The CSA Centre was funded by the Home Office and launched in early 2017 and has been evaluated throughout the initial grant period from launch until March 2020. Having received a further grant for 2020-21 from the Home Office, the CSA Centre continues to work towards its goal of reducing the threat and harm of child sexual abuse.
The evaluation was conducted by a partnership of Research in Practice and the University of Bedfordshire and was guided by a theory of change, which identifies six primary ‘chains’ of activity which make up this model:
Final evaluation report
Karen Allen, Sue Botcherby, Isabelle Brodie, Dez Holmes, Oli Preston and Lorna Trend
This final report brings together the evidence from all stages of the evaluation. The evidence sources for this evaluation include annual surveys of public stakeholders and CSA Centre staff; feedback from events; interviews with staff, partners, and stakeholders; an analysis of documents produced by the CSA Centre; and additional evidence submitted to the evaluation team. The report also has a specific focus on three case studies to explore the CSA Centre's activity in greater depth.
The report concludes that since 2017, the CSA Centre has established itself as a hub of balanced, independent, and trusted evidence related to child sexual abuse, representing a range of expertise from academia and practice. The CSA Centre was set an ambitious and broad remit, ranging from influencing policy at a strategic level through to practice development. Child sexual abuse is itself a broad and complex issue, involving multiple stakeholders and an ever evolving sector landscape. The report notes that it is therefore of credit to the CSA Centre that it has made demonstrable progress against its aims with a complex and far-reaching work programme.
“It is important to take a long-term view of the CSA Centre, its achievements over the past two and a half years, and to look forward at how the response to CSA can be further progressed. Importantly, developing a position of ‘expertise’ whereby the CSA Centre has been able to carry out, commission and collate evidence has taken considerable time and investment. The resulting body of objective, high-quality, independent and freely-accessible evidence has placed the CSA Centre in a position to deliver a large programme of work to directly benefit practice, as well as informing strategy and policy at an organisational, local, regional, and national level.
However, this approach continues to be refined by the CSA Centre, and there are still areas of practice and policy to develop. Furthermore, the context is constantly changing, and will change further still as the CSA Centre’s (and others’) work on the collection and availability of data progresses. The CSA Centre’s approach has, thus far, been free-to-access for practitioners and organisations and the positive responses of stakeholders may be partially linked to this additional capacity and resource. Importantly, the CSA Centre represents a national investment in a joined-up response to CSA as a national issue … going forward, there are clear considerations to be made regarding how funders protect the legacy of this investment, and build upon the CSA Centre’s public-serving, independent and multi-faceted approach to reducing the threat, harm and impact of child sexual abuse.”
- The CSA Centre has made a significant contribution to understanding of the scale of CSA through a programme of work including new analyses of available data, collating statistics from multiple sources, commissioning new research, developing frameworks and tools to support improved data collection, and through engaging with stakeholders who might further enable data collection in this area.
- The CSA Centre has clearly managed to engage a wide range of stakeholders, and has generated very positive feedback from those engaging with its support offer.
- The CSA Centre has contributed to a cultural shift in the understanding of CSA, helping to ensure that child sexual exploitation (CSE) is recognised as a form of sexual abuse and does not eclipse the issue of CSA more broadly.
- The CSA Centre has generated a large body of close to 40 publications, with a range of audiences in mind. These include practice tools, effectiveness studies, and key messages from research, distilling evidence into a concise format.
- Across their work, the CSA Centre has been able to promote a balanced, independent view of CSA and has been guided by multiple engagement events and prioritisation surveys.
- The Practice Improvement Advisors (PIAs), practice-area experts employed by the CSA Centre, have been able to engage a large number of practitioners across events (reportedly over 3000 professionals through a range of events), through training, and in more informal interactions. The PIAs have been both the champions of evidence generated by the CSA Centre, as well as being able to relay evidence from their specific areas of practice into outputs.
- Early activities informed outputs for the benefit of the wider sector to support better monitoring and evaluation of CSA services, merging with the wider CSA Centre aims to improve data about CSA – both in terms of scale and nature, and the effective interventions to reduce the threat and harm.
- As with other work by the CSA Centre (such as the CSA data collection template), the typology of CSA offending offers a centralised approach, delivered by a trusted independent organisation, bringing together expertise from policy and practice to ultimately improve responses to CSA.
- Much of the CSA Centre’s policy influencing work has not been visible publicly; however the evaluation has seen evidence of the CSA Centre’s impact across a range of key documents, including inspection and commissioning frameworks, internal policies, and the government draft CSA Strategy.
- In Wales, the CSA Centre has built strong, positive relationships with senior policy makers, enabling a two-way relationship which incorporates the Welsh context in the CSA Centre’s outputs, as well as enabling the CSA Centre to influence Welsh policy and response to CSA (such as via the Welsh Government National CSA Action Plan).