Photo of Cassandra Harrison

Cassandra Harrison


Cassi is the Director of the Centre of expertise. She has held a range of strategy, policy and public affairs positions during her career, with a focus for the last six years on children and young people, working closely on issues such as safeguarding and looked after children. Her roles have included leading children’s social care policy for the Local Government Association and child sexual exploitation policy and strategy for Barnardo’s. More recently, she led the Barnardo’s policy, research, campaigns and public affairs functions, covering diverse subjects including early years, welfare reform and harmful sexual behaviour.

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Dr Sophie Laws

Deputy Director, Research & Evaluation

Sophie has extensive experience as a research/evaluation manager and practitioner at Barnardo’s, Coram, Save the Children, in the NHS and as a consultant. She has in-depth knowledge of issues that matter for vulnerable children and young people. Child sexual exploitation was a key priority area during her three years at Barnardo’s. Author of Research for Development: a practical guide (Sage, second edition 2013), described by Oxfam as ‘undoubtedly the best guide to its subject we have’. She has led both Barnardo’s and Coram’s Research Ethics Committees, and wrote a guide to children’s ethical and meaningful participation in research for the UN Study on Violence against Children.

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Dr Gregory Hall

Deputy Director, Knowledge & Practice Development

Gregory’s experience combines service development, management and frontline social work practice (including extensive direct work with vulnerable young people). He has led professional development and practice research projects at a national level, including original research into knowledge and practice development (with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)). His recent roles have included supporting the response to a child sexual abuse inquiry in a British Overseas Territory, and overseeing social work practice with families impacted by trauma after natural disasters. Most recently, he helped the Queensland Government to improve its support for young children exposed to domestic violence.

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Tim Leeson

Deputy Director – Partnering for Improvement

Prior to taking this position Tim was attached to the College of Policing as the National Co-ordinator for the National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Action Plan, working directly to Chief Constable Simon Bailey (Norfolk) in his capacity as the National Portfolio Lead for Child Protection, Abuse & Investigation (CPAI). Tim was responsible for delivery of the National CSE Action Plan to all 43 England & Wales police forces, and to the London Metropolitan, City of London and British Transport Police. Tim remains an Associate with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
With 30 year’s experience with Lancashire Constabulary, Tim has expertise as a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) with the Force Major Investigation Team, as a Regional Senior Identification Manager (SIM), and was responsible for leading the de-brief of the survivors of the Morecambe Bay Cockle Picker Disaster in 2004. As Operations Manager for the Force Serious and Organised Crime Unit and as Head of Crime at both Blackpool and Preston Divisions, Tim has gained an extensive background in neighbourhood policing, serious and organised crime, partnerships, safeguarding, protective services, reviews and inspections.
In addition Tim has worked as a Detective Superintendent with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary where he was part of a team assessing and inspecting the 43 England & Wales police forces, reporting findings publicly, providing advice to police forces and police and crime commissioners and has influenced the development of policing by disseminating good practice.

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Viki Calais

Assistant Director – Business Support

Viki looks after the smooth running of the operations of the Centre, ensuring activities run properly and to plan, and there is good stewardship over its resources. She has previously worked in back office roles in a legal services regulator, local government authorities, and the police service.

Other roles

Recruitment for additional roles, listed below, is in its final stages and people will be added here as they are confirmed.

  • Policy Adviser