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Research project

Counter-terrorism and ‘digital human trafficking’

Project overview

Stimulus Fund Project

This project aims to address a crucial research and policy gap between counterterrorism and what we shall describe as ‘digital human trafficking’. In a recent British case, charges for ‘preparing terrorist acts’ were dropped after the Home Office’s Single Competent Authority (SCA) concluded that the defendant, a 14-year-old girl, had been a victim of human trafficking. For the SCA there were ‘conclusive grounds’ the girl had been groomed and exploited (including sexually), particularly by an older male extremist in the USA.

Despite no physical movement, her international online communications on forums and with individuals linked to terrorist organisations reportedly amounted to trafficking under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA), serving as a statutory defence for the terrorism charges.


Lead researcher

Dr Gina Vale

Lecturer of Criminology

Research interests

  • Terrorism
  • Violent Extremism
  • Rebel Governance
Connect with Gina
Other researchers

Professor Leslie Carr

Professor of Web Science
Connect with Leslie

Dr Avi Boukli

Associate Professor of Criminology
Connect with Avi

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs