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Florence Nightingale Lecture and Panel Session – Friday 4th March 2022

04 Mar 22

3.00 pm      Florence Nightingale Lecture

This event is kindly being hosted by the ICMS and will take place on Zoom.  Please register for this event using the web form at the bottom of the page.

Speaker:     Professor Sir Bernard Silverman FRS, Professor of Modern Slavery Statistics, University of Nottingham and Emeritus Professor of Statistics, University of Oxford.

Title:            Statistics and the fight against modern slavery

Abstract:    Modern slavery takes many forms and has only in recent decades come to wide public and political consciousness.  The Modern Slavery Act 2015 consolidated a number of relevant offences, and introduced a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.  The numbers of victims known to the authorities, and of prosecutions, have considerably increased in recent years,  but modern slavery persists, both in the UK and worldwide.

A number of different statistical approaches have been used in the fight against modern slavery and other hidden crimes.  I will survey and explore some of these, and consider their role leading up to the Modern Slavery Act and in subsequent developments.

Overall I hope that the lecture will provide the opportunity to reflect more widely on what is the best appropriate statistical contribution to what is an important and disturbing aspect of public policy.  In particular there are broader questions about presenting statistical evidence in an area where there is so much uncertainty.  Should we follow George Box’s dictum that “all models are wrong, but some are useful”?  There are some (imperfect) analogies with Florence Nightingale’s own work and campaign leading to the Public Health Act 1875, which saved the lives of millions.


Bio:  Bernard Silverman’s research has ranged widely across theoretical and practical aspects of statistics. The focus has been on computational statistics, researching the ways that computing power has changed our ability to collect, analyse, understand and utilise data. 

He has collaborated in many fields across academia, industry and government.  After an academic career at Bath, Bristol and Oxford, he spent seven years as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office.

He now has a part-time appointment as Professor of Modern Slavery Statistics at the University of Nottingham, and is Chair of the Geospatial Commission and of the Methodological Assurance Panel for the Census.



4.00 pm   Short Break

4.15 pm    Panel Session with:

Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

Professor Todd Landman FRSA, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Political Science at the University of Nottingham Dr Davina Durgana,Walk Free


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The Florence Nightingale Lecture Series is generously sponsored by XTX Markets.

For details of previous Florence Nightingale Lectures please see here.