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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual exploitation by organised networks investigation report


F7: Contextual safeguarding

48. Contextual safeguarding focusses on the environments in which children spend their lives (such as neighbourhoods, schools and online spaces) and seeks to understand and respond to the experiences of significant harm suffered outside of the family home. The Department for Education’s evaluation of a contextual safeguarding pilot in Hackney concluded that it provides a “workable framework” in which to consider extra-familial risk and harm and that there are some “slight indicators” that it has the potential to exert a positive impact on practice.[1] Following the pilot, the University of Bedfordshire is working on a three-year ‘Scale-Up’ project in nine areas, including Bristol and Swansea.[2]

49. Through its contextual safeguarding project, Bristol City Council has implemented oversight meetings which look at “extrafamilial harm in the round”.[3]

50. In Swansea, a January 2020 systems review found that Swansea Council was “identifying extra familial harm within current practice better than the other sites that they looked at across the UK, and responding to this in a coordinated manner”.[4]

51. The contextualised safeguarding approach may have merit in its wider consideration of factors affecting child sexual exploitation but the evidence base to date is relatively thin and it should not unintentionally result in a dilution of focus on the child’s needs.

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