Co-funded by the European Union

PROTON aims at improving existing knowledge on the processes of recruitment to organised crime and terrorist networks through an innovative integration between social and computational sciences.

To achieve its aim, PROTON will complete three specific objectives:


Investigate the social, psychological and economic factors leading to organised crime and terrorist networks, including their connection with cybercrime and the cyberspace.

The factors will be transformed into input for PROTON’s final outputs, PROTON-S and PROTON Wizard, designed for helping policy makers to act more effectively against organised crime and terrorist networks.


Develop PROTON-S, agent-based modelling simulations of the effects of different societal and environmental changes on organised crime and terrorist networks.

PROTON-S will generate virtual societies in a computer laboratory, enabling to test the impact of different scenarios on the evolution of organised crime and terrorist networks and the recruitment of individuals.


Develop PROTON Wizard, a user-friendly software tool embedding the results of the simulations.

PROTON Wizard will provide the first support tool for policy makers at the international, national and local level, giving easy access to the most advanced scientific research.

PROTON’s impact will improve the quality of prevention policies directed towards organised crime and terrorist networks, while also providing significant innovations in the social, technological and computational sciences.

Throughout the course of the project PROTON works closely with different policy makers and end-users in order to ensure that the final results address their specific needs and expectations.

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The innovation potential of PROTON

There are no tools available on the market similar to the final products of PROTON (PROTON-S simulations and PROTON Wizard). The simulations will allow for future updating of the methodology as the needs of policy makers evolve. Furthermore, their use will have no major ethical implications as a result of the information being based on simulations and not on personal data. Policy makers will participate in the development of PROTON-S and PROTON Wizard, ensuring that the final products match their needs and expectations, as well as effective communication and dissemination of the results.

PROTON’s innovation stems from its adoption of ABM simulations instead of relying on more traditional approaches. Predictions of crime are normally carried out with standard statistical methods that extrapolate past data about crime occurrence in space and time, and then attempt to predict future events accordingly. This method is not always suitable, because it assumes that crime is more likely to occur in the same locations where it occurred in the past, and because it is not able to take into account specific risk factors that have a bearing on crime events.

Moreover, existing models on organised crime and terrorist networks already assume the existence of these organisations and are used to deepen understanding of their structure and how to undermine them. However, PROTON-S will provide a 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. PROTON-S constitutes a significant advancement in the state of the art by incorporating the factors that contribute to the formation of, as well as radicalization and recruitment to organised crime and terrorist networks. This approach will result in a more in depth understanding of the life-cycle of an organisation from its formation to its dissolution.

PROTON Wizard will operationalize the results by providing policy and decision making users with easy access to the complex results of PROTON-S. The Wizard will enable users to test the impact of different scenarios on organised crime and terrorist networks recruitment. This user-friendly tool will provide a one-of-a-kind approach to answering that question of ‘what if?’ with regards to the impact of social and environmental interventions.