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Countering the

terrorist threat:

Social and
How academia and industry
can play their part

Foreword 02 Understanding the economic

This booklet is for everyone in Section 1: Social and behavioural
and social impacts of terrorism and
counter-terrorism interventions 18
academia, industry and other science in CONTEST
CONTEST: International terrorism
04 Section 3: How to get involved
I’m in academia or industry

research organisations whose and the UK

CONTEST: Science and technology
with a bright idea. Who should
I contact? 20
work on social and behavioural CONTEST: Social and behavioural
science 06
How does the Government
gain scientific advice on
science could help counter the Ethical considerations 06 counter-terrorism?
How is the Government

terrorist threat to the UK. Section 2: Key challenges 07

communicating with academia?
How is Government communicating

Pursue with industry? 28

Improving decision-making with Where can I look internationally
International terrorism is a intelligence data
Understanding capability,
08 for information and funding?
What should I do next?
complex social phenomenon. vulnerability and attack
indicators in terrorist organisations. 09
Glossary 32
Application of social and Prevent
Refining our understanding
End notes 33

behavioural science can of radicalisation

Developing effective Prevent

improve our knowledge and interventions


understanding of terrorism Identifying suspicious behaviour

Improving protective security
and its consequences. Social Prepare
Understanding crowd behaviour
and behavioural science can during terrorism incidents and
emergencies 14
directly inform strategy, policy Improving the operational
effectiveness of emergency
and operations and help ensure response teams
Cross-cutting challenges

that the Government’s response Reducing false positives in

our counter-terrorist work 16
is robust and effective. Communicating with the public,
stakeholders and communities 17


Admiral the Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC

Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State – Home Office

The intention of these documents

is to engage academia and industry
to reduce the risk to the UK and its
interests overseas from international
terrorism, so that people can go about
their lives freely and with confidence.
That is the stated aim of CONTEST, our
counter-terrorism strategy, which we
revised and published in March 2009.
The first of these booklets set out
how some of the security challenges
we face can be addressed through
the use of technology and the physical
sciences. This booklet considers the
role of social and behavioural science.
It also identifies sources of funding
This document, which has been and explains who to contact for more
produced by the Office for Security and information and advice. I hope you
Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office, find it useful.
is the second in a series linked to the
Science and Technology Strategy for
Countering International Terrorism,
published in August 2009. Each of
these booklets provides more detail
about the security challenges we face Admiral the Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC
and explains the role that the sciences Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
can play in tackling them. Home Office

2 3
Section 1 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 1
behavioural science
CONTEST How academia and industry
can play their part

Section 1
Social and behavioural
science in CONTEST
CONTEST: International terrorism CONTEST is based on a set of principles, CONTEST is based on four workstreams, CONTEST: Science and technology
and the UK reflecting our core values, the lessons each with a clear objective:
In August 2009, the Government
we and others have drawn from our
The 2009 National Security Strategy 1 ––Pursue: to stop terrorist attacks. published the UK Science and
experiences of terrorism to date, and
identified international terrorism as the ––Prevent: to stop people becoming Technology Strategy for Countering
the broader security principles set out in
most significant immediate security terrorists or supporting violent International Terrorism3. The strategy
the 2009 National Security Strategy.
threat to the UK. While terrorism is not extremism. outlines how science and technology
new, the current threat is different from ––We regard the protection of human ––Protect: to strengthen our protection (including social and behavioural
those we have faced before in its scope, rights as central to our counter- against terrorist attack. science) can better enable us to
capability and ambition. Contemporary terrorism work in this country and ––Prepare: where an attack cannot be pursue terrorists, prevent radicalisation,
international terrorist organisations overseas. stopped, to mitigate its impact. protect essential services and
have an international cause, plan and ––Our response to terrorism is and will be Work on Pursue and Prevent reduces infrastructure and prepare for a terrorist
conduct attacks in and from a range of based upon the rule of law. the threat from terrorism while work attack. It also sets out our objectives
countries and aim to inflict significant ––We will always aim to prosecute those on Protect and Prepare reduces the for the next three years:
civilian casualties. Many seek to responsible for terrorist attacks in this UK’s vulnerability to attack. Together,
––To use horizon scanning to understand
recruit people in this country. Some country. they reduce the overall risk from
future scientific and technical threats
organisations aspire to use Chemical, ––We will tackle the causes as well as international terrorism. The revised
and opportunities and inform our
Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) symptoms of terrorism. strategy also emphasises a number of
decision making on counter-terrorism.
materials as weapons*. ––We will work towards reducing support priorities common to all the four main
––To ensure the development and
for terrorism and preventing people workstreams: one of these is science
The nature of the threat and the delivery of effective counter-terrorism
becoming terrorists: without popular and technology.
Government’s response is set out in solutions by identifying and sharing
support terrorism is unsustainable.
the revised UK’s Strategy for Countering priority science and technology
––We will be responsive to the threat
International Terrorism (CONTEST), requirements.
that can be created by rapidly evolving
published in 2009 2 (a brief review of ––To enhance international collaboration
the first year of the revised CONTEST on counter-terrorism related science
––We recognise that partnerships in this
strategy will be published shortly). and technology.
country and overseas are essential
The aim of CONTEST is: to our success and that these
“to reduce the risk to the United partnerships depend on openness and
Kingdom and its interests overseas trust.
from international terrorism, so that ––The threat we face crosses our borders
people can go about their lives freely and is international in scope. We will
and with confidence.” depend upon our allies as they will
depend on us.

*A CBRN strategy will be released shortly and published at
4 5
Section 1 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 2
behavioural science
CONTEST How academia and industry
Key challenges
can play their part

Section 2
Key challenges

The strategy commits the Government deal with numerical measurements This section outlines The section is structured around each
to producing a series of brochures for whilst qualitative approaches deal challenges for UK counter- of four main workstreams of our counter-
academia, industry and other research with how people understand their terrorist strategy:
organisations about science and experiences. Providing the methods terrorist work that may be
addressed by social and ––Our Pursue work depends not just on
technology in counter-terrorism. The used are robust, both qualitative
understanding terrorist intent and
brochures outline our research and and quantitative approaches are behavioural science. planning, but also on effective analysis
development requirements. equally valid.
and decision making during complex
The first of these brochures was Social and behavioural science is In each part we have identified and fast moving counter-terrorist
published alongside the strategy and essential to understanding why a core challenge, some of investigations;
identified counter-terrorism challenges individuals and groups behave as they ––For Prevent to make a difference
that could be addressed by technical do, knowledge of which is essential its associated social and we need to understand why people
science 4. This brochure explains the for countering terrorism. There are behavioural features, and the become radicalised, how and where
challenges that may be addressed challenges related to social and social and behavioural work we can intervene most effectively in
through the application of social and behavioural science in all parts of the radicalisation process and how
that could help us in the future.
behavioural science. CONTEST and Section 2 of this brochure we can then assess our progress and
describes these in detail. identify best practice: in this context,
CONTEST: Social and behavioural radicalisation is the process by which
science Ethical considerations people come to support violent
extremism and, in some cases, to
Social and behavioural science includes Work carried out by social and
participate in terrorist groups7.
many separate disciplines including behavioural scientists on behalf of
––Our Protect work will benefit from
sociology, psychology, criminology, Government is carried out in accordance
accurate detection of suspicious
anthropology, economics, political with strong ethical principles, such as
behaviour, whether from an individual
science and communication studies. those laid out in the Government Office
in a crowd or an employee inside
The common themes of social and for Science’s Universal Ethical Code
a key organisation. Our protective
behavioural science are, respectively, for Scientists6 and the Government
security measures depend not only
“the study of society and the manner Social Research Service’s guidance.
on new technology but also on a
in which people behave and impact Researchers follow the guidelines and
better understanding of associated
the world around us” 5; and the study ethical codes of their professional
human factors.
of the actions and reactions of people organisations and where appropriate,
––For our Prepare work we want to
through observational and experimental studies have full independent
understand more about crowd
methods. ethical review.
behaviour during an emergency
Applying scientific method to such incident and about how the response
complex subjects requires a range of the emergency services can then
of approaches including surveys, be made more effective.
questionnaires, interviews, ethnographic
studies, focus groups and observations.
These approaches generate both
qualitative and quantitative data which
can be used to draw conclusions about
society and the individuals within it. In
this context, quantitative approaches

6 7
Section 2 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 2
behavioural science
Key challenges How academia and industry
Key challenges
can play their part

Key challenges:

The Pursue workstream aims to reduce Common features of the challenge: Understanding capability, How can industry and academia help?
the terrorist threat to the UK through ––Information about terrorist activities vulnerability and attack indicators Industry and academia may be able to
the detection and investigation of comes from numerous sources, in terrorist organisations. apply existing or new research to:
terrorist networks and the disruption including digital (e.g. information in
––Understand how terrorist groups
of their activities. Terrorists operate in official databases, phone records, The Challenge:
develop the technical and psychological
secret and intelligence is vital to detect online activity), human (e.g. from We also need to constantly improve
capability to conduct an attack and
and disrupt their activities. In the past members of the public, informants and our understanding about how terrorist
how this might be influenced by
five years there has been a rapid and the security agencies) and forensic. organisations work – how capability
government actions.
significant increase in intelligence ––Investigations are often carried out develops, what capability creates
––Identify factors which influence a
resources at home and overseas, across multi-agency and sometimes most risk, what influences the choice
terrorist group’s choice of method and
for the intelligence agencies and the multi-national teams. of target, how behaviours may reveal
target of attack (e.g. individual, social,
police. These resources have been ––Decision-makers must take account intent, and what determines motivation.
ideological, security and broader
organised into new structures which of public safety, political, legal, ethical
Common features of the challenge: political factors).
ensure unprecedented interagency and practical concerns.
––Terrorist groups operate in secret ––Identify how terrorist behaviours
collaboration, recognised internationally
How can industry and academia help? and their activities are often hard change as they move into attack phase
as a model for successful joint working.
Industry and academia may be able to distinguish from those of the law and how those behaviours might be
to apply existing or new research abiding public. identified and distinguished from the
Improving decision-making with
to develop: ––Terrorist attacks are usually planned activities of innocent members of the
intelligence data
and conducted by groups rather than public.
––Effective methods of eliciting and
individuals. ––Understand how and why terrorists or
The Challenge: assessing information.
––Terrorist activities are influenced both terrorist groups develop and lose the
Intelligence and law enforcement ––Improved methods for recording,
by factors external to the group and by motivation to conduct an attack, what
agencies identify and disrupt terrorist searching and displaying digital
internal group dynamics. the indicators of these changes might
activities. But the investigation information.
––A terrorist group must develop and be and the associated implications for
of individuals engaged in a covert ––Techniques that facilitate and enhance
maintain motivation and capability, government policy.
conspiracy to commit a crime is effective decision-making in multi-
inherently challenging. Information is agency teams. whilst remaining hidden from law
ambiguous, complicated, constantly ––Effective training to enhance enforcement, the attention of
evolving and not always accurate. investigational skills. communities and, sometimes,
Decisions must often be made in from friends and family.
fast-moving and complex situations.

8 9
Section 2 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 2
behavioural science
Key challenges How academia and industry
Key challenges
can play their part

Key challenges:

Preventing individuals from supporting Common features of the challenge: ––Develop an understanding of the Common features of the challenge:
or engaging in terrorism is one of the key ––Radicalisation is occurring for a range comparative influence of international ––Measuring attitudinal or behavioural
objectives of CONTEST. of reasons and domestic factors on the change can be difficult.
––Ideology (both extremist and violent radicalisation process. ––Evaluating outcomes is more
The most significant international
extremist) and ideologues play a ––Investigate the role played by new problematic than measuring process.
terrorist threat to this country currently
key part. and conventional media (notably the ––Many effective international
comes from individuals and groups who
––But people appear to be vulnerable for internet) in the radicalisation process. interventions have developed outside
attempt to justify murder by reference to
reasons which are more psychological ––Understand how perceived or real governments and in some cases in
a distorted interpretation of Islam and
than simply political. grievances are used by radicalisers other policy areas.
who try to recruit people to their cause
––And very local grievances may be as to justify violence. ––Data on the extent of radicalisation
from among Muslim communities. But
important as protest against global internationally and trends up and down
in the recent past other international Developing effective Prevent
developments. is not consistent or always reliable.
terrorist groups have targeted different interventions
––Group behaviour can be a important
communities here and have justified How can industry and academia help?
factor: recruitment may precede
killing on other grounds. The Challenge: Industry and academia may be able to
We need to develop effective ways to apply existing or new research to:
The numbers and percentiles of people ––Communities in this country are
challenge the radicalisation process.
who are recruited to violent extremism subject to influence from here and ––Capture best practice from around
Some interventions, which have been
are very small. But the impact they can overseas. the world, notably in communities and
developed to address this challenge
have is disproportionately large. ––Prevent works in an area of high Non-Government Organisations.
in this and other countries, seek to
political sensitivity: it can wrongly be ––Understand the comparative merits of
Domestic violent extremist groups (e.g. change behaviours (i.e. disengagement);
construed as a critique of Muslim approaches based on attitudinal and
from the far right) are also active in this others aim to change attitudes (i.e.
communities. behavioural change.
country. They have their own message, de-radicalisation). Some aim to do
––Understand what works from other
exploit a different community and seek How can industry and academia help? both. Government is already funding
fields of intervention such as health
a different range of targets. Industry and academia may be able to interventions and best practice is
and crime, and investigate their
apply existing or new research to: emerging. But we need to do more.
Refining our understanding of application to preventing radicalisation.
radicalisation ––Understand the reason for and ––Improve methods of outcome
process involved in the transition from evaluation drawing on knowledge of
The Challenge: extremism to violent extremism. successful assessments in other fields
Violent extremist groups would not be ––Explore the techniques used by ––Better understand the broader global
able to operate without recruiting people radicalisers and determine who and trends: how prevalent is radicalisation
who are vulnerable to their extremist what makes an effective recruiter. to violent extremism?
message. We need to better understand ––Develop a greater understanding of
vulnerability and the processes of the needs and challenges faced by
radicalisation. It is particularly important communities who are targeted by
to understand the comparative influence radicalisers and establish what factors
of ideological, psychological and social have made and still make communities
factors operating in this country and ‘resilient’ to violent extremism.
on this country from overseas8. The
Government can continue to identify
appropriate responses and evaluate
the impact of existing counter-
radicalisation projects9.

10 11
Section 2 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 2
behavioural science
Key challenges How academia and industry
Key challenges
can play their part

Key challenges:

One of the objectives in CONTEST Common features of the challenge: Improving protective security Common features of the challenge:
is to reduce the vulnerability of the UK ––There is no unique set of behaviours ––Repetitive security procedures are often
and its interests to terrorist attack. or ‘profile’ that always reveals terrorists The Challenge: poorly understood and sometimes are
This is the purpose of Protect. It or their intentions. Protective security requires effective circumvented or ignored.
requires protection of critical national ––Many behaviours which may be thought monitoring, detection, searching ––Operators become subject to
infrastructure, crowded places, the suspicious can be entirely innocent (e.g. of people at transport hubs) and complacency, fatigue and boredom.
transport system, our borders, and ––Crowded places present high-volume response (e.g. to a suspect package). ––Large numbers of people require
our interests overseas; and protection movements of people. We need to improve these processes. processing at checkpoints.
against threats from insiders. ––Insiders have legitimate access We also need to improve the design ––Most positives will be false.
to their organisation’s assets and and management of environments to
Reducing our vulnerability to terrorist How can industry and academia help?
premises which they can exploit for make them harder targets for terrorists†.
attack involves developing ways to Industry and academia may be able to
unauthorised purposes. And we need to make it easier for
identify terrorist behaviours and the apply existing or new research to:
the public and employees to follow
deployment of counter-measures How can industry and academia help?
security instructions, ensuring minimal ––Develop techniques that promote
that deter, disrupt and minimise the Industry and academia may be able to
disturbance and intrusion. security awareness and vigilance
harm caused by those engaging in apply existing or new research to:
amongst employees, notably in
terrorist activities. In responding to
––Improve understanding of the national infrastructure organisations.
this challenge we need to ensure that
behavioural indicators of concealment ––Develop ways to improve the
security measures command public
of small arms, explosives or other attention and response-time of
consent, minimise intrusion and do
materials associated with attack security personnel.
not create disproportionate disruption
planning. ––Combine the social and physical
to everyday life.
––Develop methods and approaches sciences to optimise the performance
that might facilitate the detection of of security personnel and improve
Identifying suspicious behaviour
terrorist research, reconnaissance the design and management of
and attack planning, or help frustrate vulnerable sites.
The Challenge:
and deter such activities. ––Develop techniques that help the
An individual’s behaviour may contain
––Improve systems and human public to understand and follow
clues as to their intent. We need
processes to automate the detection security measures.
to develop techniques that enable
of these indicators.
identification of terrorist actions and
behaviours in a range of contexts:
these might include crowded places,
key infrastructure locations or security
checkpoints, such as the airport or UK
border. Any approach must be proven,
minimise intrusion and enable people to
go freely about their day to day activities.

†Information about the Government’s approach to reducing

the vulnerability of crowded places to terrorist attack will
12 be published shortly and can be found at http://security.
Section 2 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 2
behavioural science
Key challenges How academia and industry
Key challenges
can play their part

Key challenges:

The Prepare workstream aims to mitigate Common features of the challenge: Improving the operational effectiveness Common features of the challenge:
the impact of a terrorist attack where ––Multiple situations causing variable of emergency response teams ––No two emergency situations will be
it cannot be stopped. This includes levels of fear and public concern (for exactly the same. There will be a
work to manage an ongoing attack as example radiation, biological, chemical The Challenge: degree of uncertainty about every
well as to recover from its aftermath. incidents). Emergency Response Teams (Police, emergency situation.
Effective Prepare work means ensuring ––Multiple audiences, some with existing Fire and Ambulance Services), provide ––Multi-agency response teams have
that capabilities are in place to deal relationships to others in the group crucial assistance during the early different priorities, training and
with a range of terrorist incidents, that (e.g. families). stages of an incident and will help expectations.
there is continuity or swift recovery ––Complex links between group and determine long-term recovery. We need ––Group behaviour occurs among
in our critical national infrastructure individual behaviour. to understand the factors which make a those involved in an incident and in
following an incident, and that crisis ––Varying levels of leadership. team effective, including coordination, Emergency Response teams.
management structures are appropriately communication, command and ––There are varying levels of effective
How can industry and academia help?
equipped and trained. It is essential control, and training. We also need to leadership in command, control,
Industry and academia may be able to
that emergency services can respond understand the expectations and needs advice and coordination roles during
apply existing or new research to:
effectively to a wide range of incidents of people at the scene of an incident, and following an incident. Emergency
and recover as quickly as possible. ––Enhance our understanding of how and the roles and actions of Emergency advice may come from multiple
crowds behave in emergencies. Response Teams. sources.
Understanding crowd behaviour during ––Understand the implications
How can industry and academia help?
terrorism incidents and emergencies of collective resilience for the
Industry and academia may be able to
management of crowds.
apply existing or new research to:
The Challenge: ––Collect evidence regarding the
The behaviour of crowds following an relationship between communications ––Develop training to improve the
incident can determine its impact. and crowd behaviour. effectiveness of Emergency Response
Crowd behaviour may help to alleviate ––Provide clear guidance about the Teams.
potential problems: members of the relative importance of pre-event and ––Understand the impact of effective
public may be the first responders on post-event (early) communications. leadership, communications and
the scene and appropriate action may ––Provide clear guidance about the coordination on the operational
help to save life or prevent injury. But a impact of effective command and effectiveness of Emergency Response
crowd may create additional problems: control on crowd behaviour. Teams.
panic and chaotic behaviour may hinder ––Develop communication tools and ––Understand how the expectations of
evacuation, the handling of casualties strategies for managing crowds. those affected by an incident will fit
and public health interventions. We with the capabilities of Emergency
need to understand the reaction of Response Teams.
crowds to different situations and
how to respond.

14 15
Section 2 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 2
behavioural science
Key challenges How academia and industry
Key challenges
can play their part

Key challenges:

Some challenges apply across more How can industry and academia help? Communicating with the public, Common features of the challenge:
than one of the CONTEST work-streams Industry and academia may be able to stakeholders and communities ––Delivering clear and consistent
and may impact on all aspects of apply existing or new research to: messages which are also flexible
counter-terrorist work in the UK. The Challenge: enough to reach multiple audiences
––Develop ways to help security experts Communicating with the public, that ‘hear’ the same message in
and front-line workers to understand stakeholders and communities is a vital
Reducing false positives in our different ways
and improve their own judgements part of our counter-terrorism work. Used
counter-terrorist work ––measuring and influencing complex
and decision making well, communications can protect the attitudes on counter-terrorism issues
The Challenge ––Reduce the number of false positives public from terrorist attacks by keeping across a wide range of audiences,
Many activities and characteristics by improving our processes for the them informed and alert, aware of both where these attitudes are privately
of terrorists are common to those detection of significant signals the threat we face and the measures we held and sensitive
of innocent members of the public. ––Reduce the impact of false positives, have in place to manage it. ––Some of the populations we need to
Methods of detecting possible terrorist and the chance of missing a true
Communications can deliver a clear and understand better if we are to reach
activity can produce many false alarms. positive, by improving our processes
persuasive statement of the reasons them successfully are small, difficult to
We need to find ways to reduce them. for investigating and reacting to
for Government policy, in particular access and already heavily surveyed.
apparently significant signals.
Common features of the challenge: around questions of balancing public How can industry and academia help?
––The number of terrorists is very small safety with the protection of individual Industry and academia may be able to
compared to the number of people who human rights. apply existing or new research to:
pass through any security system. Communications can also create ––Develop robust ways to understand the
––There is a very high cost (human, resilience to terrorist propaganda. relationship between communications
social and financial) to the UK if a Effective communications of this kind and attitude and behaviour change,
genuine positive signal is missed depend on an understanding of factors and to measure the effect of counter-
––There is also a lower but still which make violent extremism attractive terrorism communications in changing
substantial cost for each false or protect communities and individuals attitudes or behaviour (for example
positive to which we respond against it. public understanding of Government
––Rapid expert judgements need counter-terrorism policy or of levels
Different audiences can react in a
to be made repeatedly. of threat, or community resistance
range of ways to the same message.
Understanding how messages should to radicalisation)
be constructed and the effects they ––Understand the right (and wrong)
can have are vital to Government’s audiences for communications aimed
continuing dialogue on counter-terrorism at changing attitudes to violent
with the public. extremism
––Understand the relative importance of
broadcast press, other media sources,
communities, groups and individuals
in communicating Government policy
relating to the CONTEST strategy or
shaping support for or resistance to
violent extremism.

16 17
Section 2 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section
behavioural science
Key challenges How academia and industry
to get involved
can play their part

In this section we explain how

academia, industry and other
Understanding the economic and social ––People will experience and respond to
research organisations can
engage with Government and
impacts of terrorism and counter- counter-terrorist measures in different
terrorism interventions ways and have variable understanding
about them.

other relevant bodies. We set

The Challenge: ––In common with many other policies,
Calculating the wider impact of terrorist counter-terrorist work will have
events is a complex problem as such unintended consequences.

out what we are doing to develop

events are low-probability and high-
How can industry and academia help?
impact (also known as ‘shocks’). They
Industry and academia may be able to
can cause significant loss of life. They
apply existing or new research to:
may also have financial and social
impacts resulting from disruption and
damage to infrastructure, from loss of
––Understand the cost of shocks
(low-probability, high-impact events),
our links with academia and
confidence and enforced change of
lifestyle and work patterns.
and how society responds to them.
––Understand the priorities people
attach to privacy and security.
industry bodies engaged in
social and behavioural science.
The aim of CONTEST, the Government
––Understand how people value
counter-terrorist strategy, is “to reduce
protection from potential terrorist
the risk to the UK and its interests
attacks in different circumstances,
overseas from international terrorism,
from everyday commuting to attending
so that people can go about their lives
major events.
freely and with confidence”. But counter-
––Understand how this changes with
terrorism policies inevitably also have
any shift in public perception of the
some economic and social impact.
likelihood and effect of a terrorist
It is essential that we understand
both the effects of terrorism and
––Improve our estimates of cost-benefit
counter-terrorism in order to develop
ratios for individual policies.
the best policies for addressing the
––Identify the direct impact of counter-
threat we face.
terrorist measures and policies on
Common features of the challenge: individuals and communities.
––The risk from terrorism is low- ––Assess societal attitudes towards
probability but high-impact which counter-terrorism measures and
makes it difficult to compare to the communications.
costs of tackling it. ––Understand how interventions
––A balance needs to be drawn will effect the complex dynamics
between measures intended to of the social systems and predict
preserve our right to security and at least some of the unintended
our rights to privacy. consequences.

18 19
Section 3 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 3
Behavioural Science
How to get involved How academia and industry
How to get involved
can play their part

I’m in academia or industry with a

bright idea. Who should I contact?

OSCT CPNI Ministry Of Defence CT CENTRE Home Office Scientific

The Office for Security and Counter The Centre for the Protection of National With terrorist threats becoming Development Branch
Terrorism (OSCT) was set up as part Infrastructure (CPNI) is the Government increasingly sophisticated and diverse, The Home Office Scientific Development
of the Home Office in March 2007. It body responsible for protective security science and technology is playing an Branch (HOSDB) is a core part of
supports the development, direction, advice to owners and operators of the ever more important role in the planning, the Home Office that helps to apply
implementation and governance of UK’s Critical National Infrastructure. preparation and prosecution of military technology to reduce crime and counter
CONTEST. It also delivers those aspects CPNI aims to ensure researchers and security operations. The Counter- terrorism. It provides expert advice
of CONTEST that fall to the Home Office. understand security needs in order to Terrorism Centre serves as a hub to and support to the Home Office and its
In relation to science and technology, stimulate and give direction to future make the most of resources in the MOD. partners on any issue relating to science
including social and behavioural research efforts. CPNI will also identify While the primary objective of the Centre and technology, creating new and
science, its role is to coordinate and existing research that relates to their is to focus on MOD requirements, it can innovative technical solutions.
direct research and development own research interests. CPNI works also help other government departments HOSDB helps the Home Office meet its
relevant to counter-terrorism. OSCT directly with individuals and research engaged in domestic counter-terrorism. strategic objectives in policing, crime
periodically releases open research groups, supporting/funding council reduction, counter-terrorism, border
calls in counter-terrorism science and activities and commissioning work security and identity management.
runs the INSTINCT programme, which from university consultancies. Examples of HOSDB’s work include:
aims to improve the Government’s
ability to be an effective customer of ––providing technical know-how to
innovation. The Science and Technology improve video and CCTV operations.
Team in OSCT will help academics or ––developing techniques for identifying
representatives from industry access and detecting chemical and biological
the relevant department and provide material.
further information about research calls ––developing techniques for ensuring
and INSTINCT. the physical safety of government and
other key buildings.
––developing techniques for detecting
hidden weapons and explosives
––evaluating methods of passenger
Although not directly involved in social
and behavioural science, HOSDB’s work
often touches upon this area, especially
as regards human factors.

20 21
Section 3 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 3
Behavioural Science
How to get involved How academia and industry
How to get involved
can play their part

How does the Government

gain scientific advice on

The Home Office Science Advisory The Government Office for Science Social and behavioural science in Home Office’s scientists and
Committee (HOSAC) The Government Office for Science Government researchers
HOSAC is the overarching scientific (GO-Science) is led by the Government There are four umbrella bodies within The Home Office has skilled specialist
advisory committee at the Home Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA). Government that oversee work in social staff including social researchers,
Office. Chaired jointly by the Permanent GO-Science works to ensure that and behavioural science: statisticians, economists, operational
Secretary and an independent member Government policy and decision making researchers, engineers, physical
––The Government Social Research
of the Committee, HOSAC’s membership is underpinned by robust science and scientists and veterinarians who provide
Service (GSR) provides government
comprises individuals nominated by engineering evidence and long term support for all aspects of the Home
with objective, reliable, relevant and
learned societies from both the social thinking. The GCSA reports to the Prime Office’s remit.
timely social research. It also supports
and physical sciences and the Chairs of Minister and Cabinet and works with all
the development, implementation, Home Office scientists and researchers
the other science advisory committees Government departments. GO-Science review and evaluation of policy and provide objective, scientific advice to
in the department. HOSAC currently has also supports the community of Chief
delivery and ensures policy debate is help evidence-based policy decisions
several sub-committees, including the Scientific Advisers (CSAs) across informed by the best research evidence and support the delivery of our policies.
CBRN advisory sub-committee and the Government. There is a CSA in all major and thinking from the social sciences 10. This includes high quality economic
Surveys, Design and Statistics sub- science-using departments and they are ––The Government Statistical Service analysis and operational research to
committee. HOSAC annually advises on responsible for the quality of science
(GSS) is a decentralised community understand the costs and benefits of
the Home Office’s science and research advice in their area. This includes
which is spread across most Home Office policies and initiatives.
plans and on a range of work across the seeking independent advice on scientific
Government Departments, the Office In addition, our scientists have two
department. Last year the Committee and ethical issues. CSAs have a mix of for National Statistics and the devolved important functions regulating the use
advised on the Science and Technology expert backgrounds, including natural administrations in Scotland and and practice of science through the role
Strategy for Countering International science, engineering and social science. Wales. The primary function of GSS of the Forensic Science Regulator and
is to collect, analyse and disseminate implementing the Animals (Scientific)
official statistics 11. Procedures Act 1986.
––The Government Economic Service
The Home Office carries out its own
(GES) is a similar community covering
research and uses external academic
economists working in Government 12.
review to ensure quality is maintained.
––The Government Operational Research
Many of the department’s social
Service (GORS) is a community of
researchers are embedded in policy
operational researchers which seeks
directorates and agencies to promote
to maximise the benefits Departments
close collaborative working with policy
obtain from deploying OR skills in the
design, implementation and evaluation
of their policies and strategies 13.
Associated with the above umbrella
bodies are professional social and
behavioural scientists, who are
embedded in departments across
Government, and who specialise in
counter-terrorism research. These
scientists work collectively to enhance
the evidence base for CONTEST and to
improve the delivery of the CONTEST

22 23
Section 3 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 3
Behavioural Science
How to get involved How academia and industry
How to get involved
can play their part

How is the Government communicating

with academia?

Research Councils One of these is Global uncertainties: Councils within RCUK that undertake to social injustice and improving
The Research Councils are an important security for all in a changing world. social and behavioural research include: resilience in communities.
route for Government to access the The RCs will work together to address
wider research community that we ––The Economic and Social Research
five interrelated global threats to aspx
need to deliver the science we require. Council (ESRC), which is the UK’s
security – Poverty (and Inequality and
Government has, for some time, had primary research council for funding ––The Arts and Humanities Research
Injustice), Conflict, Transnational Crime,
very productive relationships with a economic and social science Council (AHRC), which funds research
Environmental Stress and Terrorism.
number of Research Councils. We also research. The ESRC strategic plan for to improve understanding of human
have a long-standing concordat with the RCUK’s mission is “to optimise the ways 2009-2014 identifies security, conflict culture and creativity. Previous
Economic and Social Research Council that Research Councils work together and justice as an area of particular programmes have included work
(ESRC) and have recently put in place a to deliver their goals, to enhance the challenge in the social sciences. to understand how individuals and
concordat with the Arts and Humanities overall performance and impact of As their plan states “The challenge communities develop their ideas and
Research Council (AHRC) to formalise UK research, training and knowledge is about understanding the causes beliefs about security and insecurity,
these relationships. transfer and to be recognised by of insecurity, including criminal and why some ideas and beliefs lead to
academia, business and government for terrorist activity, and developing conflict, violence or criminal activity,
We work with the Research Councils to excellence in research sponsorship.” 14 effective means for promoting and whether there is an acceptable
investigate areas of common interest security, addressing vulnerabilities and balance between national security
in both research and regulatory roles encouraging resilience. Research will and the protection of civil liberties
through, for example, providing expertise explore the contemporary drivers of and human rights.
to contribute to research programmes or insecurity; why competition sometimes
through joint funding programmes. develops into violent conflict; the
––The Medical Research Council (MRC),
Research Councils UK (RCUK) is a nature of contemporary conflicts, how
which promotes research into all areas
partnership between the seven they might be resolved and the effects
of medical and related science with
UK research councils (RCs). RCUK mitigated; and how social injustice
the aims of improving the health and
coordinates the delivery of multi- perpetuates insecurities. It explores
quality of life of the UK public and
disciplinary research in six priority areas. how notions of self, community rights,
contributing to the wealth of the nation.
ethics and competing ideas of justice
can be incorporated into new ways
of predicting, managing and avoiding Although these are the primary research
insecurity.” 15 councils concerned with social and
Previous work by ESRC has included behavioural science, human sciences
work with AHRC (see below) and cross into the work of all the Research
the FCO to better understand Councils in the UK. The remaining
radicalisation and violence, and RCs are:
research into new security challenges ––Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
including conflict in cities, the Research Council (BBSRC).
globalisation of private security, the ––Engineering and Physical Sciences
role of military force in the security Research Council (EPSRC).
of civil society, and psychological ––Natural Environment Research Council
dimensions of human security. Future (NERC).
work will include work on the causes of ––Science and Technology Facilities
non-violent versus violent responses Council (STFC).

24 25
Section 3 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 3
Behavioural Science
How to get involved How academia and industry
How to get involved
can play their part

UK Academic Institutions The Learned Societies AURIL UNICO

The UK’s universities are renowned for We will continue to work closely with the AURIL is the Association for University
Unico is the UK’s leading representative
world-class research, and so have an relevant learned societies, working with Research and Industry Links.
body of professionals realising the
important role to play in developing the them on matters of mutual interest and Organised by university staff, its
potential of university and public sector
social and behavioural understanding prioritising research. The Royal Society membership comprises around 1,400
research through commercialisation.
we need to protect the UK. In addition has taken a positive interest in counter- academics, nearly 100 universities,
It provides a forum for the exchange
to working through the research terrorism issues and we have worked and other research establishments and
of best practice in knowledge transfer
councils, we are keen to engage directly closely with them. With respect to social companies. We use AURIL as one route
through conferences and other events.
with universities and other research and behavioural sciences we will work to the research base in UK universities.
Its membership includes over 90
establishments to ensure that we are with the British Academy, the Academy We encourage researchers who would
universities and other public sector
making the best use of research in of Social Sciences and other social like to contribute to counter-terrorism
research organisations.
the UK. We use a variety of informal science learned societies. research to join AURIL.
and formal contacts to achieve this,
including academic liaison, networking
at conferences, issuing formal contracts
for research work, open research calls
and exploring opportunities for joint
working on specific projects.
The Government has links with many
academic institutions in the UK. These
institutions have a large amount of
expertise, particularly in social and
behavioural science. Over the last few
years several have founded institutes
specifically concerned with security and
counter-terrorism and we will continue
to work with these organisations.

26 27
Section 3 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 3
Behavioural Science
How to get involved How academia and industry
How to get involved
can play their part

How is Government communicating Where can I look internationally for

with Industry? information and funding?

OSCT works with industry through RISC – The UK Security and Resilience US Department of Homeland Security US National Consortium on the Study
Industry Suppliers’ Community The Department of Homeland Security of Terrorism and the Responses to
a variety of routes including trade Terrorism (START)
associations, exhibitions, industry RISC provides a focal point for the works to secure the United States
Government to communicate with START is a US Department of Homeland
primes and the Technology Strategy against threats. This includes counter-
industry about its counter-terrorism Security centre of excellence based at
Board. In counter-terrorism, our main terrorism, border security, immigration,
needs. RISC is an alliance of suppliers, the University of Maryland. It uses state-
route to industry is through RISC. and disaster response.
trade associations and academics, of-the-art theories, methods, and data
representing over 2,000 companies The department has a Human Factors from social and behavioural science to
ranging from prime contractors and Behavioural Science Projects section of improve understanding of the origins,
global leaders through to small and its science and technology work. These dynamics, and social and psychological
medium enterprises and start-ups. projects develop and apply the social, impacts of terrorism.
behavioural, and physical sciences to
The trade associations are: START conducts cutting-edge research
improve identification and analysis of
related to the terrorist threat and
––A|D|S, the trade body advancing UK threats, to enhance societal resilience,
includes the full range of disciplines
AeroSpace, Defence and Security and to integrate human capabilities into
within social and behavioural science,
industries formed from the merger of the development of technology.
including sociology, criminology,
the Association of Police and Public The UK Government is working with the political science, psychology,
Security Suppliers (APPSS), the DHS on some of these projects and communication, geography, economics,
Defence Manufacturers Association more information can be found on the and anthropology. The work also
(DMA) and the Society of British DHS website. includes experts in public policy, history,
Aerospace Companies (SBAC). public health, foreign languages, and
––the British Security Industry gc_1218480185439.shtm engineering. The research team provides
Association (BSIA). the homeland-security community and
––Intellect (the UK trade association the public with insights about how and
for the technology industry). why terrorist groups form, about the
We will continue to work with industry decisions and behaviours of individual
and academia through other routes. terrorists and terrorist groups, and
These will include industry liaison, about how societies can best respond
responding to enquiries, networking at to and prepare for terrorist threats.
conferences, exhibitions and events
and through exploring opportunities
in existing science and technology

28 29
Section 3 Countering the terrorist
threat: Social and Section 3
Behavioural Science
How to get involved How academia and industry
How to get involved
can play their part

What should I do next?

EU Research Funding EU: Framework Programme 7 We have set out in this booklet the wide range of challenges that social and
The EU invests in several research Of the above EU research programmes, behavioural science can address. If you are in academia or industry and are working
programmes in security and resilience. FP7 has in the past awarded most in this area or have the potential to support our security and counter-terrorism work,
These include: funding to UK organisations. Security is we want to hear from you.
one of the ten themes of FP7.
––Framework Programme 7 (FP7): The Security theme will award €1.4 If you are unsure about which is the best department or body for you to contact in the
en.cfm?pg=security billion for the seven year period first instance, please get in touch with the CONTEST Science and Technology Unit in
2006-2013 for research related to a set the OSCT. We will be happy to advise you
––European Security Research and
of security topics defined by the EU. The
Innovation Forum (ESRIF): Email:
topics are usually announced formally
in July, inviting responses by November.
––the European Justice Research Area: Most bids are from consortia; consortium members may come from
intro/funding_intro_en.htm the private sector, the public sector or
––European Technology Platforms (ETPs): academia. The bids submitted in 2008 led to the
provisional award of around €14 million
to UK organisations.
The UK Government contributes to the
debate that leads to the selection of
topics, but plays no part in determining
which proposals are selected for
funding. We encourage you to
participate in bidding for this funding.

30 31
Glossary End notes

Glossary End notes

Abbreviation Meaning
A|D|S Aerospace Defence and Security 2
AHRC Arts and Humanities Research Council 3
APPSS Association of Police and Public Security Suppliers Technology-strategy/index.html
AURIL Association for University Research and Industry Links 4
BBSRC Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Tech-Booklet/index.html
BSIA British Security Industry Association 5
CBRN Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear 6
CONTEST The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering International Terrorism 7
CPNI Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure Section 5.0
CSA Chief Scientific Adviser
8 Section 5.25
CT Counter-Terrorism 9 Section 9.29
DHS Department of Homeland Security 10
DMA Defence Manufacturers Association 11
EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 12
ESRC Economic and Social Research Council
ESRIF European Security Research and Innovation Forum 13
ETP European Technology Platform 14
EU European Union 15
FP7 Framework Programme 7 (an EU programme) securityandconflict.aspx
GCSA Government Chief Scientific Adviser
GES Government Economic Service
GORS Government Operational Research Service
GO-Science Government Office for Science
GSR Government Social Research Service
GSS Government Statistical Service
HOSAC Home Office Science Advisory Committee
HOSDB Home Office Scientific Development Branch
INSTINCT INnovative Science and Technology IN Counter-Terrorism
MOD Ministry of Defence
MRC Medical Research Council
NERC Natural Environment Research Council
OSCT Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism
RC Research Council
RCUK Research Councils UK
RISC UK UK Security and Resilience Industry Suppliers’ Community
SBAC Society of British Aerospace Companies
START US National Consortium on the Study of Terrorism and the
Responses to Terrorism
STFC Science and Technology Facilities Council

32 33
© Crown copyright
Produced by the Office for Security
and Counter-Terrorism, a Directorate
of the Home Office, March 2010