Research with impact

Key aspects of this research includes the criminal justice system and efforts to tackle financial crime.

Impact REF 2014

Mobile Money and Financial Crime

Based on research conducted by Professor Nicholas Ryder into mobile banking regulation, a telecom company have been able to contribute to growth in these emerging markets internationally. The research findings have enabled the company to understand the anti-money laundering and banking regulation implications of their mobile banking initiatives, giving them confidence and competitive advantage in negotiations by being fully versed in the local and international implications associated with mobile money and banking regulation. As a result, the company was able to successfully launch new subsidiaries, which, by bringing mobile money services to new markets, has had a significant impact on local economies and employment. A full summary is available from REF2014 website.

Impact REF 2020

Criminal Justice Pre-Trial and Bail

UWE Bristol researchers, Professor Ed Cape and Dr Tom Smith examined court decisions regarding the pre-trial detention of criminal defendants. They found that courts made decisions swiftly; that problems existed with disclosure of evidence in advance of hearings; and that reasoning for decisions tended to be generic and lacking detail. In 2017, responding to this research, the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee amended the Criminal Procedure Rules (the rules for procedures in all criminal courts), requiring that: a defendant must be given ‘sufficient time’ to consider evidence disclosed before a hearing; that courts must ensure they have ‘sufficient time’ to make decisions; and that courts must announce decisions by reference to the specific case. These changes to the rules, which are binding on all criminal courts in England and Wales, directly implemented the recommendations of the research – evidence of significant impact.

Financial Crime Compliance

UWE Bristol researcher, Professor Nicholas Ryder, was commissioned by a law enforcement agency to demonstrate how they were able to demonstrate to its funders how they continued to provide ‘value for money’ and maintained efforts to reduce financial losses attributed to fraud. Related and further research conducted at UWE Bristol formed the core element of Transparency International’s submission to the UK Government’s Call for Evidence on Corporate Liability and formed the basis for the delivery of counter terrorism financing training for NATO, EUROPOL, EUROMED Police Force, the Centre for Parliamentary Studies, the Nationwide Building Society, the Wales Fraud Forum, the West Midlands Fraud Forum and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), LexisNexis Risk Solutions, the City of London Police Force, ICT Wilmington Risk & Compliance, Universities South West, the France Telecom Group and the European Social Fund.

Training for the Judicial College on disclosure in criminal proceedings

In January 2020, Dr Tom Smith and Dr Ed Johnston were invited by the Judicial College to deliver training to Circuit (Crown Court) Judges from across England and Wales. The training, focused on long and complex criminal trials, included presentations from Lord Justice Holroyde (Chairman of the Sentencing Council); Professor David Ormerod (a former Law Commissioner); and HHJ Martin Edmunds QC (a member of the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee). Dr Smith and Dr Johnston opened the second day of the training course with their paper, entitled Disclosure in criminal proceedings: Recent legal and policy developments, providing a review of current issues in the area of disclosure and an update on recent key case law.

Presentation on adversarial culture and police disclosure for the College of Policing’s “CPD Fortnight”

In November 2019, Dr Tom Smith was invited to record an online presentation for the College of Policing, entitled Changing Culture? Thinking differently about disclosure. The presentation examines the role of adversarial culture in police decision making regarding disclosure of evidence. It forms part of the College’s “CPD Fortnight”; a national training programme for police officers across England and Wales, providing online access to materials without the need to travel great distances.

Counter-Terrorism Financing Training

Professor Nicholas Ryder has delivered several financial crime related training workshops. For example, in January 2018, Nicholas was invited by NATO’s Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism (Ankara, Turkey) to present his preliminary findings for research he has conducted for the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST). In his paper, Counter-terrorist financing: Interim research results, Nicholas highlighted the continued threat posed by cheap acts of terrorism, how the adoption of the money laundering model towards terrorist financing is inadequate and he identified the funding streams used by ISIS. The paper concludes that the 'Financial War on Terrorism' is no longer fit for purpose. The paper was presented to NATO officials and representatives of 24 different countries.

In March 2019, Professor Ryder delivered a training seminar entitled Terrorism Financing and the Fraud Dossier for the Wales Fraud Forum. The aim of this presentation was to highlight the threat posed by terrorism financing and how fraud has become the funding avenue of choice. The paper presented evidence of an increased use of this funding stream and highlights a number of weaknesses in the UK's counter-terrorism financing regime.

In June 2019, Professor Ryder was invited by the West Midlands Fraud Forum to deliver a training seminar to its members on the relationship between terrorism financing and fraud. The aim of the seminar was to highlight the threat posed by terrorism financing and how fraud has become one of the funding avenues of choice for terrorists. It also aimed to identify weaknesses in the United Kingdom's counter-terrorism financing and it made a series of recommendations aimed at tackling the financing of terrorism.

Furthermore, Professor Ryder delivered two training sessions for CEPOL, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training, at the Italian Inter-Agency College of Advanced Studies for Police Officials in Rome (June 2019). The first workshop concentrated on the international efforts to tackle terrorism financing and how this can be contrasted with terrorism financing. The second workshop initially focused on the traditional sources of terrorism financing and it then moved on to consider several emerging sources of finance including pre-paid debit cards, social media platforms, crypto assets and the use of natural resources.

In September 2019, Nicholas delivered a training workshop for The Nationwide Building Society on the recent trends in terrorism financing, the move by terrorists to acquire financing via social media platforms and the use of cryptoassets. View a copy of Nicholas' presentation on Cryptoassets and Terrorism Financing.

In November 2019 Professor Ryder delivered a training workshop for the EUROMED Police. In the workshop, Nicholas presented the findings of his research that identifies the different sources of financing used by terrorists. He also presented the findings of his recent research on the association between social media platforms/cryptoassets and terrorism financing. View Nicholas's paper on Countering the financing of terrorism: Sources of terrorism financing.

Conference Proceedings

Charlie Robson, a first year PhD candidate travelled to the Centre for Terrorism Research at Coventry University on the 6 September 2018 to present her recent paper at the Society for Terrorism Research Fourth Annual Postgraduate Conference. The paper critically considers the effectiveness of the decision made by the international community to adopt the ‘profit’ reporting model for the purpose of combating the financing of terrorism and was presented to a number of established academics and counter-terrorism practitioners who were in attendance. The paper identifies a series of weaknesses in the reporting regime and concludes by making a series of recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of the international CTF reporting obligations.

Professor Nicholas Ryder was invited by the Nationwide to deliver a conference paper at its 19th Economic Crime Conference last month. This paper is divided into three parts. Firstly, the paper presents evidence how terrorism financiers are able to operate via the Internet and social media platforms. Secondly, it enhances the understanding of the use of Defence against Terrorism Financing (DATF) Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) by highlighting the current weaknesses in the United Kingdom’s (UK) legislative approach. Thirdly, to consider the extension of ‘DATFSARs to payments made via social media platforms. The paper advocates that the exchange of information model between financial institutions, supervisory agencies and the National Crime Agency via the Joint Intelligence Money Laundering Task Force (JMLIT) must be extended to social media platforms.

On Friday 29 November 2019, Sam Bourton delivered a paper titled Insights from the United Kingdom’s Implementation of Key Anti-Money Laundering Obligations at the CFE Tax Advisers 12th European Conference on the Tax Advisers’ Professional Affairs in Paris. The paper examined the impact of the UK’s decision to include tax evasion as a predicate offence to money laundering, as well as the recent implementation of beneficial ownership registers in the UK. On Wednesday, 4 December, Sam also delivered a seminar at the University of Worcester on the topic of The Financial Crime of Tax Evasion: A New Perspective on an Old Problem. The seminar examined national and international perspectives on tax evasion, the methods used to combat this financial crime, and how they have altered over time.

In December 2019, Dr Tom Smith delivered a paper at a conference – entitled Access to Justice: China – UK Dialogues on Criminal Legal Aid and Effective Defenc’ – hosted by SOAS, University of London. The conference was organised following comprehensive reform of the criminal legal aid system in China in 2018, with the aim of exploring emerging issues in the jurisdiction by comparison with the development of legal aid in England and Wales. Tom’s paper, entitled Criminal Legal Aid in England & Wales: A Practical Perspective, explored the historic expansion of criminal legal aid and its subsequent modern decline, considering the implications this might have for effective defence in pre-trial detention hearings and lessons that might be learned for developing systems (such as China).

Conference Key Note Address

Professor Nicholas Ryder gave a keynote address at the Taxlinked Conference, "Beyond Borders: Redefining International Taxation" in Barcelona on Wednesday 15 October 2019. In his talk, The Fifth Money Laundering Directive - A Step Too Far?, Nicholas provided a critical analysis on the aims and scope of the Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD). The presentation appraises several integral amendments that the 5MLD makes to the Fourth Money Laundering Directive (4MLD) which includes the regulation of virtual currencies, pre-paid cards, registers for beneficial ownership, enhanced due diligence and its increased scope. Nicholas also participated in two panel discussions ‘Revisiting Brexit and International Taxation’ and ‘DAC6 Directive – A Closer Analysis of its Hallmarks’.

Financial Crime Detection and Prevention

Due to the research conducted by UWE Bristol into the cost efficiency of the Dedicated Card and Payments Crime Unit (DCPCU), they were able to demonstrate to its funders how they continued to provide ‘value for money’ and maintained efforts to reduce financial losses attributed to fraud. Related and further research conducted at UWE Bristol formed the core element of Transparency International’s submission to the UK Government’s Call for Evidence on Corporate Liability and formed the basis for the delivery of counter terrorism financing training for NATO, EUROPOL, the Centre for Parliamentary Studies and other law enforcement agencies.

The DCPCU approached Nicholas Ryder (Professor in Financial Crime, appointed October 2013) and Jon Tucker (then Professor in Finance, left UWE Bristol in 2018) to conduct research that could enhance the way the DCPCU calculate the savings that are delivered through the work of the DCPCU. UWE Bristol conducted empirical and desk based research, which resulted in a series of recommendations that illustrated the continued cost efficiency of the DCPCU, and that it continued to present value for money to its funders.

The desk-based research from this project contributed towards an investigation on the association between the 2007-08 financial crisis and financial crime. The research was innovative because it concluded that financial crime was a new and previously unattributed factor that contributed towards the financial crisis. The findings and recommendations of this study formed the central argument of Transparency International’s submission to the HM Government Discussion Paper on Corporate Economic Crime in 2017.

Professor Ryder was commissioned by LexisNexis Risk Solutions to conduct a desk-based research project on the United Kingdom’s (UK) anti-money laundering legislation, its enforcement strategies, policy developments and the cost and impact of money laundering. The methodology also included Ryder being interviewed for a thought leadership report and participating in roundtable discussion with senior financial crime experts from the UK public and private sector at one of the most significant gatherings of financial crime professionals in the UK.

Ryder was Co-Investigator for an ESRC-funded project on terrorism financing, which involved desk-based that uniquely identified and defined the Financial War on Terrorism. The research also determined the extent to which it has been implemented in the UK, the United States of America and Australia. The research also resulted ground-breaking research that identified new funding mechanisms used by terrorism financiers including cryptoassets and social media platforms and the impact of the Financial War on Terrorism on the funding steams used by ISIL.