Logo close icon

Social Work and Social Policy

Overview of Social Work and Social Policy

This submission presented work carried out by researchers in the School of Law and the Departments of Criminology and Sociology; Mental Health and Social Work; Adult, Child and Midwifery; Psychology; and Marketing, Branding and Tourism at Middlesex University. A total of 45 members of staff were involved in these four impact case studies, working in three research groups: Informing Professional Interventions; Crime, Conflict, and Human Security; and Social Justice, Inequality and Migration

  • REF 2021 Impact Case Studies

    • Animals & Society: Introducing a Green Criminological Dimension to Public Policy

      The impact we achieved

      Research undertaken at Middlesex University on criminal justice system responses to animal abuse and animal law enforcement has made a significant impact in two principal areas, dog-fighting and dangerous dogs, through:

      • Providing evidence that underpins proposed major policy and enforcement changes in animal law, criminal justice, and criminal behaviour policy presented to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Welsh Government and Scottish Government officials
      • Informing NGO policy initiatives and legislative campaigns. This includes those of the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), NGO policy forums and direct input into campaigns.

      The research behind it

      Between 2013 and 2020, our research team conducted and published a stream of research on Animals and Society which focused on animal abuse and animal crime, investigating in particular how animal protection law and policy is affected by policy changes, including Brexit. The following three specific projects, undertaken between 2015 and 2020, have led to direct review of improvements in policy on dangerous dogs, developed best practice guidelines, and established links between animal abuse and human violence:

      • A detailed review of the current state of dog-fighting in the UK which analysed the effectiveness of current legislation and whose findings were presented to MPs and other League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) stakeholders as an evidence base for increased sentencing options for animal abuse offences, providing the basis for an NGO campaign aimed at changing the law
      • An analysis of the links between animal abuse and human violence, in collaboration with Northumbria University
      • A Review of the policy and policing approach around the dangerous dogs problem, with research funding from the Defra. Following examinations of the reasons why dog attacks continue to be a problem and whether irresponsible dog ownership was a cause, our review identified shortcomings and provided evidence-based recommendations for policy and enforcement changes.

      The people involved at Middlesex and beyond

      The Middlesex research team included Dr Angus Nurse, Dr Carly Guest, Dr Lilian Miles, and Dr Simon Harding.

      One of the underpinning research projects was carried out in collaboration with Professor Tanya Wyatt (Northumbria University).

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

    • Cultural competence and client centred care: The CARESSES Project: Enabling the development of ‘culturally competent’ artificially intelligent socially assistive humanoid robots

      The impact we achieved 

      Cultural competence is the ability to respond effectively to people from different cultures and backgrounds, resulting in the delivery of services that meet the cultural and communication needs of patients. It is seen as crucial for high quality, patient and client-centred care. Middlesex Professor Irena Papadopoulos and colleague have created the content, models and guidelines for a culturally competent robot, and collaborated with partners who enabled the software’s application and operationalisation. The key impacts of our research are on:

      • Practice and education, through adoption of our cultural competence model as best practice by educators across Europe
      • Public and policy awareness, by starting a new level of parliamentary and public debate about responsible technology and novel possibilities in the use of artificially intelligent socially assistive humanoid robots in caring roles
      • Industry, by making available on open access our reports which contain all processes and outputs for the development of a culturally competent socially assistive robots. The CARESSES trial and  evaluation has shown that care home participants who interacted with CARESSES culturally competent robots experienced improved mental health and reduced loneliness compared to those who interacting with robots lacking this programming.

      The research behind it 

      The open-source documents and software that details the framework and content for cultural knowledge representation, and for culturally sensitive planning and execution, on the part of the CARESSES humanoid socially assistive robot is underpinned by 25 years  research by the Middlesex University’s Research Centre for Transcultural Studies in Health, headed by Professor Papadopoulos into cultural competence in healthcare and education delivery, including:

      • Development, and its later enhancement, of the Papadopoulos, Tilki and Taylor model for cultural competence (Papadopoulos I et al (1998) and Papadopoulos I (2006)). The model was the basis of the Intercultural Education for Nurses in Europe (IENE) programme of education – established by Professor Papadopoulos in 2008 and receiving since EU funding for ten projects – benefitting educators and learners in 24 participating institutions across 16 European countries
      • Data gathering from three cultural groups resulting in the production of theoretical models enabling robots to understand and learn about an individual’s cultural identity, while ensuring that they are able to assess, act and review actions without stereotyping.

      The people involved at Middlesex and beyond 

      The Middlesex research team was led by Professor Rena Papadopoulos and assisted by Dr Christina Koulouglioti.

      CARESSES was undertaken by a multi-disciplinary research team comprising Middlesex University, the University of Bedforshire, the University of Genoa (Italy) and Örebro University (Sweden). Three Japanese universities (Nagoya, Chubu and Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) and two EU-based commercial companies (SOFTBANK robotics and ADVINIA) were also involved.

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

    • Improving Children’s Digital Experiences and Reducing Real-World Exploitation

      The impact we achieved

      This case study’s research findings and recommendations have informed important legislative, policy, education and policing changes relating to children and young people across the UK, as well as police practice and training for  front line practitioners internationally. The project’s key impacts include:

      • A new statutory requirement to teach relationships and sex education in all secondary schools with concomitant guidance and a public consultation on how to implement the duty
      • A significant contribution, through training, to the way officers perceive, understand and police online child sexual abuse
      • New guidance from the information Commissioner’s office designed to deliver ‘safety by design’
      • A child sexual abuse offending typology
      • A new statutory requirement (the Online Safety Bill 2022), which promises new measures, to allow internet users more control over who can contact them and what they see online, and requires all websites that publish or host pornography to verify their users are over 18.

      The research behind it

      Our research team investigated how internet access may compound risks children face that, if unmanaged, could undermine their wellbeing. Their work also highlighted gaps in policing practice, and differences in risk of solicitation across adolescents and received extensive national and international media coverage for providing the first incontrovertible evidence that viewing pornography affects the behaviour of young people. These impacts result from research focusing on the online exploitation of children and their exposure to harmful content, including on:

      • Criminal justice system responses to intra-familial child sexual abuse and the impacts on children and young people, both of exploitation and how authorities have responded
      • Policing practice tackling online child sexual abuse across the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Ireland, as well as victims’ experience of being solicited and groomed online
      • Key performance indicators and desired outcomes in safeguarding cyberspace from indecent images of children
      • New typology of offending behaviours related to child sexual abuse
      • Implications for men’s attitudes towards women, sexual aggression, and the mainstreaming of dangerous sexism
      • The impacts of pornography on children and young people.

      The people involved at Middlesex

      Our research team included Dr Elena Martellozzo, Professor Miranda Horvath, Dr Jeffrey DeMarco, Professor Joanna Adler, Professor Julia Davidson, Dr Anna Gekoski, Dr Rodolfo Leyva, and Dr Andy Monaghan.

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

    • Drug interventions for young people in contact with the criminal justice system: transforming practice among practitioners

      The impact we achieved
      The Exchanging Prevention practices on Polydrug use among youth In Criminal justice systems (EPPIC) project addressed the research gap in drugs prevention policy and practice in relation to young people (aged 14-25) in contact with the criminal justice system (CJS). Bringing together expertise from academics and practitioners in the UK and abroad, the project has provided new insights into drug use among young people in the criminal justice system and new tools for practitioners to enable more effective engagement of young people in interventions and more effective service responses. Its main impacts, with focus on the Middlesex contribution, are:

      • Production of Quality Standards (QS) in six European countries which have informed workforce learning, training, and development of ‘best practice’ among practitioners working in the CJS, substance use services, and youth services. In the UK, the project initiated further development of the QS to implement in service delivery.
      • Development of guidelines/best practice on ‘engagement’ for UK practitioners – leading to changes within partner services in how practitioners develop relationships and engage with young people
      • Improvements in approaches to young clients and development of ‘good practice’ resulting from knowledge exchange between stakeholders (practitioners, researchers, others)
      • Creation of new networks between different stakeholders both nationally and within participating project countries.
      • Evidence to support re-conceptualisation and review of policy and service development.

      The research behind it

      The project’s development is underpinned by findings from studies undertaken by the research team since 2007 on risk and prevention, substance use among marginalised groups and young people, and the interface between substance use and the CJS. Middlesex involvement in seven cross-national European research projects and collaborative networks between 2005 and 2016 had provided the necessary infrastructure, partnerships, and knowledge to lead on and deliver EPPIC from January 2017.

      The research team addressed the lack of prior research in the area by:

      • Gathering knowledge and exchanging best practice on interventions to prevent illicit drug use/polydrug use among young people in touch with the CJS
      • Developing a set of QS based on the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards, adapted to initiatives aimed at the target group (available in English, German, Italian and Polish)
      • Initiating an international knowledge exchange network for practitioners and stakeholders working with young people in the CJS.
      • Based on the research findings, and through consultation with the above network, we co-produced the ‘Handbook on Quality Standards for Interventions aimed at Drug Experienced Young People in contact with Criminal Justice Systems’. We also created further guidance for practitioners and a wider set of priority recommendations relevant to policy makers and planners.

      The people involved at Middlesex and beyond

      Our research team consists of Professor Betsy Thom, Professor Karen Duke, Dr Rachel Herring , and Dr Helen Gleeson from the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at Middlesex University.

      The broad international knowledge exchange network which we initiated, brought together experts from across the UK national third sector service providers (including Home Office and Public Health England), EU institutions (including from European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and European Commission), and international institutions (e.g. the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and WHO).

In this section

Back to top