On receiving the honour from HRH the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle, Professor Davidson said, "I am delighted to have been awarded an OBE for services to Internet safety. This is a great honour both for me and for the Institute for Connected Communities at UEL. I have worked in the child sexual abuse and exploitation area with victims/survivors, practitioners and policy makers for over 30 years.
"During that time it has been a pleasure to work with the most dedicated group of colleagues who are without exception equally committed to child protection both online and offline and to making the Internet a safer place for children and young people."
At the Institute for Connected Communities, the cutting edge national and international research in this area focuses on child and adult online harms, young people and cybercrime, child online protection, safety tech, online child abuse and exploitation and online offending. The Institute's academics work extensively with a large network of academic, industry, charity and third sector partners on applied research that informs policy and practice across the globe.
These include organisations such as the Technology Coalition, UNICEF, the US Sentencing Commission, and the UN International Telecommunication Union, the UK Home Office, Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, and Professor Davidson is a member of the Europol EC3 Expert Academic Advisory Group.
She is currently co-leading an H2020 project exploring the human and technical drivers of cybercrime and has recently worked with OFCOM to develop a child online risk taxonomy for Video Sharing Platforms in the context of the forthcoming UK online harms legislation bill.
She is Chair of the UK Council for Internet Safety Evidence Group and Chair of the Research Ethics Committee for the Independent Inquiry into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse as well as acting as an advisor on online child protection to governments and agencies, including in Africa, the Middle East and South America.
Professor Davidson has a very strong sense of connection to the University and the East End. She was born in Bethnal Green and lived in and around London for many years. She is a UEL alumna having taken her first degree at the university and then moving on to the London School of Economics to take a Master's degree followed by a PhD.
Her first job was with the North East London Probation Service in the 1980s where she worked as a researcher across the boroughs of Newham, Redbridge, Havering and Barking & Dagenham.
Professor Davidson's research in the 1990s focused initially upon serious offending including child sexual abuse and has since gone on to focus more broadly on children and young people online and on perpetrators of a broad range of cybercrimes including online child abuse and sexual exploitation, Julia’s research with the UKCIS Evidence Group recently informed the UK Online Safety Bill.
Professor Amanda Broderick, vice-chancellor and president of the University of East London, said, "We congratulate our colleague Professor Julia Davidson on the day of the investiture of her OBE. The award reflects her extensive expertise and personal impact in this important field. It is especially poignant that she is receiving it on Safer Internet Day 2022.
"As part of the University of East London's Vision 2028 strategy, we are committed to pursuing research that has a meaningful impact on everyday lives - and there can be few more important areas of research than ensuring the protection of children online."