• Children at the centre of safety: challenging the false juxtaposition of protection and participation

      Warrington, Camille; Larkins, Cath; University of Bedfordshire; University of Central Lancashire (Emerald, 2019-09-05)
      Guest editorial
    • Considerations in the use of local and national data for evaluating innovation in children’s social care

      Firmin, Carlene Emma; Preston, Oli; Godar, Rebecca; Lefevre, Michelle; Boddy, Janet; University of Sussex; University of Bedfordshire; Research in Practice (Emerald, 2021-05-06)
      Design/methodology/approach This paper examines the use of data routinely collected by local authorities as part of the evaluation of innovation. Issues entailed are discussed and illustrated through two case studies of evaluations conducted by the research team within the context of children’s social care in England. Purpose We explore the possibilities in using such national, statutory datasets for evaluating change and the challenges of understanding service patterns and outcomes in complex cases when only a limited view can be gained using existing data. Our discussion also explores how methodologies can adapt to evaluation in these circumstances. Findings The quantitative analysis of local authority data can play an important role in evaluating innovation but researchers will need to address challenges related to: selection of a suitable methodology; identifying appropriate comparator data; accessing data and assessing its quality; and sustaining and increasing the value of analytic work beyond the end of the research. Examples are provided of how the two case studies experienced and addressed these challenges. Originality/value The paper discusses some common issues experienced in quasi-experimental approaches to the quantitative evaluation of children’s services which have, until recently, been rarely used in the sector. There are important considerations which are of relevance to researchers, service leads in children’s social care, data and performance leads, and funders of innovation. Implications of the research for policy and practice * Quasi-experimental methods can be beneficial tools for understanding the impact of innovation in children’s services, but researchers should also consider the complexity of children’s social care and the use of mixed and appropriate methods. * Those funding innovative practice should consider the additional burden on those working with data and the related data infrastructure if wishing to document and analyse innovation in a robust way. * Data which may be assumed to be uniform may in fact not be when considered at a multi-area or national level, and further study of the data recording practice of social care professionals is required.
    • Covid-19, county lines and the seriously “left behind”

      Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire (JAI Press, 2020-09-25)
      Purpose: The purpose of this study is to suggest how the Covid-19 lockdown may affect illicit drug users and vulnerable children and young people who become involved in County lines drug dealing. Design/methodology/approach: This is an “opinion piece” based on data released by central and local government departments and voluntary sector sources concerning the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on illicit drug users and vulnerable children and young people. The data is augmented with information from recent discussions with police officers, youth workers and social workers in a London borough. Findings: It appears that the Covid-19 restrictions have had, and will continue to have, a deleterious impact upon both illicit drug users and the young people caught up in County lines drug distribution. Originality/value: The study’s originality lies in its attempt to use a range of sources to anticipate the consequences of the Covid-19 restrictions on illicit drug users and vulnerable children and young people.
    • From the ground up: young research advisors' perspectives on relationships between participation and protection

      Hamilton, CJ; Rodgers, Abbie; Howard, Keeley; Warrington, Camille; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald, 2019-09-05)
      Purpose This contribution is co-authored by three members of the Young Researchers' Advisory Panel (YRAP) at the International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking (IC) at the University of Bedfordshire, and supported by an academic researcher (Camille). The purpose of this paper is to reflect the group's discussions about the relationship between children's participation and protection, considered within the context of the group's role and work. Design/methodology/approach A collaborative reflection piece co-produced through discussions between young research advisors and academic colleagues. Findings This paper shows the young researchers' perspectives on the relationship between and interdependencies of child protection and child participation. Originality/value A unique contribution capturing children and young people's perspectives on the journal's theme and other contributions to it.
    • Joining the dots? Tackling child exploitation during Covid 19

      Racher, Anna; Brodie, Isabelle; Research in Practice for Adults; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald Publishing, 2020-10-20)
      Purpose – This paper aims to report on findings from action research undertaken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic by the Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme (TCESP), a Department for Education funded programme that provides support to local areas in improving their strategic approach to child exploitation and extra-familial harm. Design/methodology/approach – The research included a scoping review of the literature, and focus groups with programme staff, strategic leaders and professionals from different services across England. To provide a strategic lens, findings were then considered in relation to TCE’s ‘‘Joining the dots’’ framework, which encourages examination of the relationships between different forms of child exploitation. Findings – The action research highlighted the emerging and tentative nature of the knowledge base relating to child exploitation and extra-familial harm in the context of Covid-19. Findings revealed that there had been innovation in the use of digital methods and direct working, integration of practical support with other forms of service delivery and in partnership working, and also considerable variation in approach across different local areas. Practical implications – Strategic leaders need to use the evidence emerging from lockdown as a basis for further interrogation of emerging data alongside the views of young people, families and communities and their wider workforce. This includes new information about changing patterns of exploitation. Digital delivery and innovation need to be supported by clear strategic guidance, based on review of the evidence regarding increased digital communication and its impact. New partnerships developed between services, data sharing and innovative ways of working that have taken place during lockdown need to be monitored and evaluated for quality and impact. Originality/value – The action research findings offer a snapshot of practice regarding child exploitation and extra-familial harm at a mid-point in the Covid-19 lockdown in England and Wales.
    • Life in a lanyard: developing an ethics of embedded research methods in children’s social care

      Lloyd, Jenny; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald, 2021-07-05)
      Purpose: To consider the opportunities for embedded methodologies for research into children’s social care and the ethics of this method. Design: The study draws upon embedded research from a two year study into developing children’s social work approaches to extra-familial risk. Findings draw upon personal reflections from field notes, case reviews, practice observations and reflections. Findings: Two findings are presented. Firstly, that Embedded Research provides numerous opportunities to develop child protection systems and practice. Secondly, a number of ethical questions and challenges of the methodology are presented. Limitations: the article draws upon personal reflections from one study and is not intended to be representative of all approaches to embedded research methods. Practical implications: Two practical recommendations are presented. Firstly I outline a number of recommendations to university researchers and host organisations on the facilitative attributes for embedded researchers. Secondly, questions are raised to support university ethics boards to assist ethical frameworks for embedded research. Originality: the article contributes original empirical data to the limited literature on embedded research in children’s services.
    • Responding to youth gangs in England: a public health model?

      Pitts, John (Emerald, 2019-06-06)
      Purpose The purpose of this paper is to consider youth gangs and county lines with reference to the current drive for a public health response to these issues. Design/methodology/approach This viewpoint paper traces the development of gang and serious youth violence responses in England, exploring the shift from a punitive to safeguarding response to young people affected by these issues. Findings Drawing on the learning from both Scotland and the USA, this paper considers the relevance of a public health model to responding to youth gangs and county lines, highlighting the key facets of such an approach. Originality/value This paper provides a historical context to the issues surrounding previous responses to youth gangs and goes on to consider the practicalities and relevance of a public health model response.
    • Safeguarding children under Covid -19: what are we learning?

      Pearce, Jenny J.; Miller, Chris; University of Bedfordshire; Harrow Safeguarding Partnership (Emerald, 2020-11-30)
      This ‘view point’ identifies learning from a series of webinars held by the Association of Safeguarding Partners (www.theASP.org.uk). These webinars have been sharing information about both the challenges and opportunities presented in safeguarding children during the Covid-19 pandemic. They are advertised as open access and have been attended by UK safeguarding leads, including scrutineers of local safeguarding children partnerships (LSCPs), practitioners representing local authorities, police, health, and the Department for Education. Findings from the webinars note concerns about continuing and undetected abuse of children within and outside of the home; about the changing nature of criminal exploitation; and about the strains created by social distancing on children in families experiencing problems with poor mental health, drug and alcohol misuse and domestic abuse. Despite this, there have been some important and helpful lessons learnt, including the discovery of innovative ways of working, the rapid collation of data across partnerships and about different methods of engaging with children, young people, and their families. This ‘think piece’ gives a brief summary of these findings with suggestions about their possible impact on the future safeguarding of children.
    • Unjust pains: the impact of COVID-19 on children in prison

      Bateman, Tim; ; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald, 2020-10-13)
      Purpose The purpose of this paper is to consider the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the treatment of children in penal custody. Design/methodology/approach This paper is a viewpoint piece that analyses the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for children in custody, drawing on published information where available. Findings This paper argues that imprisoned children are an extremely vulnerable group, whose experience of incarceration exacerbates that vulnerability at the best of times. Responses to COVID-19 are particularly painful for children in those settings, and the consequences are manifestly unjust. Originality/value This paper provides an early attempt to consider the impact of COVID-19 on children in prison.
    • Young people and ‘county lines’: a contextual and social account

      Wroe, Lauren; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald, 2021-01-04)
      This paper presents an analysis of a ‘county lines’ safeguarding partnership in a large city region of England. A critical analysis of current literature and practice responses to ‘county lines’ is followed by the presentation of an analytical framework that draws on three contextual and social theories of (child) harm. This framework is applied to the partnership work to ask: are the interconnected conditions of criminal exploitation of children via ‘county lines’ understood, do interventions target the contexts of harm, and is social and institutional harm acknowledged and addressed? The analytical framework is applied to a dataset collected by the author throughout a two year study of the project. Qualitative data collected by the author and quantitative data published by the project are coded and thematically analysed in NVivo against the analytic framework. Critical tensions are surfaced in how multi-agency, child welfare practices are applied to ‘county lines’ affected young people. Generalising these findings to the child welfare sector at large, it is proposed that the contextual dynamics of child harm via ‘county lines’ must be understood in a broader sense, including how multi-agency child welfare practices contribute to the harm experienced by young people. There are limited peer-reviewed analyses of child welfare responses to ‘county lines’. This paper contributes to that limited scholarship, extending the analysis by adopting a critical analytic framework to a regional county lines project at the juncture of future national, child welfare responses to ‘county lines’.