CfSL research into integrity and anti-corruption in the UK informs Parliamentary debate, National Security policy and the Home Office’s strategy on organised crime

Submitting Institution

Teesside University

Unit of Assessment

Business and Management Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Political Science

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Summary of the impact

This case study centres on a body of work, comprising three projects commissioned by Transparency International UK (TI-UK), carried out by a research team at the Centre for Strategy & Leadership (CfSL). The research notably links specific sectors with institutions of organized crime and corruption. TI-UK has labelled this work: "the most comprehensive research ever undertaken in this area" ( and has influenced TI's five-year strategy and advocacy programme, informed Parliamentary debate and national security policy, and has had a major media impact given subsequent events such as the Leveson Inquiry.

Underpinning research

Following earlier world-class research in this area (e.g. Macaulay and Lawton, 2006a, b), the team came to the attention of TI-UK who commissioned the research discussed herein. The body of work underpinning the impact detailed in this case study takes the form of three research projects commissioned by TI-UK, which were undertaken by Macaulay (now: Victoria University Wellington, NZ), Scott who undertook quantitative analysis of the national opinion survey results (Macaulay and Scott, 2010); McCusker, who leads CfSL's fraud and financial crime agenda and who undertook analysis of organised crime (Macaulay et al, 2011), and others.

The first study was a national public opinion survey that extended the annual TI corruption perception index and was published in December 2010 (Macaulay and Scott, 2010). For this survey, Transparency International commissioned Gallup to poll a random sample of 2014 respondents in England, Scotland and Wales. The authors analysed the resulting data and determined, inter alia, a clear perception on the part of the respondents that corruption in UK had increased although conversely the majority claimed not to have ever been affected by corruption. The second study was an evaluation of the UK National Integrity System (NIS), and was one of 26 EU funded projects across Europe. The NIS study was the first of the 26 to be published in July 2011. For this study, the authors examined the principal institutions of governance through which integrity and the combating of corruption might be achieved and analysed a number of indicators by which the success or otherwise of those pillars might be determined. The authors collected data for each indicator through desk-based research and key informant interviews; where feasible, interviews were held with (1) a person employed within the respective institutions and (2) a person external to but expert upon the respective institutions. The third study was an assessment the corruption risks in key sectors in the UK (e.g. police, prisons, legal services), which addressed the areas not covered by the NIS study (Macaulay et al, 2011). The authors adopted a research strategy combining desk-based research with key respondent interviews and the net effect of that approach was the determination of a broad mapping of the state of corruption in the UK. These studies have led to an extension of the discussion to other areas of academic enquiry such as local integrity systems (Macaulay et al, 2013). Indeed, a study of effective standards committees was a series of 9 case studies looking for "notable practice" in local government standards committees throughout England, funded by Standards for England, and building on earlier underpinning research (Macaulay and Lawton, 2006a, b) which itself has influenced TI-UK in commissioning their subsequent studies by highlighting CfSL's research reputation and competence.

References to the research

Key Publications:

1. Macaulay, M. and Scott, J.M. (2010) `Corruption in the UK — part one: public opinion survey'. (London: Transparency International)

2. Macaulay, M. and Hickey, G (2011) Corruption in the UK: National Integrity System Study (London: Transparency international)

3. Macaulay, M., McCusker, R, Handley-Schachler, M., Hutchinson, F., Peters, J. and Wise, N. (2011) Corruption in the UK: survey of key areas (London: Transparency International)

4. Macaulay, M. and Lawton, A. (2006a) 'Changing the standards? Assessing the impact of the Committee for Standards in Public Life on local government in England', Parliamentary Affairs, 59 (3), pp.474-490.


5. Macaulay, M. and Lawton, A. (2006b) `From virtue to competence: Changing the principles of public service', Public Administration Review, 66, pp. 702-710.


6. Macaulay, M., Newman, C. and Hickey, G. (2013) `Towards a model of the Local Integrity System', International Journal of Public Administration (under review).

Evidence of Quality: Each piece of TI-UK research was peer reviewed by leading academics in the field of corruption including Alyson Warhurst (Warwick University); Indira Carr (Surrey University); Michael Levi (University of Cardiff) and John Hatchard (Open University). In addition, the NIS study was subjected to a validation workshop of over 40 leading academics and practitioners before its results were published. Each journal article underwent double-blind peer review and has been targeted specifically at prominent journals in the field including the world-leading Public Administration Review (4* on the ABS list).

Details of the impact

The TI-UK studies were commissioned based on the strength of prior underpinning research (Macaulay and Lawton, 2006a, b). Further, the impact of the underpinning research has several elements: there is the impact on policy and practice; on the media; and on further academic studies. First, the research has had a direct impact on Transparency International and TI-UK in particular, in terms of both its future strategy and also its future advocacy policy: To produce an advocacy plan; to hold 4 regional events; and to publish 4 policy papers as a foundation for advocacy. Indeed, TI stated:

"Since funding is available for these activities, we plan to use them as a focus of our advocacy activities until September 2012. In particular, the policy papers will present an opportunity to provide brief publications that outline TI-UK's views on specific subjects, building on the research already undertaken for the UK Corruption Report. Each paper will have one, or a small number, of very clear advocacy objectives — ie identifying what TI-UK is seeking to change."

"TI-UK cannot address all the problems identified in its UK Corruption Report. We therefore attempted to prioritise them and concluded that it would be desirable to give the highest priority to the issues set out below. Each issue will be the subject of a policy paper, to be published by the end of 2011. An advocacy plan is being developed for each issue, in part using the TI-S toolkit outlined in Annexes II and III, that will lay out what TI-UK needs to do to achieve the change(s) recommended in each policy paper. The 4 priority areas identified are:

  • Anti-corruption agency (and UK strategy to combat corruption at home and abroad);
  • Organised crime including within prisons;
  • Politics, including parliament, the executive and political parties; and
  • Media

"The Corruption in the UK Report contained 25 headline and research recommendations, plus several minor recommendations. It covered 23 separate institutions, themes and pillars, each of which is important in its own right. Of the four areas it picked out as most in need of urgent advocacy, only sport does not feature in our priority list." (TI-UK)

Interestingly, in terms of impact, it was notable that TI explored the research lacunae that the researchers had identified and commented on (whether that was in terms of the researchers observing a paucity of research or incomplete research). Thus, for example, TI has noted that future research needed to be broader in scope and imaginative in execution. By way of illustration, it argued for longitudinal analysis of the corruption issue which would by implication factor in changes within the public sector and should focus upon the police service, local government, the NHS and social housing as core targets and/or vectors for corruption. That analysis should automatically legislate for the inevitable impact upon the sector by issues caused or facilitated by lower resources input. More broadly, TI suggests that the research indicates a need to undertake a more systematic analysis of corruption in sport including some demarcation in terms of corruption typologies and impact within respective sporting institutions. TI also argues that research upon those sectors not ordinarily apparent in corruption analysis such as marginalised communities and/or those sectors not fully present in such analysis such as agriculture, private security and waste management, as well as comparative assessments of corruption typologies within the four countries of the UK and within regions of each country, should be undertaken.

In terms of broader policy and practice, the research elicited a personal response from the Prime Minister David Cameron [1] and has led to a number of questions being raised in Parliament [2], particularly regarding corruption in prisons and the recent restructuring of HM Prison's Corruption Prevention Unit [3].

The research has also been cited and used in the Home Office's most recent strategy on Organised Crime [4], which noted that:

"A recent report by Transparency International highlighted the need for more action to understand and combat the growing threat of corruption in key sections of the UK.21 Many public and private sector organisations, including all law enforcement agencies, have guidelines guarding against staff corruption. SOCA offers help and advice on public sector corruption in relation to organised crime, although we do not yet know the full extent of the problem. SOCA will carry out an assessment of the extent of corruption by organised criminals in the public and private sectors and recommend ways for addressing it."

Although relatively recently published, the research has already made an impact in academic circles and is cited extensively in Nicholls et al's (2011) second edition of Corruption and Misconduct in Public Office [5]. The work has also received major media coverage including BBC television, The Guardian, The Telegraph and the Wall Street Journal and has been the subject of a commentary in the Guardian [6]. Building on this work, Macaulay was invited to advise TI New Zealand's National Integrity Study; has been involved in creating TI-UK's Anti-Corruption Defence Digest; was appointed as an advisor on TI-UK's new study of local government; as a contributor to the latest Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) inquiry. In addition, the standards committee research has impacted various councils across the UK; for example, Walsall Council has "noted" and taken into consideration the study [7], as have a number of other councils in all parts of England, including Epsom & Ewell [8], Sefton [9] and Macaulay's former home council and one of CfSL's local stakeholders Redcar & Cleveland [10].

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. The PM's letter has been published on TI-UK's website
  2. Hansard
  3. Hansard
  4. Home Office (2011) Local to Global: Reducing Risk from Organised Crime (London: TSO)
  5. Nicholls, C. Daniel, T. Bacarese, A. and Hatchard, J (2011), Corruption and Misconduct in Public Office2nd edition(Oxford: OUP)
  7. Walsall Council Standards Committee
  8. Epsom & Ewell Council
  9. Sefton Council
  10. Redcar & Cleveland Council$File/Standards%2002.03.10.pdf