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17th June 2019

A new project involving researchers from Solent and Portsmouth Universities is one of five projects, announced today (17 June) by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), to address some of the security threats facing the UK.

CREST, which was commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, is funded by the UK’s security and intelligence agencies to deliver a world-class, interdisciplinary portfolio of activity that maximises the value of behavioural and social science research to understanding, mitigating and countering threats to national security. The Centre is led by Lancaster University, with significant input from the universities of Bath and Portsmouth.

In addition to long-term research projects, CREST commissions six- and twelve-month projects to react to new and emerging requirements of its funders. CREST offered £1.12m to fund innovative proposals within this latest round of commissioning. After a rigorous and independent review process, the successful projects (subject to contract) were selected from more than 80 applications. CREST is giving details about five of the successful projects today, with details about other projects due to be released soon.

Speaking about the announcement the Director of CREST, Professor Paul Taylor, said: “We were delighted with the breadth and quality of the applications to our call. The successful projects address problems and issues that pose a serious threat to the security of the UK and we are looking forward to helping understand and counter those threats through this work.”

Dr Peter Lee from the University of Portsmouth, is Principal Investigator along with Co-Investigators Dr Mark Doyle from Solent University and Dr Vasileios Karagiannopoulos, also from the University of Portsmouth, on the project ‘Understanding moral injury and belief change in the experiences of police online child sex crime investigators’.

Dr Lee said: “This research seeks to better understand how police online child sex crime investigators are affected by their work. We want to learn more about how to best support those individuals and also how our findings can help people in other fields who regularly view traumatic images.”

The other successful applicants announced today are:

  • Dr John Blythe at CybSafe, Simulated phishing and employee cybersecurity behaviour (SPEC)
  • Professor Tom Buchanan at the University of Westminster, Why do people spread disinformation on social media?
  • Dr Oliver Buckley at the at University of East Anglia, Collecting and Leveraging Identity Cues with Keystroke Analysis (CLICKA)
  • Dr Joel Busher at Coventry University, 'Hot periods' of anti-minority activism and the threat of violent domestic extremism: Towards an assessment framework

More projects will be announced shortly. For more information about the successful applicants please visit the CREST website at:

Notes for editors:

CREST brings together more than 100 researchers to deliver a national hub for independent research, training and knowledge synthesis. CREST is funded for five years, from 2015, with £7.23 million from the UK security and intelligence agencies and a further £2.9m invested by the core institutions – the universities of Bath, Lancaster and Portsmouth.

The Centre was commissioned and is administered by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) with a focus on conducting independent research and knowledge synthesis. The Centre is led by Lancaster University (UK)

More information on the UK’s security and intelligence services are available on their websites: MI5 (, SIS (, CPNI ( and GCHQ (

For more information visit or follow @crest_research

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.