Combatting terrorism with a user-centred approach

Home Office

Redesigning a service that allows citizens to report online terrorist materials provided better intelligence to the police

The challenge

The sharing of terrorist and extremist content online is a serious problem for law enforcement agencies. In 2019, The European Commission identified up to 400 online platforms that were hosting content they thought could lead to terrorist radicalisation.

The Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) is repsonsible for removing terrorist content from the internet. In 2020 they asked us to make improvements to an online form that allows members of the public to notify them about extremist content they find online.

They asked us to redesign the form and add new functionality to encourage users to provide better quality information.

Designing with evidence

We reviewed a years’ worth of analytics data to understand where reports originated from, which devices they used and any feedback users had given about how the form could be improved.

We also reviewed how international governments collect similar data and facilitated a workshop with CTIRU to understand their ways of working, challenges and aspirations.

A photo of sketches on a wall
Collaborative working to refine prototypes

Based on the findings we created a prototype which we tested with 6 users in their own homes or a public setting to create a more realistic experience of how they’d access the service.

We included users with accessibility needs, low digital skills and those who speak English as a second language to try and ensure nobody was prevented or discouraged from reporting.

Three pages of the service viewed on a mobile device
A selection of pages viewed on a mobile device

Encouraging better intelligence

Based on our research and findings from prototype testing we redesigned the form to work better for users.

A photo of the mobile view of the homepage
A page of the new service on mobile

Changes we made included:

  • allowing users to upload images or videos of the content using their mobile, tablet or computer
  • including simple instructions and visuals to help users with lower digital skills take screenshots or find links to websites or posts
  • reassuring reluctant users by allowing them to submit their report anonymously and removing references to the Home Office and police
  • optimising the service to ensure it’s easy to use on any device, including mobile devices

The improved service was built and went live in November 2020. In feedback the client indicated they were very satisfied with our work.

Talk to us

Whether you’re ready to start your project now or you just want to talk things through, we’d love to hear from you.

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