Child protection systems in the United Kingdom: A comparative analysis

  • Stafford, Anne (Principal Investigator)
  • Parton, Nigel (Co-investigator)
  • Vincent, Sharon (Co-investigator)
  • Smith, Connie (Principal Investigator)

Project Details


The project brought together a body of work conducted in the Centre between 2007-2010. It provides new knowledge about developments in child protection in the UK in the context of devolution* and about where the UK sits in relation to other systems world-wide. Using a qualitative, case study approach, this work includes detailed comparative research on the similarities and differences between child protection systems in different parts of the UK. The research unravels the complex and interrelated factors driving change and reform in child protection in the UK; and looks further afield to gauge how systems in the UK compare with other systems across the world. Additionally the work highlights the usefulness of comparing one system against the other to provide new knowledge and understanding. This research culminated in a book** published in 2012; a number of briefing papers** on specific topics were produced in the lead-up to its publication. [Notes: *Within the UK, the three devolved nations – Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – have different constitutional arrangements and distinct relationships with the UK Government. **Child Protection policy and systems are constantly evolving. These publications provide a picture accurate at the time of publication.]

Layman's description

Comparative research on child protection policy and systems across the UK, including where they sit in relation to systems world-wide.

Key findings

Broadly, all parts of the UK have been travelling in a direction away from being narrowly focused on child protection (with an emphasis on investigation and prosecution) towards a system where children’s protection needs are met in the context of their wider support needs. There are currently many similarities in the approaches taken to child protection in the four parts of the UK. While there are differences in terminology and in the way data is collected, legislation, guidance and child protection processes show a high degree of overlap. Following devolution, policy divergence has not yet happened to the extent expected; and England has tended to be the context setter. Current developments may result in greater divergence in future.
Effective start/end date1/01/0731/12/10


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