Introducing the Neurodivergence in Criminal Justice Network (NICJN)

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written by Tom Smith

The Neurodivergence in Criminal Justice Network (NICJN) is a research and knowledge exchange group, created and jointly co-ordinated  by Dr Tom Smith (Associate Professor in Law). Founded in 2021, the NICJN is primarily focused on promoting an evidence-led approach to the challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals in criminal justice systems. Tom is supported by Joint Co-ordinator Dr Nicole Renehan (Durham University); an Advisory Group, consisting of network members; and a Lived Experience Group (consisting of members with direct experience of neurodivergence and criminal justice).

‘Neurodivergent’ commonly describes cognitive and neurological development which is different or atypical. This relates primarily to communication, learning, attention, sensory processing, and mood regulation. Forms of neurodivergence include Autism, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and dyslexia, among numerous others in this expanding category. Individuals drawn into the criminal justice system (CJS) – as suspects, defendants, victims or witnesses – generally face significant challenges due to the stressful, complex and specialised nature of criminal proceedings. The environment and routines of criminal justice settings – including police stations, courts and prisons – can be isolating, confusing and traumatic. These challenges are acute for vulnerable persons generally, including those with physical and mental health issues (see, for example, the conclusions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2020).

However, engagement with criminal proceedings and the institutions and figures involved (such as lawyers and police officers) can be particularly challenging for neurodivergent individuals, due to the nature of neurodivergence and the manner in which criminal justice generally operates (for example, the emphasis placed on personal interaction). Evidence suggests that not only is neurodivergence prevalent within criminal justice (a recent estimate suggests half of prisoners are neurodivergent), but that significant barriers to a positive and effective experience remain at all stages.

Since 2020, there has been a significant increase in interest and attention paid to these issues. As part of this, the NICJN brings together key voices in the area, including researchers (from varied disciplines including forensic science, psychology, and law); clinical and legal practice; and community members who are neurodivergent (or have a personal connection to neurodivergent individuals) and have been involved in criminal proceedings, and are therefore experts by experience. There are currently more than 150 members of the network from across the UK and internationally.

A key aspect of the NICJN is facilitating communication between different but related communities by providing a platform for sharing their work, interests, activities and voice. It aims to act as a ‘switchboard’, connecting interested people to a single ‘hub’ for knowledge and expertise. For example, the NICJN resource collection is a ‘one stop shop’ for literature, information, and specialist knowledge on this area, with the goal that the collection will enable anyone to easily locate useful information and specialist insight on neurodivergence and criminal justice.

In the long-term, the NICJN aims to be part of a drive to embed research evidence into everyday criminal justice practice; to raise awareness and understanding of the issues in this area; to promote reform by pursuing positive changes through exchange within and beyond the network; and advance knowledge through collaborative publication, presentation, evidence-gathering and funded research.

Since its creation the network has been active in a variety of ways. The network was launched in July 2021, with a themed conference focusing on Autism in Criminal Justice. It included presentations by a range of experts on autism and policing, courts, and prisons; and the accounts of individuals with lived experience. The network sends out regular updates to members on developments in the field, including new publications; events; funding opportunities; and calls for participants in research studies. The network recently contributed to a lecture for criminal barristers on neurodivergence in criminal proceedings. The network is currently involved in the early stages of two projects – one working with a Government-sponsored criminal justice agency in developing its neurodivergence strategy; and the other working with a criminal justice NGO looking to develop a better approach to screening for neurodivergence in the criminal justice system.

The last few years have been exciting for the network – it has grown quickly, and forms part of a broad chorus of voices calling for a new approach to criminal justice in this context – to which institutions are responding. As a research and knowledge-exchange group focused on impact in the real world, this represents a ‘golden moment’ to genuinely re-shape public policy and professional practice for good, with the potential for a major positive impact on the health and wellbeing of neurodivergent people.

To find out more about the NICJN, please visit the website; get in touch on Twitter (@nicj_network); or via email to the generic network account or Tom and Nicole.

Applications open for Partnership PhD scheme

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UWE Bristol has recently announced another application round of its successful Partnership PhD programme.

A Partnership PhD bridges the gap between external organisations and university. It enables an organisation to gain access to cutting-edge real-world research that can help transform it.

The Partnership establishes a relationship between an organisation and UWE Bristol, based on a specific project that is mutually beneficial.

Organisations have the opportunity to choose a relevant research area and gain access to cutting-edge research. The researcher will work extensively with the organisation to provide a tailored piece of research.

In turn, the researcher will gain an opportunity to pursue their research in a real-world setting, developing transferable and interdisciplinary skills whilst gaining cross-sector experience.

Over the past two years, the Graduate School, part of the Research, Business and Innovation team at UWE Bristol, has been developing the Partnership PhD scheme. Through it, UWE’s investment in Post Graduate Research has been matched by over £1.5m from 40+ partner organisations.

Application deadline 1 July 2022 for Partnership PhD’s starting in 1 January 2023.

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

Please find below full Partnership PhD guidance, costings, useful information and the flyer for businesses:

See below for our slides for businesses:

Email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk to find out more.

Academic Spotlight – Professor Wendy Phillips

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I have a multi-disciplinary background in science and management and I have spent over 20 years advancing the disciplines of innovation studies and supply chain management. Although my first degree was in Biological Sciences, I discovered I was more interested in the management of science, technology and innovation and I went on to undertake an MSc in Science and Industrial Strategy at the Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology at the University of Manchester. Following my MSc, I was awarded an ESCRC Case PhD Studentship to investigate the impact of environmental regulation on the Technology Strategy of Pilkington, the glass manufacturer.

Whilst studying for my PhD, I worked at the ESRC Centre for Innovation and Competition at the University of Manchester and upon completion I worked at the Centre for Research in Strategic Purchasing and Supply (CRiSPS) at the University of Bath School of Management before moving to UWE. My research impacts policy and practice in procurement in complex public sector supply networks such as the NHS, the Welsh NHS, and UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

I am particularly interested in how innovation and technological developments in advanced manufacturing in healthcare can contribute towards a shift away from traditional, centralised models of manufacturing towards redistributed manufacturing (RDM) in local production, supporting more resilient and sustainable supply chains.
My research includes leading and contributing to the following:

  • EPSRC funded Redistributed Manufacturing in Healthcare Network (RiHN – www.RiHN.org.uk), with the universities of Imperial, Kings College London, Sussex, Brunel, Cambridge, Loughborough, Herriot Watt, Nottingham and Newcastle to map the research landscape for redistributed manufacturing (RDM) in healthcare
  • Healthcare Industries Task Force (HITF) which brought together industry and government leaders together to develop a plan of action to stimulate science and industry in the UK
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funded project looking at the transformation of procurement and strategic sourcing decisions in the UK’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
  • Research collaboration between the University of the West of England, Cardiff University, University of Bath, and University of Bristol evaluating the value of the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN)
    -EPSRC and ESRC funded research projects looking at innovation in supply networks

I have experience of leading large-scale collaborative projects including managing and contributing to projects totalling more than £7M funded by EPSRC, ESRC, HEFCE, NHS, DTI, MoD and local government. I was involved in the Healthcare Industries Task Force, which brought together industry and government leaders together to develop a plan of action to stimulate science and industry in the UK; and an HEI consortium which evaluated the value of the West of England Academic Health Science Network, focusing on the role of innovative supply networks.

Find out more and connect with Professor Phillips on LinkedIn

Academic Spotlight: Professor Nic Ryder

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Nic Ryder is Professor in Financial Crime and member of the Global Crime, Justice and Security Research Group at UWE Bristol.

Nic has over 20 years experience in Higher Education and enjoys delivering research-led teaching, using his research findings as the foundation for his teaching at all levels. As well as this he contributes to the knowledge that exists on financial crime through his published research and and income generating partnerships. His research area interests are financial crime with a particular focus on terrorism financing, fraud, money laundering, corporate financial crime, cryptoassets and cyber security.

With an international reputation for excellence in policy-oriented research in financial crime, Nic has played advisory roles both nationally (Home Office, Law Commission, the Nationwide) and internationally (NATO, United Nations, CEPOL, EUROPOL, EUROMED Police, the Dutch Police, the France Telecom Group and the Law Reform Commission of Ireland).  His research has attracted funding (£1.6m) from Innovate UK, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), LexisNexis Risk Solutions, the City of London Police Force, the Royal United Services Limited, ICT Wilmington Risk & Compliance, the France Telecom Group and the European Social Fund.

Nic’s academic expertise could be practically applied for a business partner because of his expertise in financial crime, its related compliance and regulation which would be of interest to the 55,000 members of the regulated sector who are obliged to comply with the reporting obligations of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, the Terrorism Act 2000 and the Bribery Act 2010.

View Nic Ryders LinkedIn Profile

UWE Bristol Academic Spotlight: Professor Jona Razzaque

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Jona Razzaque, is a Professor of Environmental Law at UWE Bristol, a barrister and holds a PhD in law from the University of London. Prior to joining UWE Bristol, she worked as a staff lawyer with the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) and Environmental Law Foundation (ELF). She previously taught at the University College London, School of Oriental and African Studies and Queen Mary University of London. She has held visiting fellowships at Wuhan University, China. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of Environmental Law and serves as a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.

Jona Razzaque’s research can be divided into four interconnected strands:

First, it extensively focuses on the global North-South divide that impedes the effectiveness of international environmental law. Her co-edited collection on International Environmental Law and the Global South examines both the historical origins of the North-South divide in European colonialism as well as its contemporary manifestations in a range of issues, including food justice, energy justice, indigenous rights, investment, extractive industries, human rights, land grabs, hazardous waste, and climate change. In addition, her research on environmental governance in Europe and Asia, toxic waste trade and access to remedies emphasises global inequality and the priorities and concerns of the global South.

Second, she has published extensively on the link between human rights and the environment, especially on the right to a healthy environment. Her focus is on participatory environmental rights dealing with access to environmental justice, environmental litigation,  public interest environmental litigation, public participation in environmental matters, free, prior informed consent, procedural environmental rights, public participation in water governance and participatory rights in natural resource management. Her research contributed to the UN Environment Programme and UNITAR initiatives on the link between human right and the environment.

Third, her work on biodiversity conservation focuses on ecosystem services and human well-being, transformative governance for biodiversity, nature protection law, environmental impact assessment, ancient woodlands, mangrove forest management, corporate responsibility and environmental harm, traditional knowledge, and rights of indigenous peoples. Her research resulted in her acting as a Coordinating Lead Author of the UN Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, 2019) and she co-authored a high-impact paper on biodiversity conservation and transformative change (Science, 2019). She also acted as a consultant in the UN Environment Programme’s Expert Forum on Ecosystem Services and Human Well-being and contributed to projects on biodiversity conservation law funded by the UN Development Programme, DEFRA (UK) and Wuhan University (China).

Fourth, her work on the sustainable investment in natural resource sectors is strongly influenced by power imbalances that inform North–South cooperation, as well as South–South cooperation in the international investment regime. Her research focuses on investment and sustainability, resource sovereignty, commodification of water, renewable energy and agriculture. Her outputs contributed to the United Nations consultation on human rights and transnational corporations.

Business/sector interests:

Her work on the link between business, human rights and the environment highlights the legal framework applicable to transnational companies. She worked extensively with the United Nations Environment Programme as an expert on ‘Human Rights and the Environment’ and ‘Ecosystem Services and Human Well-being’ and acted as a consultant on participatory environmental rights.  Her research outputs on Business, Human Rights and the Environment resulted in her acting as an expert under the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG), Professor John Ruggie,  on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises. In this function, she explored the role and limits of extraterritoriality in the business and human rights domain. She also acted as an expert to the European Commission funded project on the legal framework on human rights and the environment applicable to European enterprises operating outside the EU.

In addition, her work with global policy makers underscores the need to integrate biodiversity considerations in global decision making, whether it is on water, agriculture, infrastructure or business, and encourage alternative business models. For instance, she acted as a Contributing Lead Author of chapter 6: Options for decision makers of the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019) initiated by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The Summary for Policy Makers confirms that the sustainable use of nature will be vital to adapt and mitigate climate change, as well as to achieve many of our most important development goals.

Academic expertise/practically applied for a business partner

Her work on business, human rights and environment is relevant to the business sector as it examines the governance gaps with particular attention to the victims of corporate‐related human rights abuse, the weak regulatory regime of many host governments, companies that may face operational disruptions or lawsuits, and the home country whose own reputation may be at stake.

Her work on biodiversity conservation acknowledges that achieving a sustainable economy will require fundamental reforms to economic and financial systems. Her work with IPBES identifies a range of options and tools available to the business sector to improve the sustainability of economic and financial systems.

Her research on natural resources law, investment and sustainability offers aconcise insight into the relationship between the institutions that govern foreign investment, sustainable development and the rules and regulations that administer natural resources. Her focus is on various legal options to promote transparency, good governance and citizen empowerment which encourage positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for all stakeholders including the business sector.

For further information about Professor Jona Razzaque click here

UWE Bristol Inspire Workshop Series – New for 2022

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UWE Bristol has developed a series of inspiring workshops for individuals, teams and organisations. Delivered through a blend of peer-to-peer learning and interactive sessions attendees will learn proactive practical skills and tools to enhance their professional and personal impact.

Each workshop is interactive and reflective, with live practice sessions to explore and apply learning within a supportive community of practice. All workshops are delivered fully online through our learning platform which puts you in contact with your tutor and fellow students and there are no formal entry requirements.

Find out more about the courses below:

UWE Bristol Inspire Workshop Series: Power of Good Meetings

Understanding the importance and power of good meetings is the same as investing in the success of any business or vocation. Whether you are hosting, chairing, facilitating or participating in meetings, there are a number of vital things to be aware of and actively support in order to ensure that the organisation, its members, beneficiaries and stakeholders benefit from the power of meetings.

In this interactive workshop, we will be exploring the common pitfalls and landmines in meetings as well as developing tools for good practice towards actual mastery. The workshop is designed for anyone who has ever sat in a meeting and who wishes to become a great host, chair, facilitator or participant.

UWE Bristol Inspire Workshop Series: The Practice of Attention in a World of Distraction

This workshop is about how we attend, what we attend to, and the stories we tell about it. If you feel exhausted by the ever-increasing wealth of competing demands for your attention, you are not alone. At every turn our attention is subject to capture and most of the time, leaders and managers feel unable to freely give attention to the kinds of activities they consider most important.

The workshop is designed for leaders, managers and others wanting to explore the impact of the Attention Economy and how to address the emerging issues. Gain a set of practical tools that can be used by leaders, managers and all others involved in an organisation or context. Methodologies and content are particularly designed to make good use of a diverse group, so we welcome people in a range of different roles.

UWE Bristol Inspire Workshop Series: Trust and Collaboration

Now more than ever, leaders and managers are required to create, develop and support individuals and teams in a range of online environments. However, when we encounter each other in a physical environment, there are a range of nuances, sub-conscious signals and observations that help us establish trust and build collaborative relationships. The more we can be aware of what is gained and lost in the virtual environment, the better our leadership and management will be.

In this interactive workshop, we will explore how to create ways of working together in a virtual environment that develops trust and supports collaboration. We will explore the dynamics in both existing and new teams and learn how to include new members in a way that supports everyone.
Onboarding a new member of staff exclusively online is a challenge that many leaders and managers have had to face in the last year and there are many lessons learnt in the process that we will investigate and develop further together.

UWE Bristol Inspire Workshop Series: Effective Tools for Habits That Work for You

Recent events have highlighted how important effective routines and habits are in supporting us through challenging times. Adapting to working from home, social distancing, balancing work and personal commitments, career changes, getting fit, wellbeing, being resilient, and the list goes on!

This is for anyone that recognises they need to develop effective habits and practices in order to make changes in their lives, professionally and/or personally. The tools that we’ll use are not specific to an industry or management level but useful and effective for all. We bring the tools for designing habits, you will bring your goals, vision, or desired outcomes!

UWE Bristol Inspire Workshop Series: Planning and Delivering Virtual Events Successfully

The recent disruption that the coronavirus has caused has required organisations to quickly transition to running events of all shapes and sizes online rather than in the traditional in-person format. While there will continue to be a place for full in-person events in the future, the flexibility and reach of delivering events virtually are such that organisations will continue to harness online technology and delivery of events as part of a successful engagement strategy.

Designed to stimulate, inspire, and engage, this two-day interactive workshop will provide an opportunity for you to not only learn the fundamentals of designing and running a virtual event but also how to ensure success and the creation of a lasting legacy. The workshop is designed for individuals and SMEs who are currently running or looking to run, events in a virtual or hybrid format.

Click here for more information about all of UWE Bristol’s Professional Development Courses.  


Eliminating Uncertainties and Improving Productivity in Mega Projects using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

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A series of projects at the Bristol Business School combining cutting-edge digital technologies could potentially revolutionise the way industry tackles management of Mega Projects at the bidding stage. These innovative technologies include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Professor Lukumon Oyedele and his team of developers have created software that harnesses the power of big data and artificial intelligence to help companies accurately plan and execute Mega Projects (large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost hundreds of millions of pounds).

The software uses advanced analytics to predict a whole range of complex project parameters such as three-points estimates, tender summaries, cash flow, project plans, risks, innovations, opportunities, as well as health and safety incidents.

The project, whose flagship simulation tool is called Big-Data-BIM, is part of a partnership with leading UK construction contractor Balfour Beatty, to help it plan better power infrastructure projects involving the construction of overhead lines, substations and underground cabling. By using the software, the company is able to improve productivity and maximise profit margins.

“When planning a tender for a project, companies often plan for a profit of 10 to 15 percent, but on finishing the project, many struggle to make two percent profit margin,” says Professor Oyedele, who is Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Chair Professor of Enterprise and Project Management.

“The reason is that there are many unseen activities, which are hard to capture during the early design stage. Besides, the design process itself is non-deterministic. This is why when you ask two quantity surveyors how much a project is likely to cost; they often produce different figures.

“With Big-Data-BIM, we are bringing in objectivity to plan the projects and taking care of uncertainties by engaging advanced digital technologies, so that a tender estimate remains accurate until project completion, with minimal deviation from what was planned at the beginning.”

The tool taps into 20 years of Balfour Beatty’s data on power infrastructure projects and learns predictive models that inform the most optimal decisions for executing the given work. The tool informs the business development team at the beginning of the project whether it is likely to succeed or fail.

One of the functions of the software is to create a 3D visual representation of project routes to understand complexity, associated risks (like road and river crossings) and opportunities (such as shared yards and local suppliers). For this purpose, the software taps into Google Maps data and integrates data from the British Geological Survey and Ordnance Survey to discover automatically the number of roads, rivers, and rail crossings.

The tool performs extensive geospatial analysis to find out the optimal construction route and measure distances between route elements with a high degree of accuracy. “This all happens within a twinkle of an eye. Without leaving your office, you can determine the obstacles on the planned route of the cables, or whether there is a river in the way,” says Professor Oyedele.

By mining the huge datasets of health and safety incidents, the software can also determine what kind of injuries might occur on a project, and even produce a detailed analysis of the most probable body parts that could be prone to injury. This can help prepare an accurate health and safety risk assessment before the work begins.

The software provides an intuitive dashboard called “Opportunity on a page” where all predictions are visualised to facilitate data-driven insights for designers to make critical planning decisions.

As a contractor, Balfour Beatty uses the tool to enable it to submit the best bids to clients so that it can have a high chance of winning them. The software is also set to be provided for other industries carrying out linear projects. These are to include water distribution networks, and the rail, roads, as well as oil and gas sectors.

 

Helping to improve malaria health care in southern Africa

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Featured Researcher: Professor Peter Case

Work conducted by a Bristol Business School Professor on organisational systems in malaria zones has had a significant impact on international efforts to eradicate the disease.  Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Malaria Elimination Initiative, Professor Peter Case’s work has introduced a new approach to tackling malaria in Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

Every year some half a million people die from the disease, which still exists in nearly 100 countries. Humans bitten by infected mosquitoes carrying the parasite can experience high fevers, chills, and other severe symptoms.

Although many NGOs distribute treated mosquito nets, or supply anti-malaria tablets to high-risk communities, human and organisational factors are often overlooked, says the academic.

“A vaccine or technology used as a solution is often seen as a silver bullet and is vital. But I believe this makes up only five percent of what can be done – the remaining 95% comes down to dealing with the flaws, difficulties, idiosyncrasies and foibles of human organisational systems,” he says.

Professor Case’s work, in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), provides methods to identify, analyse, and resolve context-specific challenges. Through a series of workshops taking place in the country where malaria poses a threat, members of staff (from the most junior front-line staff to the most senior medics and administrators) are able to meet in the same space and communicate the challenges they face when tackling malaria.

Together, they can then generate collective solutions and trace necessary changes that need to be made within the delivery system to improve prevention and treatment.

“While all the workshop participants play a crucial role in the process, hands-on expertise lies at the front line, because these are the people who see others with the disease day in day out, or who go in to spray homesteads,” says Professor Case.

Past examples of challenges these workers have experienced include instances when villagers who are issued with mosquito nets are later seen using them for fishing. In another African village, witnesses have noted that people who develop malaria symptoms sometimes seek non-medical care from traditional healers rather than go to a clinic.

Professor Case and colleague Dr Mberikunashe in Zimbabwe

This exercise of generating a list of shared challenges leads to a practical work plan with a dedicated group of people who take responsibility for implementing solutions. It has helped instil self-confidence and assertiveness within individuals who work on the front line, helping staff to realise that they can rely on themselves and colleagues to problem solve.

Professor Case’s work has had significant impact in southern Africa. Implementing this methodology across Swaziland has led to improvement in the reporting of malaria cases by health facilities and increased collaboration between the malaria program, schools, and community organisations. It has also led to improved communication between leaders within the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP).

In Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland South, Case’s system of structured organizational development has led to improvement in the availability and use of malaria registers by health facilities, a decrease in stock-outs of key malaria treatment drugs, and an increase in malaria case investigation rate within three days.

To ensure the project remains sustainable, Bristol Business School has begun training six medical staff at all levels of seniority in Zimbabwe via a PG Cert in Leadership and Professional Practice, which they are undertaking through distance learning.

These initial trainees will be assisting with similar process improvement initiatives in other malaria-prone countries in southern Africa, beginning in 2018 with Namibia.

Featured researcher: Professor Peter Case

Peter’s research encompasses organization development, international development, rural development, global health, leadership studies and organization theory.

Email: Peter.Case@uwe.ac.uk Phone: +4411732 81709

UK’s complex tax code and complacency leads to more tax avoidance – UWE Professor

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Nicholas Ryder, who is a Professor in Financial Crime at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) says the UK authorities’ ‘lacklustre’ approach to enforcing its financial crime provisions, and a highly complex tax code, has played a significant role in enabling individuals to avoid or evade tax.  Tax evasion expert Sam Bourton (who is an Associate Lecturer in Law at UWE Bristol), agrees that such complexity means a lot of money is siphoned from the City of London.

Once again documents revealing the tax activities of some of the rich and powerful have come to light in the media, after a whistleblower leaked 6.8m documents relating to Appleby, a firm that helps companies set up shop in low-tax jurisdictions. These ‘Paradise Papers’ (so-called because many tax havens are located on paradise-like islands) have led to a media storm, decrying the likes of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Apple because of their links to tax avoidance schemes through the firm. Tax avoidance involves by-passing payment of tax legally using loopholes to your advantage, while tax evasion means illegally evading paying tax.

“These schemes might not be a criminal offence per se,” says Ryder, “but ethically speaking, is it right for a multibillion pound company to be avoiding tax, when that money could go to funding a new hospital or a school?”

Ryder explains that a lot of jurisdictions, including the UK, have a flexible taxation system, as this can lead to more investment. It also possesses a highly complex tax code, which is one of the longest in the world. “You could argue that tax avoidance has been indirectly encouraged by government because it has such a complex legal framework that allows people to use loopholes,” says Ryder. “This also means that it’s often difficult to identify whether a business transaction constitutes tax avoidance or tax evasion,” he adds.

Bourton agrees, saying that there is often a connection between many of UK’s overseas territories (like the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands) and London, and this benefits the City. “Often tax advisers set up structures offshore that interact with accounts in London,” says Bourton. She points out that, looking at the data from the Paradise Papers, the UK features towards the top of the list when you look at individuals and companies implicated in tax avoidance.

Both Bourton and Ryder agree that more transparency in tax transactions is needed. “I am concerned about the secrecy that still exists around these tax cases,” says Ryder, commenting on the Paradise Papers. “How do we know that organised criminal gangs are not using these offshore financial centres to hide their proceeds of crime? If they are doing this, they are in effect money laundering, and that’s where they could be prosecuted,” he adds. In this respect, he believes that the UK adopts what he calls a “lacklustre” approach to enforcing its financial crime provisions.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has drawn up and is still developing a set of guidelines to ensure transparency and exchange of information where tax is involved.  But although most jurisdictions have signed up to the OECD standards, implementing them is likely to take several years to complete.

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