicalisation, recruitment, action, and disengagement from terrorist acts. Emily has a background in psychology. She has worked within secure and step-down mental health hospital units for two years, specifically with female personality disorder patients undertaking a dialectical behaviour therapy programme. She has a solid background in quantitative research and has published book chapter, government reports, and a number of peer-reviewed articles. Working as a research assistant, she has undertaken projects with both academic and industry partners, including University of Massachusetts Lowell, VOX-Pol Network of Excellence European Union FP7 project partners, the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, North-West Counter Terrorism Unit, and the Metropolitan Police Service. She has also presented across academic and industry settings, including criminology conferences and industry workshops. As a research assistant on the PRIME Project, Emily works alongside Dr Bouhana and Dr Gill to help with data collection activities and data analysis.