Nick Iliffe, Stats Perform’s Integrity Intelligence Manager gives insight into the importance of intelligence, monitoring and technology in the daily work of Perform’s Integrity Unit.
Describe your role in Stats Perform’s integrity team.
I am the Integrity Intelligence Manager as part of Stats Perform’s Integrity Operations. This involves managing the collection and processing of integrity related intelligence and then directing the completion of products and analysis from this intelligence, for both internal and external customers. At its most basic, intelligence is information that has been assessed and evaluated. Due to the nature of our business at Stats Perform we collect huge amounts of information, so the challenge for an Intelligence Manager is how to make sense and derive meaning from this information.
What prior experiences led you to becoming an intelligence manager at Stats Perform?
I have a background of twelve years in Intelligence and Investigations. I started my career at the Metropolitan Police working first as a local Borough Intelligence Analyst and then onto the Counter Terrorism Command in London, UK. I then spent two years working in Trinidad & Tobago for a Law Enforcement Agency focusing on trans-national drug trafficking and homicide. When that posting came to an end, I joined UK Anti-Doping as their Intelligence Coordinator which was my entry into the sports integrity world. I decided I wanted to move from the niche area of anti-doping into the wider sports integrity area and joined Stats Perform in November 2016. My current role is ideal in enabling me to combine my expertise in intelligence and investigations with a passion for sport, particularly football and tennis, which are two of the main sport properties we work with.
Integrity can mean different things to different people, what is it you?
I think the crux of integrity in sport comes down to the audience believing that the event they are watching is real and they can trust that the winner is the result of a fair competition. Once the public loses confidence in a sporting event, whether it be through a doping, match fixing, or corporate governance scandals, it can be incredibly difficult for the veracity of matches, competitions or individual achievements to be trusted and not to be viewed with cynicism. This can have a knock-on effect for Rights Holders and broadcasters when trying to promote and achieve value for their sports.
During a sporting event, what are the priorities for an integrity team? How much of your work is proactive and reactive?
In the integrity team a part of our work is always going to be the reactive crisis management side, whether that be a group trying to corrupt our data scouts or receiving information around suspicious betting activity on a tennis match for example. However, what we should always be aiming to do is to try and move away from ‘fire-fighting’ and to become more ‘intelligence-led.’ Our aim is to try and identify upcoming threats and risks using the intelligence we’re collecting and then taking steps to allocate resources or take preventative action to mitigate these risks. In this way the need for ‘fire-fighting’ and crisis management should be reduced.
What preventative measures are most successful?
Education and training are the two most successful preventative measures. Both the Integrity Team and Field Operations have put a huge amount of work and resources into Integrity Training and Education for our data scouts, whether that be integrity on-boarding interviews when they join or integrity input in the Scout Conferences that are held globally throughout the year. Field Operations have done a great job in ensuring that data scouts understand and feel that they are part of the wider Stats Perform business and that their role is vital to our business. As a result, they are less likely to be compromised by corruptors and more likely to feedback information to the Integrity Team. For me, our Scout Network is an essential intelligence source. Many of the scouts watch the same teams every week and can provide highly detailed feedback on matches which may raise an integrity concern, whilst still ensuring that they continue to collect accurate and timely data.
How important is technology in supporting your integrity work?
Technology is undoubtedly important in supporting our integrity work. Our Betting Analysis team uses a bespoke Betting Monitoring Tool that assists them in identifying suspicious odds movements in betting markets. We use industry leading intelligence management software to record our information and enable us to identify patterns and trends in this data. However, these tools are only useful with the expertise in place to analyse the results that they identify. In the Integrity Team we have a wide range of experience across sports integrity, law enforcement, corporate investigations, betting analysis etc., enabling us to take a multi-faceted approach to our work.