Leading the way in child protection
Child death and serious harm through maltreatment affects everyone, from the media to practitioners and the public. Professor Marian Brandon and her team are leading ground-breaking research examining the most serious cases of child abuse and neglect for the Government.
University of East Anglia's studies have already informed major child protection policy and law both within the UK and internationally.
In England, multi-agency local enquiries, Serious Case Reviews are carried out following the death (and in some cases serious harm) of a child where maltreatment is known or suspected. Since 2006, the Government have been commissioning UEA to conduct national analyses of these reviews to identify learning to improve frontline practice with the aim of preventing child deaths through maltreatment.
UEA’s Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF) are undertaking their sixth consecutive study for the Government of such reviews across England.
Professor Brandon commented: "Our efforts with the CRCF continue to pinpoint where children may be at most risk, and to identify opportunities for providing cross-agency support and decisive action for children and families who are especially vulnerable".
Their last report of reviews from 2011-2014 was published in 2016 and up until now CRCF have studied a total of 1,100 reviews dating from 2003-2014. CRCF are currently engaged in a new triennial review of Serious Case Reviews from 2014-2017. UEA continue to work alongside Dr Peter Sidebotham from Warwick University, making this their fourth collaboration on Serious Case Reviews. The Department for Education are particularly interested in this study providing an assessment of the implementation and impact on child protection practice of recommendations from Serious Case Reviews. The study will also examine the impact of recent policy initiatives including the reforms to the ways these reviews have been carried out. Findings will help to inform the implementation of the Children and Social work Act 2017.
Neglect remains a high priority for CRCF in their Serious Case Reviews studies. Professor Brandon said "everyone should be aware of how easily neglect can get side-lined...professionals need to keep an open mind about the possibility of neglect having a fatal or very serious outcome for a child." The way in which practitioners can fail to take account of families’ past history and patterns of behaviour has become an important barrier to practitioner understanding. Professor Brandon addressed practitioners across New South Wales, Australia about this as well as other learning about neglect at a keynote address and practitioner Masterclass in Sydney in September 2016.
Professor Brandon’s expertise is often called upon. For example, Brandon has been a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the high profile Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Similarly, in 2012, Professor Brandon gave evidence to the Education Select Committee which examined improvements needed for neglect, older children and the thresholds for intervention. UEA’s 2016 Serious Case Review study is mentioned in the 2016 Wood Report of the Role and Functions of Local Safeguarding Children Boards which recommends a new structure for carrying out Serious Case Reviews which was taken up in the Children and Social Work Act 2017. Professor Brandon gave evidence to Alan Wood and presented at an All Parliamentary Group seminar on child protection in March 2016. CRCF continue to work closely with the NSPCC and with Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Policing lead for child protection and abuse investigation, to help the police respond to child abuse and neglect at an earlier stage.
CRCF continue to strive to provide crucial learning for all those who work closely with children and families and also on a national level for the Government and policy makers.