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Louise Smith

Louise is the current Chair for our Advisory Board and Senior Adviser on Children’s Social Care for the Local Government Association. Louise works closely with local authorities and their partners to support, promote and improve children’s services, while working with central government to ensure the voice of local government is heard in national policy making.

Louise has more than ten years’ experience working for local government, including a range of roles across policy and communications at both local and national levels.

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Zlakha Ahmed MBE

Zlakha Ahmed founded and is currently the CEO of Apna Haq, a survivor-led organisation that supports black and minority ethnic (BME) women and girls in Rotherham, South Yorkshire who are experiencing any form of violence. She has over 30 years of experience developing and overseeing violence against women support services at a local level, while influencing strategy, policy and procedure at a regional, national, European and global level.

Zlakha specialises in community development work with women and girls from BME communities. She was awarded an MBE for services to women’s rights & community cohesion in 2016. She was one of the NICE (National Institute Of Clinical Excellence) committee members who developed the NICE Domestic Violence standards. Zlakha is currently a board member for National Women’s Aid, Just Yorkshire (a human rights civil liberties organisation) and WeRise (a Muslim Women’s empowerment initiative).

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Caroline Clunies-Ross

Caroline Clunies-Ross is a Principal Clinical Psychologist. She qualified as a Clinical Psychologist in 1992, but is also a trained Family Therapist, registered Cognitive-Behavioural Psychotherapist and a Clinical Supervisor. Her career to-date spans across the NHS, most prevalently in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), but also in Primary Care and within a Secure Children's Home.

In 2010 Caroline became Clinical Lead of a specialist CAMHS team working with children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse and assault, focussing on the impact on both the individual and the family. She has trained with the US developers of Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is reported to be the best-evidenced intervention for children and young people with post-traumatic stress disorder (Cohen, Mannarino, and Deblinger) and recommended by NICE for PTSD following sexual trauma. Caroline is the recognised UK trainer and consultant for TF-CBT.

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Detective Inspector Catherine Cox

Detective Inspector Catherine Cox is staff officer for the National Police Chief’s Council Child Protection and Abuse Investigations Working Group, led by Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley. The group covers all aspects of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation across policing.

Catherine has been a police officer for 12 years and in the last decade has worked as a detective, primarily in roles protecting vulnerable people, such as: domestic abuse, child protection, sexual offences and public protection. She has worked on high profile child protection matters such as Alfie Evans, with national organisations on improving safeguarding policy, improving our approach to child protection in organised crime and managing child protection and sexual offences teams in Liverpool. Catherine is really passionate about her job and the opportunity to help improve outcomes for vulnerable children.

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Anna Edmundson

Anna Edmundson is Head of Policy and Public Affairs at NSPCC, leading the charity’s policy and public affairs strategy across all aspects of child abuse and neglect in the UK; directly influencing parliament and policy makers, to ensure the NSPCC’s policy calls are sound and convert into real change to protect children from abuse.

Anna is a qualified barrister with over twenty years’ experience of developing and leading high-performing policy teams in children’s and human rights organisations, which have changed the law and policy around criminal justice, policing, mental health, children’s rights and child protection. 

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Laura Gough

Laura Gough is Head of Service for Safeguarding, Quality and Learning, in CYPS at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. She has been a children’s safeguarding social worker for over 20 years, with experience in all areas of local authority statutory safeguarding children’s social work, and over ten years in leadership including Service Manager, Principal Social Worker and Head of Service. 

During her career Laura has developed and led practice improvement programs for Local Authority and supported partner agencies, written local procedures and contributed to national policy changes, and supported national bodies in safeguarding vulnerable children. This includes leading the local aspect of the national pilot for supporting the wellbeing of children in care in conjunction with the Anna Freud organisation and the DfE. Her particular interests include safeguarding vulnerable groups and ensuring that the voices of children are listened to and they have the opportunity to participate in developing services that are provide to them.

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Prof Simon Hackett

Simon Hackett is Professor of Applied Social Sciences and Principal of St Mary’s College, Durham University. He has been involved in the field of safeguarding for 25 years as a practitioner, manager and researcher.

He has written extensively on professional practice with children and families, professional assessment and decision making, adoption of children, and particularly on the subject of child sexual abuse, harmful sexual behaviour in childhood and sexual offending. His recent research includes a large randomised control trial of interventions for children who have been sexually abused, with Professor John Carpenter of the University of Bristol. Simon is Chair of the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers (NOTA) which is a national child protection charity working to prevent sexual abuse by improving responses to adults who have sexually offended or children who have displayed harmful sexual behaviours. Simon is the author of five books and a wide variety of other book chapters and journal articles, including the recent book ‘Children and Young People with Harmful Sexual Behaviours’ published in 2014 by Research In Practice.

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Prof Todd E Hogue

Professor Hogue is a registered Forensic and Clinical Psychologist. He started his career in the British Prison Service working mainly with sexual offenders.

He organised the original national staff training for the implementation of the SOTP programme in the UK. He worked in a community treatment programme for sexual offenders and a secure residential setting for adolescents before moving to Rampton Secure Hospital where he developed specialist services for individuals with a personality disorder. Initially this was through leading the psychology input into developing a specialist Personality Disorder Service and then as Lead Psychologist on the Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder (DSPD) and the development of the Peaks (DSPD) Unit at Rampton Hospital. In 2006 he moved to an academic role as Professor of Forensic Psychology at the University of Lincoln and is currently Programme Lead for the MSc in Forensic Psychology.

Most of his career has been in applied practice and his main research interests are focused on practice based issues. His PhD research focused on the development of a self-report measure of denial in sexual offenders. During the early SOTP training he became interested in staff attitudes and developed the Attitudes Towards Sexual Offenders (ATS) scale which is still actively being used. His current main areas of research are:

  • attitudes towards sexual offenders and the extent to which attitudes impact on risk perception, clinical judgement and social policy,
  • the development of new methods of measuring sexual interest / deviant interest using implicit methodologies such as eye-tracking and touch technologies and
  • evaluating the effect of applied practice initiatives on offender care and reoffending.
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Professor Liz Kelly

Professor Liz Kelly is a professor of sexualised violence and she is also director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) and holds the Roddick Chair on Violence Against Women.

Liz has been active in the field of violence against women and children for 40 years. She is the author of Surviving Sexual Violence, which established the concept of a 'continuum of violence' and over 100 book chapters and journal articles. In 2000, Liz was awarded a CBE in the New Years Honours List for 'services combating violence against women and children'. As a result of her important work in the field, in January 2005 Liz was appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Women's National Commission.

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Sonia Mahay

Sonia Mahay is the Service Manager for the Safeguarding and Exploitation service at the City of Wolverhampton Council. She is a qualified social worker with over ten years’ experience in the statutory and voluntary sector. During this time, she has occupied various roles including Support Worker, Social Worker, Team Manager, Principle Social Worker and Service Manager.

Sonia is passionate about social work. Valuing people, diversity and achieving positive outcomes for children and families is at the core of her practice.

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Daksha Mistry

Daksha Mistry is Learning & Development Manager for Kingston and Richmond Safeguarding Children Partnership. She is a skilled children’s safeguarding professional, trainer, and strategic manager with over 30 years’ experience working within children’s social care. 

During the course of her career, she has worked both at a national level as a director at Reconstruct (a safeguarding training company) and as a skilled trainer and facilitator, working with partner agencies to develop multi agency relationships and safeguarding practice, policy & procedures. Daksha has significant experience in the development and delivery of sexual abuse training, including directly working with survivors of sexual abuse and working with multi agency partners to develop good practice.  As a woman of Indian heritage, she has specialised in working with minority communities to raise awareness about child sexual abuse.

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Jan Pickles OBE

Jan Pickles is an experienced social worker and has worked in the third sector, the probation service, the police, government and the NSPCC. Jan is a member of the National Independent Safeguarding Board of Wales and a  non-executive Director for an NHS Trust.

Jan led the development of the multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC), which makes adults and children who experience domestic and sexual violence and abuse safer. In 2015, Jan led a large scale DfE Improvement Programme on Serious Case Reviews. While Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner for South Wales Police, she also lead a review of CSE,

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Sharon Stratton

Sharon Stratton is the Policing Standards Manager for Vulnerability and Public Protection for the College of Policing, specialising in areas including rape, domestic violence, child sexual exploitation and abuse, stalking, trafficking, managing offenders, etc.

Working closely with the National Policing leads, the Home Office and service providers for public protection, she is responsible for developing effective training, professional standards and the evidence base for all UK policing relating to public protection matters.

She is a retired Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer. During her 31 years service, mostly as a detective, she specialised for many years both operationally and strategically in public protection matters predominantly domestic abuse, child protection, honour based violence, stalking and sexual offending. She has spoken at many UK and international conferences on the UK policing response to public protection matters and delivered training on related matters across a variety of agencies.

She was part of the ‘Expert Panel’ convened to develop the DASH risk model and sits on the Home Office Quality Assurance panel for Domestic Homicide review.

She is co-author of a book entitled ‘Policing Domestic Violence’ published by Oxford University Press in November 2008 (under revision) and wrote a commentary for the ‘Handbook of Sexual Violence’ Routledge, 2011. She recently received an award at the College Domestic Abuse Champions Event, for her work in domestic homicide prevention.

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Prof Julie Taylor

Julie Taylor [PhD; FRCN; RN; MSc; BSc (Hons)] is a nurse scientist specialising in child maltreatment. She is Professor of Child Protection in the School of Nursing at the University of Birmingham, in partnership with Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Julie’s work is at the leading edge nationally and internationally in reframing child maltreatment as a public health concern. Her research programme is concentrated at the interface between health and social care and is largely underpinned by the discourse of cumulative harm and the exponential effects of living with multiple adversities.

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Dianne Whitfield

Dianne Whitfield is the Co-Chair of Rape Crisis England and Wales (RCEW), and is the Chief Officer of Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) which is one of the largest Rape Crisis centres in the country. She also sits as a Non-Executive Director on Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust.

Previously Dianne worked with a range of public sector organisations including working for a number of years as a management consultant specialising with working with NHS organisations and its strategic partners before training as a gestalt therapist and joining the sexual violence specialist voluntary sector. Dianne has worked for a substantial period in the field of sexual violence, in a variety of different roles, and has significant experience of working at a strategic level, having advised national organisations such as the IPCC and participating on national groups such as the All Part Parliamentary Group on Sexual Violence, and the National CPS/ACPO Scrutiny Groups as RCEW’s representative.

Dianne continues to work as a Gestalt therapist with survivors and victims of sexual violence including child sexual abuse.

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Rebecca Wilshire

Rebecca Wilshire is the Strategic Lead for Help and Protection at Coventry City Council covering Early Help, Family Hubs, MASH, EDT, and Area Social Work Teams which cover all CIN, CP and court work, Child Exploitation Team and Youth Offending Service.   

Rebecca is a qualified social worker and has over 22 years experience working within children services, and leading children’s social care teams, as well as  undertaking peer reviews. Rebecca is passionate about families rights, and building services which are based on good practice with children and their families and ensuring the family is held at the centre of all practice.