Practitioners' Experiences and Perceptions of Investigating Allegations of Institutional Abuse

Barter, Christine orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5682-5333 (1999) Practitioners' Experiences and Perceptions of Investigating Allegations of Institutional Abuse. Child Abuse Review, 8 (6). pp. 392-404. ISSN 0952-9136

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This article is based upon an exploratory study of practitioners' experiences of investigating allegations of institutional child abuse (Barter, 1998). The research involved interviewing all NSPCC child protection practitioners and managers in England or Wales who had been involved in an investigation between 1994 and 1996. Overall, 41 interviews were undertaken and details from 36 investigation reports were analysed. The research found that many professionals perceived these kinds of investigations as being particularly difficult and problematic, especially in respect to maintaining independence, determining the remit and scope of inquiry and ensuring the provision of adequate and appropriate support. The lack of agreed guidelines and protocols, particularly in relation to post-substantiation procedures, made these investigations especially challenging. In addition, participants also identified a range of factors that differentiated these forms of investigations from intra-familial ones, including discretion in child-rearing practices, the irrelevance of mitigating circumstances and the extent of administrative culpability. A number of tentative recommendations based on the research findings are presented which seek to ensure that investigations are undertaken in the most sensitive and appropriate manner possible

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