1st Edition

Contextual Safeguarding and Child Protection Rewriting the Rules

By Carlene Firmin Copyright 2021
    286 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    286 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers a complete account of Contextual Safeguarding theory, policy, and practice frameworks for the first time. It highlights the particular challenge of extra-familial routes through which young people experience significant harm, such as child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, serious youth violence, domestic abuse in teenage relationships, bullying, gang-association, and radicalisation.

    Through analysing case reviews, observing professionals, and co-creating practices with them, Firmin provides a personal, philosophical, strategic, and practical account of the design, implementation and future of Contextual Safeguarding. Drawing together a wealth of practice examples, case studies, policy references, and practitioner insights for the first time, this book articulates a new safeguarding framework and provides a detailed account of its translation across an entire child protection system and its relevant component parts.

    It will be of interest to all scholars, students, and professionals working within social work, youth justice and youth work, policing and law enforcement, community safety, council services, forensic and clinical psychology, counselling, health, and education.

    List of Tables

    List of Figures


    Part 1: The challenge we face and the lens through which we view it

    Chapter 1: Opening

    Chapter 2: Extra-Familial Abuse in Context

    Chapter 3: A Flawed Equation = A Systemic Gap

    Chapter 4: A Contextual Lens

    Part 2: Establishing the building blocks for Change

    Chapter 5: Crystallising Ideas: When tweaking is insufficient

    Chapter 6: Articulating an ambition: A Contextual Safeguarding FrameworkChapter 7: Creating an authorising environment: Contextualising national policy frameworks

    Part 3: Mapping and test running Contextual Safeguarding Systems

    Chapter 8: The developers, their tools and their roadmapChapter 9: Bringing Context into Work with Children and Families: Level 1 Contextual Safeguarding

    Chapter 10: Believing that change can happen: Level 2 Contextual Safeguarding

    Chapter 11: Policy frameworks and strategic partnerships

    Chapter 12: Values and Impact: Deepening the Contextual Safeguarding Framework

    Part 4 Looking back and planning forward: a pit stop on the path to Contextual Safeguarding

    Chapter 13: Reaching my threshold: the grounds for state, and social work, intervention

    Chapter 14 Formulating the ‘social work’ offer in a Contextual Safeguarding SystemChapter 15 The techniques and pitfalls of change: Mirroring, co-creation and case studies

    Chapter 16: The legality and ethics of Contextual Safeguarding

    Chapter 17 On the Side of Hope: Next steps on the road to Contextual Safeguarding




    Carlene Firmin MBE is a Principal Research Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire, where she leads their Contextual Safeguarding programme. Carlene has researched young people’s experiences of community and group-based violence since 2005, advocating for comprehensive approaches that keep young people safe in public places, schools, and peer groups.

    I heard Dr Firmin outline the principles of Contextual Safeguarding at the end of 2019 and I commented then that her ideas were among the most innovative I had encountered during some 30 years working in UK universities. Now that I’ve read this book I am even more convinced of its originality and importance.
    David Shemmings OBE PHD is emeritus professor of child protection research at the University of Kent, UK and visiting professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

    In my opinion, Contextual Safeguarding is one of the most significant developments for the safeguarding sector in many years. This book makes a vital contribution to the knowledge base, providing challenge and provoking thought in every chapter. Most impressively, it does so whilst also offering hope. It is essential reading for anyone interested in protecting young people and promoting safe communities.
    Dez Holmes, Director, Research in Practice and Research in Practice for Adults, UK

    If you want to know what the ‘Contextual Safeguarding’ buzz is about, the new kid on the Child Protection block, you’ve arrived. This is a corker. In her inimitable style, Dr Carlene Firmin effortlessly unpacks this compelling, ground-breaking concept with a potency that leaves you wondering how we’ve ever done without it. An absolute game-changer for mis-labelled children and families needing protection from extra-familial harm - hope now on the horizon.
    Founder, SPACE (Stop & Prevent Adolescent Criminal Exploitation), UK