Anti-corruption evidence base
Anti-corruption evidence base – we will continue to strengthen our understanding of the corruption threat and of the effectiveness of interventions. In a context of constrained resources this will inform prioritisation and resourcing decisions.
This commitment does not focus on a thematic area, project or policy instrument. Corruption risks and threats are numerous and this commitment does not provide a clear focus on any of them. Neither does it provide a geographical boundary for this research. However, there might an advantage to a broad remit that leaves open opportunities to address such a multifaceted issue.
This commitment could also include monitoring the implementation of the Mobilising Data for Anti-Corruption (MoDAC) programme in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania to ensure that it strengthens collaboration between law enforcement, the private sector, civil society and media to improve the quality and use of data in corruption cases, as stated in activity 7.6. Similarly, as outlined in activity 7.10, it would also monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme, including work to explore the impact of beneficial ownership measures, new forms of commodity-based money laundering, trade and procurement
 UK National Crime Agency, National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime, 2019
The Fourth IACC commitment on strengthening the evidence base of anti-corruption is clearly discussed in the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy commitments from points 7.1 to 7.11.
After reviewing these points in the strategy, we have identified some measurable outputs and mechanisms to monitor the implementation of this commitment:
- Provide a clearer picture of domestic corruption in specific areas by working with experts to expand and improve the evidence base on corruption and its impact.
- Use behavioural science to understand what drives corruption.
- Review the corruption threat in relation to serious and organised crime as part of the annual NCA National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime.1
- Improve how corruption is reported in national crime statistics.2
- Launch a new initiative to provide a reporting mechanism for allegations of bribery and corruption.
- Work with four countries to implement a new “mobilising data for anti-corruption” programme,3 which will strengthen collaboration between law enforcement, private sector, civil society and the media to improve the quality and use of data in corruption cases.
- Partner with the IMF by providing funding for three years from 2017.
- Commission new research under the DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme,4 including work to explore the impact of beneficial ownership measures, new forms of commodity-based money laundering, and trade and procurement.
As well as commitments 7.65 and 7.10,6 both being delivered under the DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme,3 the following are the most recent government publications that can be used by the UK government to build an evidence base to better understand the corruption threat:
- the NCA’s National Strategic Assessment 2020,7 which includes details of corruption threats (undertaken through an internal annual corruption assessment)
- Office of National Statistics data on corruption reports and allegations8
- earlier in the 2020, the government published the MHCLG review of fraud and corruption risks in local government procurement9
- the government commissioned the Royal United Services Institute corruption report10
- Transparency International UK has also been informed that the UK government participated in the development of a G20 anti-corruption measurement work stream for the Italian presidency and supported the University of Sussex in its work on an academic roundtable with the Saudi G20 presidency
- Transparency international UK has also been asked to comment on the Economic Crime Business Survey, which will be published in early 2021
The government engages with international forums that review the UK’s arrangements for addressing corruption in politics and governance, including GRECO and UNCAC mutual evaluation processes. The government considers proposals from these evaluations, which can result in policy reviews. For example, in response to a recommendation from GRECO’s fifth evaluation review, the government has committed to undertaking post-legislative scrutiny of the register of consultants lobbying by the end of 2020.11 More broadly, it established a Defending Democracy in July 2019, which seeks to address concerns about foreign interference in domestic politics.12 However, we are awaiting evidence of how these have translated into tangible policy and legislative change.
In particular, the government does not appear to have applied the GRECO and UNCAC recommendations considering the independence and powers of the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests.13 14 Successive governments have also failed to implement their proposals on strengthening oversight of the revolving door between the public and private sectors.15 14 This inertia suggests that, despite substantive engagement at official level, ministers lack the political will to deliver on key reforms. As of the time of this review, the Anti-Corruption Strategy Update recorded many of these commitments – for example points 7.1 and 7.3 – as ongoing. Similarly, we know of research, such as the Economic Crime Business Survey, which remain unpublished, therefore we cannot say it is complete.
Challenges to effective commitment implementation
Despite numerous scandals in recent years, there is a reluctance from successive governments to assess the corruption risks within the UK political system. Instead of learning from recent cases and consulting on proposed reforms to reduce the risk of their reoccurrence, policy leadership has been ceded to the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) and, to an extent, the opposition and civil society organisations. Politically, even recognising there is a problem has proved difficult.
We sense securing cross-departmental input into a whole-of-government understanding of corruption has proved challenging for the JACU. It is not clear whether this is a result of this team moving from the Cabinet Office to the Home Office, or other competing priorities within government, but this is an obstacle to gaining a clear overview of the domestic threat.
Challenges to effective commitment implementation
There is a growing body of evidence produced by academia, the CSPL and civil society organisations about the domestic corruption threat, including political corruption. Similarly, these external stakeholders could deepen and widen the evidence already collected by government were these studies made publicly available.
We recommend that results of the government’s research to date are made public as soon as reasonably possible to help catalyse further research by stakeholders outside of government into the domestic corruption threat.
- Home Office, Counting Rules for Recorded Crime, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counting-rules-for-recorded-crime4 July 2013
- Development Tracker, Mobilising Data for Anti-Corruption (MoDAC), https://devtracker.fcdo.gov.uk/projects/GB-GOV-1-300291·
- ACE, Global Integrity Anti-Corruption Evidence (GI-ACE), https://ace.globalintegrity.org/·
- 7.6 – work with four countries to implement a new ‘Mobilising data for anti-corruption’ programme – which will strengthen collaboration between law enforcement, private sector, civil society and media to improve the quality and use of data in corruption cases.·
- 7.10 – commission new research under the DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme, including work to explore the impact of beneficial ownership measures, new forms of commodity-based money laundering, and trade and procurement.·
- NCA, National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2020, https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/nsa2020·
- ONS, Crime in England and Wales: Year Ending June 2020 table F9·
- Local Government Association, Review into the Risks of Fraud and Corruption in Local Government Procurement, https://www.local.gov.uk/review-risks-fraud-and-corruption-local-government-procurement·
- RUSI, What’s in a Name? Corruption and Fraud in the UK, https://rusi.org/publication/occasional-papers/whats-name-corruption-and-fraud-uk17 June 2019
- 24 July 2020
- Gov.UK, Update on Tackling Intimidation in Public Life, https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/update-on-tackling-intimidation-in-public-life5 November 2019
- GRECO, Fifth Evaluation Round: Evaluation Report: United Kingdom, p.33 paragraph 134 https://rm.coe.int/fifth-evaluation-round-preventing-corruption-and-promoting-integrity-i/168088ea4cMay 2018
- UNODC, Country Review Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Review Cycle II (Chapter II and V), p.15 paragraph 2.3November 2020
- GRECO, Fifth Evaluation Round: Evaluation Report: United Kingdom, p.30 paragraph 121 https://rm.coe.int/fifth-evaluation-round-preventing-corruption-and-promoting-integrity-i/168088ea4cMay 2018