Fraud, white-collar and organised crime

Our work analyses the nature, organisation and governance of serious crimes for gain. Such as corruption, financial and economic crimes, cyber-crimes, and human trafficking and modern slavery.

With expertise in digital technology and crime, we utilise a mixture of research methodologies and specialist approaches to make sense of qualitative and quantitative data, such as:

  • narrative;
  • social network and crime script analysis;
  • advanced statistics.

Research projects 

In pursuit of food system integrity

October 2019 - March 2020

Funder: ESRC

Principal Investigator: Nick Lord

ScriptNet is a software package that facilitates an analysis of the organisational aspects of criminal enterprise together with an analysis of the network of people, organisations, places and resources that are in some way involved in the commissioning of these goal-oriented crimes.

More specifically, the software is geared towards those interested in analysing varied food crimes (eg food fraud, counterfeit alcohol) that are of an entrepreneurial nature, that is, they reflect on-going criminal activities involving multiple people in order to generate financial gain.

The software was developed in collaboration with a non-academic partner, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

The tool can be used by a variety of groups - including law enforcement authorities, non-governmental organisations, academic and social researchers, and many more - to visualise the connections between the different stages of pre-planned criminal behaviours and the people or organisations who play different roles, in different places, using different resources to accomplish specified criminal goals. 

Digital Trust and Security

Our researchers are contributing to new interdisciplinary research taking place across the University.

The Digital Futures network aims to present a coherent overview of our digital research activity to external stakeholders and bring together our research communities to explore new research areas and address strategic opportunities.

We are leading on the Digital Trust and Security theme, encompassing the security and resilience of the underlying technology, work practices and processes, law and regulation, human behaviour, social norms and context.

We also consider regulation, governance and standards and more traditional security concerns, such as cryptography, access control and verification, whilst taking into account the societal and sociological concerns that emerge from  big-data analytics, intrusion, cloud computing and the internet. 

Perpetrators of modern slavery offences

Perpetrators of modern slavery offences: motivations, networks and backgrounds (April 2018 - October 2021)

Funder: ESRC

Researchers: Rose Broad, David Gadd, Elisa Bellotti, Carly Lightowlers.

The problem of modern slavery is of global political concern. Policy development has nevertheless raced ahead of research on the subject, of which there is a genuine lack.

International bodies and governments have tried – not always successfully – to produce estimates of the scale of the problem, and there are now a handful of studies documenting the plight of those trafficked.

However, few studies have been undertaken with those regarded as the perpetrators of modern slavery offences.

The aim of this project is to produce an understanding of the problem of modern slavery informed by first-hand interviews with those convicted for these offences. It will use arrest and conviction data to profile perpetrators together with in-depth interviews with those convicted under the UK 2015 Modern Slavery Act to explore how and why some people traffic others, what circumstances and social networks have contributed to their offending, as well as what has impeded it. 

Mapping the contours of human trafficking

Funder: N8 Policing Partnership

Principal Investigator: David Gadd and Rose Broad

Project aim: The main aim of the collaboration is to establish a profile of human trafficking incidents and offences known to GMP since the implementation of the Modern Slavery Coordination Unit (MSCU) in March 2015.

Greater Manchester Police has been collating a database of such incidents and offences since this time.

The database includes details of over 250 cases, including those that were reported to the National Referral Mechanism, and those that were reported to or detected by the police.

Through an analysis of the complete dataset, the project will produce a problem profile that will capture the characteristics of the suspected offenders and victims, including but not limited to age, gender, ethnicity and nationality.

Distribution and consumption of counterfeit alcohol: Getting to grips with fake booze

Funder: Alcohol Research UK

Principal Investigators: Jon Spencer, Nicholas Lord

Project Aim: The aim of this Alcohol Research UK funded project is to develop a greater and more detailed understanding of the distribution mechanisms associated with counterfeit alcohol. The distribution of counterfeit alcohol requires a high level of organisation and a developed network of actors to ensure market penetration. The discipline of criminology brings a particular approach to the understanding the organisation of this crime and provides more detailed insights into how the networks of distribution operate.

Global white-collar crime survey: Anti-bribery and corruption

Funder: White & Case LLP

Principal Investigators: Nicholas Lord, Aleksandra Jordanoska and Katie Benson

This White & Case LLP funded project will involve undertaking a global anti-bribery and corruption survey with multi-national businesses operating across a variety of sectors and jurisdictions. The purpose of the survey is to develop understandings of how global businesses are responding to the creation of international and domestic anti-bribery laws and standards. This will involve researching the interactions of business with regulators and gaining insights into organisational cultures and ways of operating that may be facilitative of corruption. In addition to the survey, the research will also involve qualitative interviews with key actors representing various strategic and operational levels of the sampled businesses.

The (mis)use of corporate vehicles by transnational organised crime groups

Funder: ESRC

Principal Investigator: Nicholas Lord

Project Aim: This ESRC funded research will, through a criminological and socio-legal lens, critically review the evidence base and the ‘state of the art’ literature, and undertake empirical research to improve our understanding of how, why and under which conditions organised crime groups (OCGs) use corporate vehicles for the concealment, conversion and control of illicit finance. OCGs make money through varied activities (e.g. trafficking, drugs, cyber-frauds, counterfeiting, etc.) and have evolved to make use of licit corporate structures to conceal their illicit finance.

Find out more

News and highlights

COVID-19 has seen an increased vulnerability to cyber crime. In this blog, Professor Emma Barrett, Professor Danny Dresner, and Dr David Buil-Gil outline why victims of cyber crime need greater protection, including a raft of ‘CPR’ measures designed to help them recover quickly. 

David Gadd and Rose Broad highlight how modern slavery and immigration law have become intertwined, whilst acknowledging that referring to perpetrators as evil can idealise victims in ways that can be detrimental.  

A new report has found that corruption in the UK is being overlooked, despite the risk of corruption being fuelled by self-regulation, conflicts of interest and austerity. 

Leading research into modern slavery has won two University of Manchester academics the prestigious Radzinowicz Prize for their contribution to the field of criminology.