CREST Roundup: February 2019

CREST roundup February 2019

This is a roundup of what CREST has been up to in February 2019. You can stay up-to-date with all our work by signing up to the CREST Newsletter, and have CREST news and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

New resources


The Internal Brakes On Violent Escalation: A Descriptive Typology

Why do some ‘extremists’ or ‘extremist groups’ choose not to engage in violence, or only in particular forms of low-level violence? Joel BusherDonald Holbrook and Graham Macklin have developed a typology to better understand why there are often thresholds of violence that members of extremist groups rarely cross.

Part of the answer is likely to lie in external constraints, such as the counter-measures put in place by state and non-state actors to inhibit the activities of such groups.

Yet the fact that few groups carry out as much violence as they are capable of indicates that in most cases external constraints comprise only part of the answer.

Detailed empirical accounts indicate that pressures within these groups also inhibit the adoption or diffusion of greater violence. In other words, the limits on violence are to some extent self-imposed.

To date however there has been scant systematic analysis of these ‘internal brakes’ on violent escalation.

In response to this gap in understanding, Joel BusherDonald Holbrook and Graham Macklin set out to develop a typology to describe and categorise the internal brakes on violent escalation within extremist groups.

You can find the full report for here.
You can find the executive summary of the report here.

You can also download the three case studies (found in the full report) individually:

To find out more information about this project, and to see other outputs from the team, visit the project page or go to:


Performance And Coping Under Stress In Security Settings

A new CREST report, published today, summarises presentations from a workshop highlighting the latest cross-disciplinary academic research on performance and coping under extreme stress. Part of the answer is likely to lie in external constraints, such as the counter-measures put in place by state and non-state actors to inhibit the activities of such groups.

Defence, security and law-enforcement personnel may be required to operate in extreme environments, including in war zones and other dangerous settings. These environments are typically characterised by intense environmental (e.g., extreme temperature, low resource), psychological (e.g., high threat, monotony, boredom) and interpersonal stressors (e.g., social tension).

This report summarises the presentations discussed at a workshop, aimed at sharing the latest cross-disciplinary academic research and practical experiences of performance and coping under extreme stress and the discussion on the implications for security.

The workshop, sponsored by CREST, was organised by Professor Emma Barrett and Dr Nathan Smith at the University of Manchester. Over a day and a half, academic researchers and people with extensive experience in extreme environments shared their knowledge with a practitioner-focused audience.

Presentations focused on the nature and impact of extreme stress, and lessons learned from experience and research. The report is structured around the key themes that arose from those discussions.

You find the full report here:

CREST out and about…

BBC: How do you deradicalise someone?

Dr Sarah Marsden’s research was featured in this BBC News article on deradicalisation: Shamima Begum case: How do you deradicalise someone?

The research the BBC cites is from this CREST guide:

We’ve produced a number of guides on deradicalisation and also CVE – you can find them here:


CGTN: Digital detoxes

Brittany Davidson was on China Global Television Network (CGTN) America’s new channel 12th February, talking about technology, society, and screen time, with a hint of debunking around tech-addiction and digital detoxes. Watch her interview here:


Parliament: Disinformation and ‘fake news’

Martin Innes’ research was cited in DCMS’s final report on disinformation: Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Final Report published

The research cited in this report (see footnotes on pages 70 and 71) comes from this CREST Policy Brief:

You can also read Innes’ article on Russian Influence And Interference On Twitter Following The 2017 UK Terrorist Attacks which was first published in CREST Security Review(Issue 7, Transitions).


Parliament: Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health

David Ellis was mentioned in this parliament report: (points 15 and 21)

His contributions had some impact on the recommendations that focus on getting social media companies to share more data with researchers. You can read David’s original evidence online here and older paper here.


Trust in the extreme right digital mileu

On 6th February Ben Lee gave a well-received presentation at Manchester University on trust problems in the extreme right digital milieu. The seminar was part of a wider series at Manchester dealing with trust and cyber security and was based on work Ben has been doing on extreme right digital organisation.



Joel Busher and Paul Thomas have published a new article in collaboration with Tufyal Choudhury: ‘The enactment of the counter-terrorism “Prevent duty” in British schools and colleges: beyond reluctant accommodation or straightforward policy acceptance’. The article, published in Critical Studies on Terrorism, develops an explanation as to why, while some of the education professionals who took part in this research voiced concerns that resonate with well-known critiques of Prevent and the Prevent duty, there was scant evidence of expressed opposition to the duty, and even some evidence of positive acceptance.



An article from the CREST-funded research project on digital hoarding has just been accepted for publication in Computers in Human Behavior as follows: Neave, N., McKellar, K., Sillence, E., & Briggs, P. (2019). Digital hoarding behaviours: measurement and evaluation. In press Computers in Human Behavior. You can read more about the project here.


Opportunities and events

Behavioural Analysis 2019

21-23 May 2019, Mall of America, Minneapolis, USA

Following the success of Behavioural Analysis 2018, which brought together 150 participants from 30 countries, Behavioural Analysis are excited to announce the 2019 conference.

Behavioural Analysis 2019 will offer valuable, practical insight into behavioural analysis techniques used to identify individuals with negative intent at large-scale sports and entertainment venues, transportation hubs, governmental institutions, and tourist attractions.

To find out more visit

A 15% discount applies if you cite the CREST newsletter on registering.


Deakin leads new think tank on social cohesion and community resilience

Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute is now leading a new, independent think-tank consortium of eight Australian and international academic, community and industry partners called CERCIS – the Collaborative Centre of Excellence for Resilient Communities and Inclusive Societies.

CERCIS’s incoming Director is CREST associate Professor Michele Grossman, Research Chair in Diversity and Community Resilience at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, working in collaboration with a very able and inspiring set of colleagues in leadership and advisory roles drawn from various partner, community and other organisations.

Professor Grossman said the new think tank offered an unprecedented opportunity to bring together community, academic and government knowledge and expertise to find the best ways to keep Victorian communities strong, safe and well.

“We are very excited about how CERCIS brings together an outstanding independent consortium of community and academic partners combining both local and international research and programming excellence and innovation,” she said.

“Such partnerships across these realms are crucial, not only for creating new knowledge around social cohesion, community resilience and violent extremism, but also for translating research findings into user-friendly programs and resources that are meaningful for both communities and government policy.”

Professor Grossman said the group would engage directly with a series of youth-related issues and challenges, especially those arising for young people living in a digital age.


3 x Research Fellow posts

University of Manchester

CREST associate Emma Barrett is currently hiring for three Research Fellow posts at University of Manchester.

The Fellows will play a central role in developing and enabling world-leading research and innovation in Digital Trust and Security at University of Manchester, and all three are based in the Faculty of Humanities here.

The three posts each have a different focus, but all would be attractive to postdoc social and behavioural scientists looking for the next step in their career:

  • Research Fellow 1: Privacy, trust, and data protection
  • Research Fellow 2: Cyber-crime and cyber criminals
  • Research Fellow 3: Digital security in the workplace

Click here for more details:

Deadline: This vacancy will close for applications at midnight on 25/03/2019


PhD In The Social Signals Of Interpersonal Trust

Deadline: 28th March, 2019

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year EPSRC DTP PhD studentship in the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) at Lancaster University. Beginning October 2019, the student will be based in Psychology and supervised by Professor Paul Taylor, Drs Stacey Conchie and David Ellis.

The PhD will examine how trust among individuals and small groups can be measured from ubiquitous behavioural data streams, such as email, social media and phone usage. By applying established and new measures at a scale larger than studied previously, the PhD will seek to understand how our day-to-day acts shape our social relations over time and across groups. The kinds of questions the PhD might address include: Is it possible to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships? How is trust gained rapidly? What are the roles of particular psychological factors (e.g., identity, emotions) that affect trust? What is the impact of external events on trust and when does it break down?

You will join a growing group of academic, postdoc and PhDs engaged in projects examining the use of analytics to inform our understanding of, and ability to measure, the interpersonal dynamics among security threat actors. As part of this group, you will be expected to contribute to meetings, present findings at academic conferences, and publish findings in academic journals. You will also be a member of CREST and encouraged to engage with relevant stakeholders in the security and intelligence agencies, helping them understand the research and its relevance to their practice and policy.

See here for more information:


Have you downloaded the CREST app?

CREST Security Review has a new website and a mobile app to further broaden the way people can engage with its content.

The free app, available on both IOS and Android platforms provides a number of features:

  • Intuitive navigation – making it easy to browse issues and articles of interest.
  • Offline access –  read articles or whole issues by bookmarking them to read later.
  • Search and discover – navigate easily to the topics that interest you most as well as be alerted when new items are added.
  • Favourite articles – our synced bookmark feature allows you to conveniently store all your favourite CSR articles in one place, for you to access later via any of your devices.
  • Responsive design – you can read CSR on your mobile, iPad, Android tablet or desktop, meaning you no longer must download the pdf (although that option is still available).
  • New issue alerts – opt in for notifications and you’ll be the first to know when the latest issue arrives.

Alongside the mobile application, a new website at gives CSR its own home, making it easier to access, read and share articles. Favourites and bookmarks are synced with the application.

Download now:
Find the free mobile app on your app stores, or via this link at:
Access the new website direct at, and keep an eye out for our next issue, coming soon.

We want to know what you think! Do let us know what you think of our new app and website by emailing us at:

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Watch CREST researchers talk about their topic of study

Last year we uploaded several videos of our researchers, talking about their studies, to our YouTube channel. These videos are another way to the share our fantastic CREST-funded research on security threats.

A year on and we catch up with familiar faces on their latest findings and where their research is headed, as well as introduce some of our new commissioned research. You can watch all the videos here.

How can we predict personality from digital traces? Kristoffer Geyer, in the second year of his doctoral research at Lancaster University, is exploring this subject by looking at what we can tell from people’s smartphones. Watch him talk about his CREST funded research here.

Subscribe to the CREST channel!

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By subscribing new videos will automatically appear in your feed, and it’ll be easier to to find any CREST video without having to search manually for our channel.

We encourage you to share these videos, which you can also view on our website here.

All of our videos are available under Creative Commons licence, which means you are free to share but please attribute by linking back to our youtube channel and website.


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