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University research will help close gap on terrorist content online

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A collaborative project supported by Sheffield Hallam University will help address counter terrorism challenges faced by European law enforcement agencies

The project, named TENSOR, is led by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and supported by the University's CENTRIC (Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research).

The TENSOR project is supported by multiple organisations and partners across Europe with 16 partners from seven European countries involved in the research and innovation, which is funded by EC Horizon 2020.

The main focus of the project is to keep people safe, through collaborative research and innovation, to develop a platform offering law enforcement agencies fast and reliable planning and prevention functionalities for the early detection of terrorist activities, radicalisation and recruitment.

Professor Babak Akhgar, director of CENTRIC and TENSOR Technical and Scientific lead, said: “The TENSOR project will provide law enforcement agencies with state of the art capacities to combat violent radicalisation inspired by online content. The project can also enhance law enforcement agencies ability to identify and analyse terrorist generated content in order to protect citizens.

“The legal and ethical framework of the project will provide a safeguarding mechanism to ensure that the TENSOR solutions are shaped by the privacy and data protection laws that protect the freedom of citizens across Europe in their use of the internet."

The project consortium recognises that for the majority of citizens, the internet is a valuable resource in day to day life. But for criminals and terrorists, it provides opportunities to exploit it as a tool where they can communicate with affiliates, coordinate action plans, raise funds, and introduce new supporters or recruits into their networks.  These activities present a significant risk to the citizens of Europe.

The TENSOR consortium will work to develop an integrated solution for law enforcement agencies, the aim of which is to increase their ability to identify and analyse terrorist generated content on the internet.

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Drew Harris, PSNI Deputy Chief Constable, said: “Terrorists and criminals use the internet to connect with each other, source tools and techniques and grow support for their ideology. In that way, we see technology utilised in a dangerous way, a way which has the potential to threaten the safety and security of communities across Europe. The research undertaken in the TENSOR project will play an important part in working to increase the capability of law enforcement agencies to prevent and detect the use of the internet by terrorist and increase community safety.

“European funded security research and development work brings together some of the most experienced researchers, technical developers and practitioner’s from across Europe.

"The TENSOR project topic is challenging and very current. As law enforcement and security agencies seek to defeat the terrorist threat, we must ensure that we are developing our capabilities to match the challenge we face.  Involvement in funded research and innovation projects ensure that we can do this.”

For press information: contact Tim Ward in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2811 or email