Research in Practice

For the second RIP Blog I have focused on contextual safeguarding, Knowsley a growing reputations for gangs and youth violence. In the past months, however, lockdown has impacted on the risk and we are starting to see changes in those risk, in some cases a reduction in risk, in other an increase due to the lack of professional oversight and with children not being back in school until this month the normal oversight and safety net that we use has not been present. This is an area of focus that was discussed with Research in Practice at the last annual meeting and I identified that although there was useful research what we were missing is the less “dry” resources that can be used to increased basic knowledge around exploitation models, the appeal of gang culture and glamorisation of the lifestyle. Therefore in the edition of the RIP Blog I have looked for resources that are more easily engaged to support learning. The Social Work Book Club has reviewed a book by Jason Farrell: County Lines. I have also reviewed ”Blue Story”, by Director Rapman, that depicts the story of two young males drawn into gang, drug and crime culture, in London. Although not reflective of the culture of gangs and exploitation in the Liverpool region, this is the type of film popular within the groups of young people who are involved or potentially at risk of exploitation.

Below are some of the resources that that research in practice that I have reviewed the resources on offer and highlighted the key ones that I felt are the, most applicable and useful ones for Social workers in the Children’s Teams, including training Podcasts, Publications and webinars. In addition to this I have included a link to a Community Care Podcast where Knowsley’s Sam Roper discusses the topic with Dr Carlene Firmin who developed the contextual safeguarding framework, including: What is contextual safeguarding?, Implementing contextual safeguarding in a local authority, Applying contextual safeguarding as an individual practitioner or team, Legal questions around working with groups of peers, locations and child protection processes applied to extra-familial harm, The impact of Covid-19 and lockdown on contextual safeguarding work. I have listened to this a couple of time and it is a really good resource to develop your understand of the remit, complexity, local view and the impact of the recent lockdown.

Related Training

Young people and gangs: Approaches to assessment and intervention to facilitate their disengagement, online training/webinar.


Research in Practice to deliver – Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme –

Frequently asked questions – Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme –

Exploitation of young people – Working with boys and young men –


County lines, criminal exploitation and cuckooing part one: Greater Manchester’s learning – Consider the definitions of criminal exploitation and county lines in the context of what the issues look like in Greater Manchester –

Safeguarding children and young people from exploitation – Working to enable an effective safeguarding response for children and young people who are, or are at risk of, being exploited –


Exploitation of boys and young men – Public awareness of young people’s exploitation mainly concerns the abuse of girls by older men, whereas adolescent boys can be perceived as a threat in relation to gang involvement –

Young people and gangs: Approaches to assessment and intervention to facilitate their disengagement –


Children and young people missing from care and vulnerable to sexual exploitation (Self-reflection tools) –

Working Effectively to Address Child Sexual Exploitation: Evidence Scope (2017) Appendix A –

Useful websites:

Contextual Safeguarding Network:  The website has useful resources to increase knowledge and understanding, with links to practice guidance, training and an implementation toolkit –

Social Work Book Club

For this blog, the book club we have read County Lines by Jason Farrell. Jason Farrell is a journalist who secured interviews and access to a range of people involved in contextual safeguarding including children who have been exploited, gang members involved in the recruitment and running of children, as well as the Police and policy makers. This is good introduction  to the subject of county lines and child exploitation, with examples of grooming and entrapment. It also reflected on changes in approach and how professionals and helping to tackle the issue on the ground. However it is a bit sensationalised and it does not cover the topics that Sam Roper has touched on her podcast in terms of the targeted approach lead by research and knowledge. At the moment the books are in Nutgrove so I can’t get copies out to anyone, but when I can I will get them back and keep them in Muni where people can at least pick up a copy if they want.


Blue story – Film, directed by Rapman

Released in 2019, Blue story depicts the story of two friends from separate boroughs of London, who grow up as friends but then in their teens becomes at odds with each other due to the gangs that their borough are associated with. Although the story does not touch upon the issue of exploitation and county lines it is an important resource to consider when trying to understand what our young people are seeing and what the gang culture can look and feel like for a young person. At the time of its release there was controversy as it was felt that the film glamorised gang culture, however the film also looks at the impact of gang involvement for members. The film is on Amazon Prime for rent or purchase.  In addition to this there is the Netflix series called Top Boy, a series that depicts the rise of a drug dealer in Hackney, London. The series demonstrates how gang hierarchy and culture can work, however both this and Blue Story are focused on the culture of Gangs in London and there is significant difference in the culture that we experience in Knowsley, but again it is a useful resource to understand what some of our young people are seeing and what influences they are exposed to.