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Intelligence gathering isn’t easy – it’s inevitable that generally accepted processes will fail – Prof Carsten Maple

Intelligence gathering isn’t easy – it’s inevitable that generally accepted processes will fail – Prof Carsten Maple

Professor Carsten Maple is the director of research in Cybersecurity at WMG's Cyber Security Centre (CSC) at the University of Warwick. He has published over 200 peer reviewed papers and is co-author of the UK Security Breach Investigations Report 2010, supported by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Police Central e-crime Unit.

He works with various departments such as the Association of Chief Police Officers, the College of Policing, Interpol, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, to name a few.

Prof Maple said: “The news that MI5 could not have prevented the killing of Lee Rigby according to a report from parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is not a surprise. Intelligence gathering is no easy task and assessments have to be made regularly about the level of risk posed by an individual. Intelligence relies upon accessing data and making judgments about what can be inferred from that data. Inevitably, generally accepted processes will fail, and it is tragic that in this case a horrific murder was the outcome.

“In a week in which the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill is back on the agenda, there are questions about the levels of information that the security intelligence agency had access to. The Bill is designed to place legal requirements on certain businesses to retain information on user communications and has its roots in the Communications Data Bill – the so-called “snooper’s charter” that failed to get through Parliament. It has been said that such a requirement might have prevented the death of Lee Rigby. In truth we cannot say whether this would or not have been the case. In general, even if information is provided immediately it may not prevent an event occurring, since we know that information is not always acted upon immediately, for various reasons. On the other hand intelligence has led to a number of attacks being thwarted. No-one will know what the result would have been if more information was available.

“There is a fine line between our right to privacy and ensuring public safety. What needs to be recognised is that there needs to be appropriate oversight of any information collection that ensures the proportionality of ensuring public safety over our rights to privacy.​”

Note to Editors:

Professor Maple is available for interviews. Call 07850 297 725 or email

Issued by Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:


Professor Maple

07850 297 725

Lee Page, Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255

Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221