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PROTON Report Summary

Project ID: 699824
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.7.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROTON (Modelling the PRocesses leading to Organised crime and TerrOrist Networks)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2018-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Organised Crime and Terrorist Networks (OCTNs) pose a systemic threat to societies, and crime control policies alone seem to be insufficient to hinder their development. The reduction of opportunities has emerged as a complementary and effective strategy with which these threats can be tackled. In this context, PROTON is based on the concept that a deeper knowledge of the processes giving rise to OCTNs can help to improve international, national and local policies and to develop effective reduction strategies. By responding to the three main priorities of the European Agenda on Security – terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime - PROTON adopted an innovative and multidisciplinary approach to analyse social, psychological and economic factors leading to OCTNs and their relations with cyberspace.

The overall objective of the project is to improve existing knowledge on the processes of recruitment to OCTNs through the integration between social and computational sciences. This will result in the development of ABM Simulations and PROTON Wizard which will support the creation of evidence-based policies at the international, national and local level. In particular, PROTON Simulations will incorporate the factors leading to the radicalization and recruitment to OCTNs and create virtual societies where these processes will be reproduced; PROTON Wizard will operationalise the results allowing policy and decision makers to test the impact of different scenarios on OCTNs recruitment.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In the first half of the project, research partners focused on data collection and analysis of the factors leading to organised crime (WP1), terrorism (WP2) and their connections with cyberspace and cybercrime (WP3). They produced systematic reviews of the existing literature as well as innovative studies from the social, psychological and economic perspectives and published public deliverables D1.1, D2.1 and D3.1. The results of these work packages are crucial for the development of the whole project, since they will feed into other partners’ work (WP4 and 5) and will allow the operationalisation of the ABM models and PROTON final tool, the PROTON Wizard.

Besides research activities, ethical, societal, and legal implications have been constantly monitored throughout the project (WP6), and societal impact assessments informed the partners of the possible impact of their research. In addition, an Ethical and Legal Advisory Group (ELAG) independently reviews PROTON’s results to ensure the compliance with ethics requirements.

The Consortium has promoted the dissemination of project’s results by participating in conferences, workshops and events and seeking synergies with other projects to optimise communication activities and foster future collaborations. The project has reached an estimate of 32,000 people in the first phase. Partners met in person during the Kick off meeting (27th-28th October 2016, Milan) and first Consortium meeting (16th- 17th October 2017, Jerusalem) to enhance cooperation and ensure the smooth implementation of the project activities.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Going beyond the state of the art, PROTON will advance prevention policies on OCTNs by integrating traditional academic research, innovative studies, and advanced computational capabilities.

Traditional approaches rely on standard statistical methods to extrapolate data on crime occurrence and attempt to predict future events. This method assumes that crime is more likely to occur in the same locations where it occurred in the past, and it does not consider the specific risk factors that influence crime events.

Since the traditional method is not always suitable, PROTON will provide an innovative theory-driven and empirically-based set of models – developed through a process of participatory modelling with stakeholders – with which to explore the dynamics of organised crime and terrorist networks and the recruitment processes essential for the development of these organisations.
On the one hand, PROTON Simulations (PROTON-S) will advance the state of the art by including the factors that contribute to the formation of, as well as radicalization and recruitment to, organised crime and terrorist networks. On the other hand, PROTON Wizard will operationalize the results by providing policy and decision making users with a user-friendly tool with which they can test the impact of social and environmental interventions on different scenarios.

PROTON expects the following results:

1. Advancement in the knowledge on the social, psychological and economic factors leading to OCTNs, including their connection with cybercrime and cyberspace.
2. Development of the first ABM simulations on the processes leading to OCTNs and the recruitment of individuals into these networks. They will enable better evidence-based policies and stimulate further innovation.
3. Development of the first support tool for policymakers (PROTON Wizard). This tool will allow easy access to the most advanced scientific research to non-scientists and support better policies at the international, national and local level.

Finally, PROTON will help policy makers to go beyond traditional mono-directional crime control policies and develop a wide range of innovative policies at the international, national and local level. Once implemented, these policies will make the Union a more secure area, improving its competitiveness at the same time.

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