Published

28 July 2021

The Institute for Connected Communities (ICC) at the University of East London (UEL) began its Festival of Social Research 2021 with a lecture by two of its professors who are both helping the world negotiate the challenges of cybercrime.

In their lecture, Cybercriminology & Cyberpsychology: Transdisciplinary by Design Professor Julia Davidson, OBE and director of the ICC, and Professor Mary Aiken illuminated the shadows of online criminality and its intersections with the offline world. It marked the first in a month of events throughout July for the ICC Festival of Social Research.  

The lecture was also an insight into the collaborative and connected modes of working at the ICC and the impacts of its research. Both professors advise governments and leading crime enforcement agencies, such as Europol, INTERPOL and the Metropolitan Police, in the shaping of strategy, policy and policing.

Cybercriminality has skyrocketed in the pandemic. Research is running fast to keep pace. As Professor Aiken says, 

Harmful behaviours are evolving at the speed of technology.

It’s a situation that necessitates a rapid research response and the compacting of traditional lifecycles. In one case, the professors cited an important piece of research on youth pathways into cybercrime for Europol that progressed from concept to publication in ten and a half months, a fraction of the time taken to produce research in other academic scenarios.

Both Professor Davidson and Professor Aiken have each been publicly recognised for the impact their research has had in mitigating the harms of cybercrime. Professor Davidson was awarded the OBE in 2020. Professor Aiken was portrayed by Oscar winner, Patricia Arquette, in CSI: Cyber, the CBS network series.

Professor Verity Brown, pro-vice chancellor (impact and innovation) and Doctor Darren Sharpe, senior research fellow at the ICC, also spoke to an audience that, appropriately, was both actual in the Grand Hall at UEL Stratford campus and virtual on Microsoft Teams.

Professor Brown said, “We are honoured to have two academics of such global influence and impact The collaborations of Professor Davidson and Professor Aiken epitomise the Institute ethos of getting out of traditional silos to look at deeper and complex connections that exist in society, locally, nationally and globally.”

The Festival of Social Research continues throughout July. The full timetable features a diverse range of events from ICC webinars on 20th and 21st July to a drop-in research clinic on 22nd July. On 19th July, Early Careers Researchers will give a presentation on the Institute’s latest upcoming research projects. 

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