4 December 2013 saw the relaunch of the Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS). The event was held at the House of Lords and featured experts from a range of backgrounds coming together to discuss 'Key Child Protection Challenges in the Real and Digital Worlds: Implications for Research, Policy & Practice'.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Waqar Ahmed, opened the event and he highlighted how CATS joining Middlesex has been integral to the knowledge exchange activity that is buzzing within the university at present.
CATS directors, Professor Antonia Bifulco and Professor Julia Davidson began by reflecting on their wealth of research findings to highlight key challenges that still remain in the area of child protection. CATS current and recent projects include online safety, online abuse, cyber-bullying and how to achieve best evidence within police investigative practice. Following this, HM Assistant Inspector of Constabulary, Commander Peter Spindler went on to examine the impact, outcomes and learning from the police investigation of Jimmy Savile; Operation Yewtree. Professor of Social Policy at LSE, Eileen Munro, then spoke of improving child protection practice, bringing to light issues of managing uncertainty, creating a fair culture for staff and embedding a better understanding of the nature of expertise.
These presentations set the scene for a subsequent expert panel discussion. The panel was comprised of academics, practitioners and policy-makers, all for whom have child protection at the heart of their work. The debate and discussion, which carried over well into the lunchtime close of the day, was centred on the following key questions:
1. Is it possible to increase children’s voice and to ensure that views are reflected in practice?
2. How can we collaborate to ensure that vulnerable children are identified, enabled and protected online?
3. How to empower & skill services & increase interagency collaboration (knowledge base, morale, political status)
4. How can children’s exposure to online adult content be addressed? What steps should be taken?
5. How to increase impact of university/knowledge-base contribution (Closing the gap between research and policy and practice)