CREST: Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (Oct 2015 - Oct 2018)

Lead academic: Dr Cerwyn Moore
Academic partners: Lancaster University, Portsmouth University, Cranfield University, University of Bath, University of the West of England
Non-academic partners: UK security and intelligence agencies; The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Funding: ESRC


The Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) is a national hub for understanding, countering and mitigating security threats. CREST brings together the UK’s foremost expertise in understanding the psychological and social drivers of the threat, the skills and technologies that enable its effective investigation, and the protective security measures that help counter the threat in the first place. It does so within a context of significant stakeholder and international researcher engagement, and with a clear plan for sustained and long-term growth.

The activities of CREST are designed to enhance the understanding and skills of practitioners while simultaneously improving the capacity of researchers to deliver high-quality, impactful research. To achieve this, the Centre will deliver five Agendas:

  • Knowledge Synthesis. Activities that consolidate the existing research and domain-expertise to deliver an evidence-base that enhances current policy and practice, and identifies areas where further work is needed.
  • Original Research. Activities that deliver high-quality research and research implementation (e.g. software to support analysts) that advance the state-of-the-art of knowledge and practice in diverse areas of social science and security.
  • Communication. Activities in which traditional and innovative communication media are used to ensure that the outputs of the Knowledge Synthesis and Original Research Agendas have the maximum impact on stakeholders and the public.
  • Network. Activities that identify and share new knowledge and promote new ideas, encourage new conversations, build interdisciplinary networks, and facilitate long-term collaborations among the security, intelligence, government, industry, and researcher communities.
  • Capacity Building. Activities that both ensure a lasting, world-class legacy for social science research in security, and enhance the knowledge and skills base of security and intelligence practitioners.

Project aims and objectives

The activities of CREST will:

  • Address key stakeholder questions by reviewing the current state-of-the-art and by providing policy and ‘best practice’ recommendations;
  • undertake theoretically motivated, high-quality new research that either addresses gaps identified in the existing literature, or demonstrates the operational relevance of existing knowledge to stakeholder contexts;
  • commission synthetic reviews, workshops, toolkit development, and research projects through a transparent and competitive process that delivers scientific excellence, stakeholder relevance, and value for money;
  • produce a range of innovative outputs that effectively communicate state-of-the-art knowledge to the security and intelligence agencies, wider government scientists and policy makers, researchers, industry partners, local communities and the public.
  • run engagement events that encourage interaction between academic and stakeholder and public communities at both the strategic and grass-roots level, building over time an interdisciplinary community
  • produce the next generation of researchers and educators, deliver formal professional development for stakeholders, and engage SME and industry to support innovation.

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Visit the CREST website at:

Outputs to date

The P1 team at Birmingham focuses on ‘Actors and Narratives.’ This Programme examines the narratives of people who get involved in, and disengage from, terrorism. The outputs will enrich our understanding of individual motivators, which will inform methods of threat assessments and intervention. Led by Dr Cerwyn Moore at the University of Birmingham.

The team spans two main disciplines – political science and psychology. The key themes it covers are:

  • Ideological variance and cultures of violence.
  • Risk assessment including criminal and psychological pathways to extremism.
  • Innovation and creativity in clandestine political groups.
  • Icons and symbols in extremism.
  • The emotional appeal of extremist narratives.

Guide: The Caucasus Emirate  

After Islamic State

Series of workshop posters on the CREST website

‘Russian-Speaking’ Fighters In Syria, Iraq And At Home: Consequences And Context 

'After IS' workshop report IV 

'After IS' workshop report III 

‘After IS’ Workshop Report II 

Explainer: The Chechen Conflict

Remainers And Leavers: Foreign Fighters After The ‘Islamic State’

Transnational Activism Through The Ages

After St Petersburg: Russia And The Threat From Central Asian Terror Networks

Russia's Domestic Terrorism Threat Is Serious, Sophisticated And Complex 

Loyal Footsoldiers – The Attractions Of EDL Activism

What Role Do Women Play In Violent Extremism?

CREST Security Review – 'After IS'

After Islamic State – Workshop Report