Q & A with Sir Bernard Silverman


17 April 2018
Sir Bernard Silverman attended CLS from 1961 to 1969 on a Carpenter Scholarship (similar to today’s full Bursary). From CLS, he went on to study Mathematics and then Statistics at Cambridge University. In parallel with his doctoral research into computational statistics, he co-designed the first pocket programmable calculator, the Sinclair Cambridge Programmable.

Recognised as a pioneer of computational statistics, Sir Bernard has continued to publish extensively in this field. His research has ranged widely across the many theoretical and practical aspects of statistics and included multiple significant collaborations in areas of industry, commerce, finance, law and government. He has held senior academic and leadership posts at the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Oxford, and spent much time as a visitor of Stanford and various other universities in the USA and worldwide.

From 2010 to 2017, Sir Bernard worked as Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office. He provided advice on all aspects of Home Office policy and operations to the Home Secretary, ministers and officials. He also led research and science within the Home Office, establishing relationships within and outside Government, including internationally.

Building on his work for the Home Office, his main research activity is now in modern slavery and its prevalence today in the UK. He produced the first estimates using a scientific methodology, which played a pivotal role in the strategy leading to the Modern Slavery Act 2015. He is now a member of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Modern Slavery, and is developing this methodology further and applying it worldwide. He is also the chair of the Technology Advisory Panel to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, who provides independent oversight of the use of investigatory powers by intelligence agencies, police forces and other public authorities. His other main current work is to give advice about modernising the census, so that the 2021 census will make use of the best possible methodology in the present data age.

Sir Bernard was knighted in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List for public service and services to Science.

Click here to view Sir Bernard’s Ted Talk on modern slavery.

If you have any questions for Sir Bernard, we would love to hear from you! Please  message alumni@cityoflondonschool.org.uk and include your question(s), full name and years at CLS.