Lesson Drawing for Theory, Policy and Practice: Developing a Future Research Agenda


In the field of public policy, there has been a long tradition of literature on policy transfer and learning with a recent renewed scholarly interest (Dunlop, Radaelli, and Trien, 2018) in learning from comparisons, after identifying where to look for lessons to be learnt.

Despite the need for caution because of the normative assumption that learning is always a good thing, we take the work of Rose (1993, 2004) as a starting point. We also acknowledge some of the difficulties in importing and applying policies from one domain to another, but argue that at least in highlighting issues, it is possible to create awareness on policy problems and also point out potential pitfalls for evaluating future consequences on policy action. The aim of this collection was not to perfect theory on either Vulnerability, policy transfer or lesson learning, but instead to encourage each contributor to add empirical, practical, theoretical and policy insights that could aid future research directions in studying the topic. The researchers were deliberately chosen for their multi-disciplinarity in approach, and all were academics and policy/prac-titioners drawn from a variety of social science disciplines such as public leadership and management, social policy and social work, criminology and policing, IT and cyberspace, and contributions were invited from front-line professionals who are, or were, in direct day-to-day contact with vulnerable individuals and groups; nationally and internationally. A primary concern was the continual appraisal of existing theoretical concepts and models and their application (or not?) to policy and practice in the second decade of the 21st Century. Each chapter facilitated deeper reflection and reflexivity on current ways of defining, analysing, understanding and operationalising this significant concept of ‘Vulnerability’ in a variety of jurisdictions and contexts.

Lesson drawing within, and between, policy fields is a useful way of highlighting issues, and even if lessons may seem desirable and the pressures on events create demands for action, this does not always guarantee that the lessons can be applied in another policy domain or jurisdiction. Often the right lessons can be applied to the wrong institutional context,

Lesson Drawing 221 but the foundation of policy learning needs to be grounded in pragmatism of what works. For policy learning to succeed there must be space to introduce a new programme of action, resources committed to it, and clarification that any misunderstandings on lessons learnt must match existing beliefs and practices (or ideologies).

Politicians; civil servants; and, increasingly, academics with an interest in the impact of their research (author emphasis and italics) are concerned with practical solutions to immediate problems and they need to search for lessons and feasible ideas on policy problems across space and time. Usually they seek out new ways of addressing problems when there is current dissatisfaction with existing programmes of action. Rose makes the case for the significance of learning from experiences elsewhere, and the policy and academic value of studying how lessons can be drawn (Rose, 2004).

Much has been written in academic literature over the past 25 years on learning, lesson drawing and policy transfer, and the impacts may have been political, social or instrumental. Moreover, the importance of evidence-based policy making has waxed and waned from a policy and practical perspective, with varying degrees of success. In essence, despite some of the difficulties and constraints on learning from other jurisdictions, holding up a lens to identify solutions on research questions and practical problems can offer comparisons and new perspectives on policy issues such as the one to which this manuscript has been devoted; the ‘wicked’ and escalating problem of vulnerability. A contentious and contestable concept it could be regarded as one of the most significant policy issues of the early part of the 21st century, with no ready solutions. The topic lends itself to analysis and offers useful pointers for policy transfer, lesson drawing and learning in different jurisdictions. It is an important and growing topic of enquiry for the individuals and groups experiencing vulnerability; for policy makers seeking solutions to any consequences, for front-line professionals responding to vulnerable people, and, for wider society and the general safety of citizens. The rise in Vulnerability can be costly due to drain on already strained public finances, and on the time front-line professionals devote to the issue. Furthermore, the political and social consequences can be long term and detrimental to the social fabric of many communities and neighbourhoods.

In future there will be a greater need for research projects in this growing and important field of enquiry, if we are intent on filling gaps in current knowledge and understandings of transnational-local linkages, connections and consequences, but also to increase the knowledge base of some of the major, underlying and contested explanations of who the vulnerable individuals and groups in society are. We also need to interrogate the causes and consequences of a rise in Vulnerability, and more significantly address the issue from policy and practical perspectives. From a UK perspective and despite the 2019 General Election Party Political

Manifesto (December 2019) promises, it is clear that public expenditure cannot keep pace with the levels of demand being placed on public services. A rise in ‘wicked issues’, many that remain outside of state control, places considerable strain on service providersdeliverers. Furthermore, the constraints on public finances is not a wholly UK problem due the universal problems resulting from the hollowing out of state forms of delivering public services, and the need for stronger economic management. Greater citizen demands for action are severely testing current state capacities to deliver on vulnerability and other policy concerns.

At the outset when this edited collection was proposed, the overall aims were to:

  • • Locate the issue of ‘vulnerability’ into an international context, within public-sector reform processes, and to go beyond conceptualisation of existing concepts of policing and vulnerability (to include multi and intra-agency working)
  • • Examine the withdrawal of state forms of service delivery, and a policy shift from the collective/community to stigmatisation of the ‘individual’
  • • Identify and explain many competing, contestable and contradictory conceptualisations of the phenomenon of ‘vulnerability’
  • • Illustrate how a variety of agencies prioritise and operationalise the concept in practice
  • • Examine the growth in multi-partnership arrangements for responding to the vulnerability agenda. In particular we assess the inclusion of non-state forms of provision (business and third sector/ community and other agencies)
  • • Draw out policy and practice learning from comparative research and across multi-disciplinary professional boundaries, and identify key issues for further research
  • • Define a future research agenda for managing this important topic for the 21st century

Both editors are confident that the chapters, from each author perspective, have satisfied these aims and highlighted new areas for future research and enquiry, for professional practice and policy learning. Each chapter has enabled authors to specifically focus on different contexts for collecting empirical data, and to draw on diverse understandings of the concept. The European, international and cultural dimensions highlight the varied ways that vulnerability has been conceptualised and operationalised, and most contributions are set within a context of public-sector reform, and persistent delivery of public services through partnerships, collaborations and networked forms. However, the chapter on China, offers a useful contrast due to a wholly different approach

Lesson Drawing 223 to conceptualising vulnerability, and to demonstrating how the police respond to it.

From the beginning the editors wanted to offer overall guidance on structure and format, at the same time as allowing each author the autonomy for innovative thinking and reflection on existing multiple disciplinary theoretical and empirical approaches. In emphasising the need for understanding current, multiple types of research investigations, it was anticipated that many of the contested definitions of vulnerability from social policy, criminology, policing, public leadership and other perspectives would surface. A primary concern was identifying the potential for adapting approaches to dealing with vulnerability by altering current understandings. Limited theory or empirical work exists on this policy area, it is a very complex field of enquiry involving many stakeholders, multiple agencies, professional values, as well as crossing numerous academic, policy and professional boundaries.

Chapter contributions were deliberately drawn from combinatory empirical, theoretical, policy and practice fields and diverse academic and policy/professional authors. Editors and authors deliberately cast their nets widely to provide integrative scholarship, with contributions from international perspectives confirming the complexity, and how socio/cultural, political and historic antecedents shape the definitions and responses to vulnerability. Cross-national studies can aid understanding and empirical data has the potential to alter perceptions of the phenomena under enquiry. Many contributors set their chapter findings in public-sector reform processes and Western models of democracy and public service provision, by stressing the importance of state and non-state partnerships, collaborations and networks. Significantly it is evident that vulnerability is no longer just the preserve of either police of social work front-line professionals, and the withdrawal of solely state forms of delivery have emphasised and a policy shift from collective, community or societal responsibility to demonisation or stigmatisation of the ‘individual’. The Chinese case was refreshingly different from Western analyses, due mainly to the particular central system of authority, culturally embedded practices, and quite contrary definitions and understandings of what it means to be vulnerable.

In drawing out policy and practice learning from some comparative research, and across multi-disciplinary professional boundaries, the editors have been able to identify some key issues for further research, and the list that is shown at the rear of this concluding chapter will go some way towards developing a future research agenda for investigating this hitherto under-researched topic. First of all, as editors, we turn attention to some of the key findings and reflections drawn from each chapter in turn.

Theoretically, in Chapter 1 the authors (the editors) set the context for discussions in subsequent chapters by analysing literature onconceptualising, defining, analysing and understanding vulnerability as well as empirically examining the types of individuals and groups defined as vulnerable. Readers were introduced to many and varied definitions on a very contentious and politically charged concept. The articulation of a strong historical narrative of how different individuals and groups have been categorised as vulnerable from different professional, policy and academic perspectives, drew out antecedents of what it is to be considered as Vulnerable in 2020. The authors not only examined the importance of the topic for academic enquiry but also considered how policy makers and front-line professionals respond to a rise in vulnerable individuals and groups across society. The concept is certainly a slippery one, and shifts in understanding are dependent on specific contexts; who is attempting to define it; but more importantly, the choice of policies and decisions for implementation in response to this ‘wicked issue’; one that can result in many unintended consequences of policy action (or inaction). In the subsequent chapters each author (s) was encouraged to operationalise ‘Vulnerability’ in a variety of jurisdictions and specific contexts.

In Chapter 2 Murdock and Barber provide an excellent overview of the changes to public-sector service delivery and further contextualise the way that any discussion of vulnerability must be seen in terms of rapid reform of the state. The authors reinforce the point made earlier of a multitude of state and non-state providers of services in a period of austerity and squeezed finances. Their starting point is to suggest that public services exist to support the most vulnerable in society, and it is important to define what constitutes ‘public services’ prior to deciding how services could be delivered. They discuss ‘narrow’ and ‘broad’ interpretations that, on the one hand limit service delivery to only those mandated or legally obligated (such as police and fire services), or on the other hand involve a range of actors, not all formally engaged. The authors develop a refreshing notion of New Public Populism due to (what they perceive to be) inadequacies of earlier explanatory models of reform. Their re-appraisal of public service delivery goes way beyond earlier research and confirms many of the problems inherent in existing perspectives and theories. New Public Management (NPM), as an example, was modelled on private-sector ideals and became the dominant model to describe the management and delivery of public services in the 1980s onwards. Its theoretical foundations cannot be attributed to one single strand of thinking, instead, it was reaction and antidote to traditional public administration, and ideas underpinning NPM were influenced by a range of diverse writers and thinkers (Liddle, 2018). The term was used to describe the way of re-organising public-sector organisations to bring their management processes closer to business methods, but in the period following the 2008 financial crisis, Murdock and Barber concur with Liddle (2018) in arguing that NPM was an insufficiently robust

Lesson Drawing 225 explanation of service delivery. Nor indeed did it, or the later explanations of New Public Services and New Public Governance adequately account for the changing nature of state and non-state interactions as mechanisms for coping with vulnerability.

In asking the question ‘Who are public services for?’ and suggesting that market solutions are incapable of addressing welfare issues alone, the authors use three examples of New Public Populism to demonstrate how citizen discontentment poses challenges to existing top-down, professionally driven services. With social divisions and anti-elitism as driving forces to their thesis. They argue that citizens, including vulnerable groups reliant on welfare services, are ready to challenge traditional, or new service delivery mechanism based on outdated bureaucratic approaches and, instead readily take to the streets to voice their concerns. The era of populism requires a fresh appraisal of public services for the people who rely upon them most, but also deeper analysis of leaderless civil disobedience and localist ‘bottom up’, more contradictory solutions.

In Chapter 3 Liddle and Addidle (the editors) use Brexit and its potential aftermath to draw out some of the transnational and local linkages within security, criminal justice and policing (those with the potential to impact on levels of vulnerability). They argue for better understanding and targeting of resources on ‘left behind’ localities, those disproportionately affected during Brexit negotiations and future trade deals. Policing, security and criminal justice remain un-discussed and under-researched elements of Brexit, and for Liddle and Addidle, adopting a transnational lens can identify relationships and inter-connections across spatial levels, especially those with potential to detrimentally impact on vulnerable groups. Moreover, it is possible, they argue, to appreciate consequential agency responses to the problem.

Research is already developing on global shifts and impacts on local areas and their socio-economies, but more needs to be understood on the rise in terrorism, borderless crime, people trafficking, drug smuggling and other issues facing Police (and other emergency and Blue Light) Leaders as they cope with austerity, on top of a multitude of domestic policing and security issues. Under-investigation of new technology and an increase in cross border criminal activities impacting on local vulnerability levels has created a weak knowledge base and authors call for enhanced research in this area. Moreover, they argue, a need to understand embedded structural issues in former industrialised localities; how states and non-state agencies use institutional channels to broker cross border connectivity and partnership working; how communications and information is exchanged across national borders; and connecting transnational to local processes would all improve empirical data in the field.

A reduction in front-line service personnel dealing with vulnerable people in an era austerity and on-going Brexit negotiations, is happening at concurrently with increased hate and race crime, Islamophobia,

Anti-Semitism and cyber-crime. Other vulnerable groups, such as the homeless, rough sleepers, refugees and immigrants, are living in poverty and leading to larger numbers seeking assistance. The real financial consequences of Brexit are difficult to predict, so no one quite knows how Emergency and Blue Light services, and statutory social and welfare services, still reeling from budgets cuts, will fare in a post Brexit world. Furthermore, many essential services for vulnerable people depend heavily on foreign workers, but there is limited research on this aspect of vulnerability.

There are many challenges in identifying the multi-scalar (transnational, national, regional and local) impacts of Brexit on policing and other emergency services and responses to greater levels of Vulnerability, but no-one really knows the full extent of how many non-state, charitable, voluntary, church and other civic organisations are stepping in to support the vulnerable once the statutory agencies withdraw coverage. Table 12.1 indicates a selection of initiatives where faith-based and charity groups are taking over service provision from traditional public service providers (literally thousands of these organisations have sprung up since Prime Minister David Cameron’s (ultimately failed) Big Society initiative in 2010).

In Chapter 4, Brookes, a senior academic with many years of practical experience as a police commander, considers whether vulnerability is a collective/societal issue or the responsibility of the individual, who is increasingly blamed, demonised and stigmatised for the unfortunate positions they find themselves in. He uses examples from sex work (prostitution), modern slavery and youth extremism to demonstrate how each transcends the criminal justice system. He calls for all public leaders to collectively tackle the contextual social, political and economic determinants of vulnerability. In his view Public Leaders need to properly appreciate and frame the issue by looking beneath the problems for root causes, as well as mapping the historical contours of situations, based on a strong evidence base.

Brookes argues for vulnerability as a central element of community safety strategies, through a collective form of community-based leadership,because he believes that agency leaders have a duty of care to victims, and must solve these societal and ‘wicked issues’, with public interest and public value at the very core of all strategies and plans.

In Chapter 5, three separate professional and practice contributions are included from Emergency and Blue Light service personnel; those working at a strategic level, but also familiar with front-line service provision (Knox and Downs, Ambulance and McMillan, Police), together with a contribution from Murphy, an academic who provides consultancy for Fire and Rescue Services, who draws on long experience as a Senior Civil Servant and, also first responder in dealing with emergencies and crises across the East Midlands region of England. All writers

Table 12.1 Source: Authors’ own research findings

Some examples of charitable/faith based and third sector agencies plugging the gap in service

provision for vulnerable groups

Railway Mission

Pop up Prostitution, Buxton- Derby

Buzz Huddersfield

Clear Vision Research

Grenfell Tower Support Groups

Sutton Trust

St Giles Trust

Care B & B

NACRO & Groundwork Trust


Street Pastors in the Evening and Night time economy (teachers, vicars, off duty police officers and social workers)

Lesson Drawing 111

Provides Rail Pastors to support vulnerable

staff and passengers on rail services Police working with this body to identify

international people trafficking

Community charity set up by a Syrian Refugee

(former University Professor) to help vulnerable people use Bee keeping as a way of doing something valuable and reducing mental health issues

Set up by a black individual who was wrongly

convicted of an offence and found not guilty-helps to steer young black guys away from a life of crime

Community based/faith groups helping to

look after homeless after the disaster

Recent report on the inability of

disadvantaged and vulnerable teenagers getting into University

Vulnerable people being used as drugs

mules-they work with hospitals to identify children as young as 8 seeking a glamorous life as drug mules

Families paid £1000 to look after discharged

hospital patients (seen as an example of innovative public services)

Helps young, vulnerable ex-offenders to get

into employment through various initiatives

Connect with high risk groups, also formal

and informal partnerships/MOIs with, for example police, probation and prison education services, NHS Mental Health Trusts, Universities, and Rail authorities to deal with a variety of vulnerable people e.g. after a tragedy such as Manchester Arena, Grenfell, suicidal students, people throwing themselves under trains, vulnerable prisoners or mental health patients

Keeping vulnerable people safe in city centres. They receive a small grant per annum from local authorities, to reduce the case load of the statutory agencies such as police

and social workers by working across city centres caring for vulnerable people. They also work with nationally organised charities such as Age Concern, Mental Health Charities to deal with increased demands from homeless people, drug users, and isolated peopleprovide a different dimension on the role of front-line professionals in day-to-day dealings with vulnerable groups and individuals, but each addresses the European and national policy imperatives on how Blue Light and Emergency service agencies prioritise and operationalise responses to the ‘wicked issue’ of vulnerability, within given statutory requirements and available resources.

Each service has experienced a rise in the numbers of vulnerable people seeking assistance, and all three use a different mechanism for categorisation. They do this in the interest of providing the best support for individual safeguarding, risk or potential harm and to highlight any perceived welfare concerns. At the forefront of their thinking, whether adopting a Triage process (Ambulance), the THRIVE list provided by the College of Policing (Police), or Risk Assessment (Fire and Rescue), all services are continually making choices on whether callers have a health, criminal or fire and safety issue of concern. Additionally, Fire and Rescue Services have a duty to achieve risk reduction and prevention. As all the services featured here work with other statutory and non-statutory agencies in collaboration and partnership, a decision must be made on whether to deal immediately with any issue if its within their line of responsibility, or whether it warrants referral to other welfare services. Interestingly, all services recognised how under-represented they are in relation to minority and ethnic groups, and all are making efforts to recruit and train personnel more reflective of the populations that their activities are affect.

Brown and Cook, both senior practitioners with years of experience in social work academic and practice worlds, consider in Chapter 6, the changing nature of professional roles as they too respond to escalation in the numbers of vulnerable people. Their core message is the need for more comparative research on front-line service deliverers who daily confront vulnerable individuals. These professional groups are experiencing higher levels of stress related illness and absenteeism, in comparison with other professional groups. According to these authors, excessive working hours, low staff coverage, poor support mechanisms lead to a negative work/life balance, with many professionals experiencing mental health difficulties, so as a group they are as ‘vulnerable’ as the vulnerable individuals and client groups they joined their respective professions to support.

Central Government recently acknowledged how vulnerable and exposed some front-line emergency service professionals were, and this included police officers, fire and rescue workers, prisons and National Health Service personnel but social workers who are also exposed to daily risks and dangerous situations were omitted from this timely legislation. Brown and Cook therefore argue for more research on the day-to-day hostile, risky and dangerous experiences of social workers, and for more understanding of training and practice needs of these groups. In support of this, and to reduce the stress levels, anxiety, poor

Lesson Drawing 229 mental health, staff turnover and ultimate burnout, the authors have developed a very useful Vulnerability Map to assess, and unpick the dynamic elements of very specific organisational accountability, workload, emotional and threat contexts that impact on the daily practices of social workers. They suggest that this group occupies a unique position at the interface between the organisation’s legislative function and the needs of service users; they continuously respond to a variety of stakeholders, as various threats and forces impact on their activities. They urge new thinking on complex social work activities and delivery mechanisms.

Phippen and Bond in Chapter 7 examine the concept of ‘vulnerability’ in a new digital world of social media, and their findings show how abuse traditionally occurred in face to face encounters or in written form, but the advent of social media has questioned our views on geographical boundaries on space and situations, on who is now vulnerable, and where vulnerability can be seen. Abuse and therefore a rise in vulnerable individuals can literally take place anywhere in the world now, and the anonymity afforded by the web allows abusers to access potentially millions of vulnerable people through a multitude of personas.

They show how online targeting of vulnerable people has challenged criminological norms but failed these individuals, because those responsible for safeguarding don’t fully understand the changing wider context in which abuse occurs. Policy documentation and statistics are used to support evidence based on the increased use of a range of social media within cyberspace and illustrate that rapidly changing technological landscapes have blurred boundaries between public and private spheres and dramatically altered the contours of risk in relation to self-identity in late modern society.

Virtual space is a very real concern as vulnerable people experience abuse, victimisation and online crimes, identity theft, online scams, image-based abuse, fear of being stalked and harassment online are on the increase. Therefore, Phippen and Bond argue that our understanding of risk has changed in late modern society, from being focussed on natural hazards to becoming unintended consequences of modernisation itself. Digital technology, according to these authors, redefines the nature of vulnerability, and the Internet has reshaped the environment where anyone can now be vulnerable. They make a plea for government to appreciate the need for challenging abusive and complex social behaviour, because technological interventions alone cannot solve this policy problem. To protect victims from online abuse, a variety of stakeholders and their relationships need to be put under the spotlight; without this fundamental challenge neither the criminal justice system nor any new legislation can protect vulnerable individuals online. The reach of abusers is now extended, and anonymously hidden from view. The consequences for victims demand human behaviours and responses, rather than inadequate technological fixes.

In Chapter 8 X Jian Xu author (an academic with long and senior experience as a police officer and trainer in the Chinese Police) changes the focus towards an international dimension of vulnerability in a different jurisdiction and political system. Theoretically he adopts the lens of Street Level Bureaucrats to frame the research design and analyse illuminating, comparative case findings. In exploring the daily interactions of Chinese police officers with citizens he shows how much personal discretion police officers have in adapting tailored responses, executing activities and developing different routinised procedures. Xu explains that on the surface, it may appear not dissimilar to Western social and legal contexts because the way vulnerable individuals and groups are treated is very much conditioned by deeply embedded cultural and political factors. However, within a political system of centralised authority and under-developed legal standardisation, vulnerability is treated much differently in a Chinese context.

Xu examines how SLBs operate in China in conceptual terms, and how certain Chinese officials at local level deal with protesting groups on a more practical level. Drawing on data from two illuminating cases, he investigates the culturally embedded practice of “relational repression”, which in essence is a psychological engineering approach adopted by Chinese frontline officials for policing vulnerable populations and maintaining social control. Police use a variety of social and relational tools but the primary means to maintain control is by imposing constraints on the poor and vulnerable, rather than through the formal criminal justice system typified in most of the western contexts. Weak legal and political institutions enable police and other authorities to use flourishing ‘power-interest networks’ and ‘personal and social ties’ to facilitate order. The police were able to effectively capitalise on existing culturally grounded personal ties, as these social norms ensure social order and maintaining control.

Fitzgerald and Hagos, in Chapter 9, show how asylum seekers and refugees in pursuit of a safe haven have been dealt with by successive UK governments With the use of up to date narratives, the authors use the voices and experiences of vulnerable individuals on arrival in the country, to examine how immigration policy rules have created categories of the ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’, though for a short period they noted that some EU workers were welcomed to serve economic purposes. People at perhaps the most vulnerable point in their lives largely experienced a hostile, complicated and difficult journey to safety, as many faced detention, destitution, health issues and potential slave labour.

A culmination of the consequences of the 2008 economic crisis, on-going austerity and Brexit may have exacerbated problems experienced by asylum seekers and refugees, though Fitzgerald and Hagos did find evidence of direct action and activism. They found many who became key activists and community leaders within and beyond their own

Lesson Drawing 231 communities, and on a positive note, despite some of the still unknown effects of Brexit, new social movements and campaigns have sprung into action, and brought vulnerable people ‘out of the shadows’ into public life, thereby overturning the perception of victimhood.

In Chapter 10 Murdock provides a reality check on the issue of ageing and elderly. He challenges the perceived wisdom of this demographic as a ‘problem’ or as ‘vulnerable’ because in many, if not most, developed countries there is a widely reported view of increased demands on public services. Too often the elderly were designated as vulnerable, and this has significantly shaped public policy debates. Recently these have focussed on whether or not public resources are sufficient to meet the perceived needs of an ageing demographic.

The author makes a convincing argument that the elderly should be seen as an ‘opportunity’ rather than a ‘challenge’. He asserts that the elderly should not always be treated as ‘vulnerable’ members of society, though he does acknowledge that some are. Rather he examines ‘active ageing’, ‘positive ageing’ and identifies a series of lifestyle trends (lifelong learning; University of the third Age, redefining retirement; use of technology, and lifestyle choices) that he thinks demands a radical restructuring of publicsector policies for this older demographic, and calls for a more societal perception of the positives rather than negative aspects of ageing.

Hunter and co-authors in Chapter 11 change the focus again by concentrating on the ‘voices’ and ‘narratives’ of three female individuals; all have experienced first-hand what it feels like to be defined as ‘vulnerable’ and exposure to long periods within the social care system. Three contributors provide life histories of their individual trajectories towards re-entering society after experiencing varied institutional histories, and Hunter, an experienced social worker, offers useful commentaries throughout, and valuable recommendations for social work training and education.

Hunter refers to the large and increasing numbers of children in care in the UK as a silent crisis and offers some thoughts on why this might be the case. Importantly she suggests that insufficient support for children in care and those leaving care lead unsurprisingly to poor overall outcomes. Many children who are in or leave the care system experience mental health difficulties, poor educational outcomes, homelessness and suicide, and they are more likely to go to prison than university. She arrives at a series of recommendations that could be usefully adopted in training and educating social workers and front-line providers. In no order of importance she highlights the need for training on dealing with trauma; how to help vulnerable individuals navigate services on offer; the nature of attachment relationships; the impacts of early childhood experiences, how care leavers can find accommodation; and finally helping carers to understand unfair judgements and stigmatisation exemplify the experience of being in, or leaving the care system.

Hunter makes a heartfelt plea for more understanding and cooperation on the part of professionals and the general public to stress the strengths of children who have grown up in care; many, she argues fully understand their own particular needs, and large numbers have overcome sever adversity to make a success of their lives, as demonstrated by the three life stories she presented.

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