The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is a non-departmental public body (NDPB). The Government is committed to the Haldane principle, whereby funding decisions are made by independent experts and as such government departments are not in a position to intervene in that decision making process on behalf of particular projects or individuals.
Research funding is awarded on a competitive basis and the decision to fund projects such as potential work on criminal gangs is taken by the ESRC following a peer review and wider commissioning process. Grant funding is very competitive, and it is not possible to fund all fundable proposals. The commissioning processes are, however, designed to ensure that all research areas are treated fairly.