Policing child abuse: challenges and opportunities for specialist units

Denise Martin, Lynn Kelly, Sharon Jackson, Sabina Byszko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Purpose
Drawing on the literature from the field and the recent experience of an evaluation into a child abuse investigation in Scotland, the purpose of this paper is to argue that evidence from the literature suggests that a more holistic approach drawing on the ideas of communities of practice could improve the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted.

Design/methodology/approach
This paper has been informed by a recent evaluation of a new national unit that was set up to investigate suspected child abuse in Scotland. This unit was established as part of the transition from eight regional police services in Scotland to a single national police service, Police Scotland. An important part of this evaluation was to consider the messages from previous research into the development of national police units and the role of the police in child protection investigations more generally.

Findings
What was uncovered were the challenges that police officers face in the current context of child abuse investigation particularly around construction of child abuse investigations, collaborative working, staff well-being and training.

Practical implications
The practical implications of this paper are as follows: police investigations into child abuse experience a range of issues, multi-agency and holistic approaches are more effective, agencies should be encouraged to establish communities of practice and staff need adequate levels of support and training.

Originality/value
This paper contributes towards a growing body of work examining the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted by police and the importance of inter-agency collaboration to support this. It contributes to academic debates and knowledge of the overall investigation process where, to date, there has been a paucity of literature and research that has tended to focus on evidence and experiences and to a boarder literature recognising the need for holistic approaches to tackle child abuse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-141
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice
Volume3
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2017

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Child Abuse
Police
abuse
police
Scotland
holistic approach
abuse of children
evaluation
staff
Training Support
experience
child protection
police officer
Research
community
evidence
well-being
literature
methodology

Keywords

  • justice, policing, victims, police, training/professionalization, child abuse, communities of practice, special units

Cite this

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title = "Policing child abuse: challenges and opportunities for specialist units",
abstract = "PurposeDrawing on the literature from the field and the recent experience of an evaluation into a child abuse investigation in Scotland, the purpose of this paper is to argue that evidence from the literature suggests that a more holistic approach drawing on the ideas of communities of practice could improve the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted.Design/methodology/approachThis paper has been informed by a recent evaluation of a new national unit that was set up to investigate suspected child abuse in Scotland. This unit was established as part of the transition from eight regional police services in Scotland to a single national police service, Police Scotland. An important part of this evaluation was to consider the messages from previous research into the development of national police units and the role of the police in child protection investigations more generally.FindingsWhat was uncovered were the challenges that police officers face in the current context of child abuse investigation particularly around construction of child abuse investigations, collaborative working, staff well-being and training.Practical implicationsThe practical implications of this paper are as follows: police investigations into child abuse experience a range of issues, multi-agency and holistic approaches are more effective, agencies should be encouraged to establish communities of practice and staff need adequate levels of support and training.Originality/valueThis paper contributes towards a growing body of work examining the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted by police and the importance of inter-agency collaboration to support this. It contributes to academic debates and knowledge of the overall investigation process where, to date, there has been a paucity of literature and research that has tended to focus on evidence and experiences and to a boarder literature recognising the need for holistic approaches to tackle child abuse.",
keywords = "justice, policing, victims, police, training/professionalization, child abuse, communities of practice, special units",
author = "Denise Martin and Lynn Kelly and Sharon Jackson and Sabina Byszko",
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doi = "10.1108/JCRPP-01-2017-0009",
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Policing child abuse: challenges and opportunities for specialist units. / Martin, Denise; Kelly, Lynn; Jackson, Sharon; Byszko, Sabina.

In: Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 3, No. 2, 12.06.2017, p. 132-141.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Martin, Denise

AU - Kelly, Lynn

AU - Jackson, Sharon

AU - Byszko, Sabina

N1 - Acceptance date from journal website Publication date and AAM requested x 2 ^Pub date from webpage AAM sourced from Dundee repository; uploaded by GCU library 24/1/19. Dundee have this recorded as non-compliant (with exception for delay in obtaining AAM) as deposited on 17 August 2017. Exception sent to author. ET 14/11/19 ^Author email in SAN, valid to apply as also not compliant in other repository. ET 14/11/19

PY - 2017/6/12

Y1 - 2017/6/12

N2 - PurposeDrawing on the literature from the field and the recent experience of an evaluation into a child abuse investigation in Scotland, the purpose of this paper is to argue that evidence from the literature suggests that a more holistic approach drawing on the ideas of communities of practice could improve the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted.Design/methodology/approachThis paper has been informed by a recent evaluation of a new national unit that was set up to investigate suspected child abuse in Scotland. This unit was established as part of the transition from eight regional police services in Scotland to a single national police service, Police Scotland. An important part of this evaluation was to consider the messages from previous research into the development of national police units and the role of the police in child protection investigations more generally.FindingsWhat was uncovered were the challenges that police officers face in the current context of child abuse investigation particularly around construction of child abuse investigations, collaborative working, staff well-being and training.Practical implicationsThe practical implications of this paper are as follows: police investigations into child abuse experience a range of issues, multi-agency and holistic approaches are more effective, agencies should be encouraged to establish communities of practice and staff need adequate levels of support and training.Originality/valueThis paper contributes towards a growing body of work examining the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted by police and the importance of inter-agency collaboration to support this. It contributes to academic debates and knowledge of the overall investigation process where, to date, there has been a paucity of literature and research that has tended to focus on evidence and experiences and to a boarder literature recognising the need for holistic approaches to tackle child abuse.

AB - PurposeDrawing on the literature from the field and the recent experience of an evaluation into a child abuse investigation in Scotland, the purpose of this paper is to argue that evidence from the literature suggests that a more holistic approach drawing on the ideas of communities of practice could improve the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted.Design/methodology/approachThis paper has been informed by a recent evaluation of a new national unit that was set up to investigate suspected child abuse in Scotland. This unit was established as part of the transition from eight regional police services in Scotland to a single national police service, Police Scotland. An important part of this evaluation was to consider the messages from previous research into the development of national police units and the role of the police in child protection investigations more generally.FindingsWhat was uncovered were the challenges that police officers face in the current context of child abuse investigation particularly around construction of child abuse investigations, collaborative working, staff well-being and training.Practical implicationsThe practical implications of this paper are as follows: police investigations into child abuse experience a range of issues, multi-agency and holistic approaches are more effective, agencies should be encouraged to establish communities of practice and staff need adequate levels of support and training.Originality/valueThis paper contributes towards a growing body of work examining the way in which child abuse investigations are conducted by police and the importance of inter-agency collaboration to support this. It contributes to academic debates and knowledge of the overall investigation process where, to date, there has been a paucity of literature and research that has tended to focus on evidence and experiences and to a boarder literature recognising the need for holistic approaches to tackle child abuse.

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