A mock court scene at UWE Bristol

Family, Gender and Equality Research Unit

The Family, Gender and Equality Research Unit (FGERU) provides a supportive structure for members to research the broad areas of family, gender and equality. Some of the leading thinkers in this field are part of FGERU to encourage the development and exchange of ideas for our current work, and future projects.

One of our areas of specialism is in the field of public family law, with the relationship between state powers and private rights forming a major part of our work. This is led by Dr Lauren Devine and Mr Stephen Parker, whose work along with FGERU has been presented to several government consultations and at international conferences. With the agendas of welfare and policing agencies pulling in different directions around the issue of child protection, their research highlights the challenges faced by the state in this area.

With funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (grant number ES/M000990/1), they completed a two-year project, ‘Rethinking Child Protection Strategy’. This evaluated child protection and family intervention processes, assessed research findings and numeric data to argue that child protection strategy in England needs to change. They found that while there was a large increase in the number of children being referred to social services, the amount of child abuse cases being reported had fallen. Its impact was such that an analysis of the issues was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice.

Much of our work takes a long-term view and leads on to further discoveries. Other research led by Dr Devine and Mr Parker investigated child protection and safeguarding training in schools. Its findings led to suggestions where improvements could be made – and helped gain the ESRC grant for ‘Rethinking Child Protection Strategy’.

Our members also regularly engage with the media to highlight the benefits of FGERU’s research. Our work has a real-world focus and looks to produce tangible results for both our members and the external agencies we work with.

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