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Contextual safeguarding

In April 2017, the Council was awarded nearly £2m to overhaul the way local authorities approach child protection.

The funding, from the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Fund, will allow the Council – in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire – to develop a radical new approach to safeguarding, which shifts the focus of social work from the family home, to consider much wider influences.

The Council wants to find effective ways to protect children from risks outside the family home, recognising that young people are increasingly being influenced by their peer groups and surroundings, which are outside the control of their families and cannot necessarily be addressed by traditional social work interventions, which focus on individual children and families.

This traditional approach limits the extent to which social workers and multi-agency partners can safeguard young people who experience abuse or exploitation outside of the family environment.

Contextual safeguarding theory

To address this, we will be using an approach called ‘contextual safeguarding’ theory, which was developed by Dr Carlene Firmin, of The University of Bedfordshire,

This involves considering how, for example, peer groups, social media, neighbourhoods and schools, impact on young people’s vulnerability.

The programme will also seek to establish new partnerships with organisations like transport providers, local businesses, fast food restaurants and other places where young people gather.

An aim of the project is to reduce the need to move children away from unsafe social environments and instead, create safety in the places and communities in which they spend their time.

If you have and questions about the project, email

How can I find out more or get involved?

To find out more, visit the Contextual Safeguarding Network.

If you have a question about the Hackney programme or would like to get involved, email

Page updated on: 4 July 2019