|Position||Research Fellow and PhD Candidate|
|Institution||Sheffield Hallam University|
|Discipline||Criminology, Sociology, Organisational Studies|
CENTRIC (Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research); C3RI (Cultural Communication and Computing Research Centre)
|Other links||University Profile; LinkedIn; ResearchGate|
Ben joined CENTRIC in the spring of 2013 after graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a first-class honours degree in Business Information Systems. Since then, he has worked across a variety of research projects focused on policing and organised crime while studying towards his PhD on a part-time basis. Ben’s primary research interest is centred on policing responses to contemporary slavery in the UK. More specifically, his PhD research, initially funded as part of an EU FP7 security grant, aims to elicit deeper understanding of the collaborative multi-agency measures being taken to protect and safeguard vulnerable and marginalized groups from exploitation in the UK.
Outside of his studies, Ben’s research has focused modern slavery adjacent issues such as transnational organised crime, police-community engagement, open-source intelligence and child sexual exploitation, often looking at the intersection between technology and crime, both as a criminal enabler and its application by law enforcement in response.
Coinciding with Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery’s rising prominence, Ben’s research seeks to analyse the structure and implementation of a number of regional anti-slavery initiatives in the UK, focusing primarily on the role and impact of collaborative partnerships between both statutory and non-statutory organisations.
Ben’s work covers the full spectrum of activities framed within the UK’s modern slavery strategy, seeking to understand in detail measures targeting both the reduction of threat posed by those engaged in modern slavery and human trafficking, and reducing the vulnerability of those individuals and groups affected by it through the improvement of victim identification, safeguarding and support services. The project seeks to address part of the conceptual and practical underpinning of approaches employed by UK law enforcement to tackle and prevent modern slavery, drawing upon empirical evidence from a number of UK regions for comparative analysis.
UNITY, a funded EU H2020 security grant, set out to establish a new citizen-centred approach to community policing. By developing new tools, procedures and technologies, the project put citizens at the heart of identifying policing priorities, making communities themselves an integral part of informing sustainable solutions within their own community. UNITY was established on the principle that across Europe, communities, despite their varying social, cultural, geographic and ethnic differences, have common and shared values in their requirements for their own safety, security and wellbeing. While this is true, the companies that endeavour to provide these services often struggle to connect with the communities and citizens they serve. Despite the maturity and in many cases near ubiquity of technology as a means of digital connectivity, the full potential of this is not really being met when the police consider how best to engage effectively with those residing in their local communities. The end result being that opportunities are being missed to enhance community cohesion through the sharing of information that may help to ensure the safety and security of citizens. https://www.unity-project.eu
UINFC2, a funded EU DG-Home security grant, aimed to build and strengthen the capabilities of LEAs, citizens and EU bodies to strategically combat the distribution of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) material online. In order to achieve this, UINFC2 designed, developed and pilot tested a multi-lingual online platform for automatically detecting online illegal content from social media, blogs, and underground communities and used this to determine investigative priorities of police. The project made use of the latest technological innovations in the areas of data mining, intelligence, correlation, fuzziness, classification, automatic monitoring, and decision making, to produce clear but comprehensive reports that can be used by law enforcement in their day-to-day roles in preventing, investigating and fighting CSE. http://www.uinfc2.eu/wp/en/
ePOOLICE, an EU FP7 funded security grant, developed a prototype an environmental scanning system, combining a number of breakthrough technologies towards production of an intelligent environmental radar that scanned online sources, including social media, in order to detect ‘weak signals’ of organised crime. A key part of this process is semantic filtering for identification of data items that may consitute ‘weak signals’ of emerging organized crime threats, exploiting fully the concept of crime hubs, crime indicators, and facilitating factors, as understood by the project’s end-user partners. During the project I worked with law enforcement practitioners from across the EU, including EUROPOL, to define content taxonomies for the project’s two primary use cases; human trafficking and drug trafficking. The developed taxonomies formed the basis of semantic rules that were used to filter content and establish their relevance to organised crime. https://www.epoolice.eu
The issue of radicalization leading to terrorism has become a crucial part of Europe’s political and academic agendas. Though violent radicalization is not a new phenomenon, its most recent manifestations require a more comprehensive and holistic approach that addresses not only security concerns but also frames the problem in social and psychological terms. MINDb4ACT, an EU H2020 funded security grant, tries to address limitations in conventional research methodologies through the ‘Living Labs’ framework in which all stakeholders –academia, law enforcement, private sector, governments, municipalities, first-line respondents and other practitioners– collaborate to co-design new practices to prevent violent extremisms addressing all dimensions (security, political, societal and ethical). The main objective of MINDb4ACT is to deliver policy recommendations around four key intervention types; research actions, exchanges among LEAs, strategic-policy exercises, training courses and pilot projects, with contributions from technology industry, social innovation and civic engagement schemes. https://mindb4act.eu
BREWSTER, Benjamin, GIBSON, Helen and GUNNING, Michael (2018). Policing the community together: the impact of technology on citizen engagement. In: LEVANTAKIS, George, HABERFELD, Maria and PAPANIKOLAOU, Panayiotis, (eds.) Societal implications of community‐oriented policing techology. Springer Briefs in Policing . Springer.
MARZELL, Laurence and BREWSTER, Benjamin (2017). Building safer societies: A framework for trust. Crisis Response Journal, 13 (1), 80-82.
CHARALAMBOUS, Elisavet, KAVALLIEROS, Dimitrios, BREWSTER, Benjamin, LEVENTAKIS, George, KOUTRAS, Nikolaos and PAPALEXANDRATOS, George (2017). Combatting cybercrime and sexual exploitation of children: an open source toolkit. In: AKHGAR, Babak, BAYERL, P. Saskia and SAMPSON, Fraser, (eds.) Open source intelligence investigation: from strategy to implementation. Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications . Cham, Springer International Publishing, 233-249.
AKHGAR, Babak and BREWSTER, Benjamin, eds. (2016). Combatting cybercrime and cyberterrorism: challenges, trends and priorities. Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications . Springer.
AKHGAR, Babak, CHORAŚ, Michał, BREWSTER, Benjamin, BOSCO, Francesca, VERMEERSCH, Elise, LUDA, Vittoria, PUCHALSKI, Damian and WELLS, Douglas (2016). Consolidated taxonomy and research roadmap for cybercrime and cyberterrorism. In: AKHGAR, Babak and BREWSTER, Benjamin, (eds.) Combatting cybercrime and cyberterrorism : challenges, trends and priorities. Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications . Cham, Springer International Publishing, 295-321.
ANDREWS, Simon, BREWSTER, Benjamin and DAY, Tony (2016). Organised crime and social media: detecting and corroborating weak signals of human trafficking online. In: HAEMMERLÉ, Ollivier, STAPLETON, Gem and FARON-ZUCKER, Catherine, (eds.) Graph-based representation and reasoning. Lecture notes in computer science (9717). Heidelberg, Springer, 137-150. (In Press)
BAYERL, Petra Saskia, AKHGAR, Babak, BREWSTER, Benjamin, DOMDOUZIS, Konstantinos and GIBSON, Helen (2014). Social media and its role for LEA’s : review and applications. In: AKHGAR, Babak, STANIFORTH, Andrew and BOSCO, Francesca, (eds.) Cyber Crime and Cyber Terrorism Investigators Handbook. Elsevier, 197-220.
HASSANZADEH, Mohammed, JAHANGIRI, Narges and BREWSTER, Benjamin (2014). A Conceptual Framework For Information Security Awareness Assessment. In: AKHGAR, Babak and ARABNIA, Hamid, (eds.) Emerging Trends in ICT Security. Emerging Trends in Computer Science and Applied Computing . Elsevier, 99-110.
BAYERL, Petra Saskia, STANIFORTH, Andrew, AKHGAR, Babak, BREWSTER, Benjamin and JOHNSON, Kayleigh (2014). A framework for the investigation and modelling of online radicalization and the identification of radicalized individuals. In: AKHGAR, Babak and ARABNIA, Hamid, (eds.) Emerging Trends in ICT Security. Emerging Trends in Computer Science and Applied Computing . Elsevier, 539-547.
BREWSTER, Benjamin, INGLE, Timothy and RANKIN, Glynn (2014). Crawling open-source data for indicators of human trafficking. In: 2014 IEEE/ACM 7th International Conference on Utility and Cloud Computing. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 714-719.
BREWSTER, Benjamin, ANDREWS, Simon, POLOVINA, Simon, HIRSCH, Laurence and AKHGAR, Babak (2014). Environmental Scanning and Knowledge Representation for the Detection of Organised Crime Threats. In: HERNANDEZ, Nathalie, JÄSCHKE, Robert and CROITORU, Madalina, (eds.) Graph-Based Representation and Reasoning. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (8577). Springer International Publishing, 275-280.
BREWSTER, Benjamin, POLOVINA, Simon, RANKIN, Glynn and ANDREWS, Simon (2014). Knowledge management and human trafficking: using conceptual knowledge representation, text analytics and open-source data to combat organized crime. In: HERNANDEZ, Nathalie, JÄSCHKE, Robert and CROITORU, Madalina, (eds.) Graph-Based Representation and Reasoning. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (8577). Springer International Publishing, 104-117.
BREWSTER, Benjamin, AKHGAR, Babak, STANIFORTH, Andrew, WADDINGTON, Dave, ANDREWS, Simon and JOHNSON, Kayleigh (2014). Towards a model for the integration of knowledge management in law enforcement agencies. International journal of electronic security and digital forensics, 6 (1), 1-17.