Leading experts discuss future of safeguarding

Published: 14 June 2022 at 15:10

A hand typing on a keyboard

ARU’s PIER22 conference focuses on child protection and online child abuse

Academics from a leading UK research institute for policing and public protection have brought together key voices in safeguarding to discuss the way forward, following the publication of major reviews into child protection and the highest ever reported levels of online child abuse. 

At the annual conference of Anglia Ruskin University’s Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) held from 14-15 June, academics, public protection practitioners, government representatives and senior policing leaders are discussing the challenges of improving the response to child abuse, the global threat facing children online, and how partners must work better together to respond.

The PIER22 conference brings together speakers involved in leading and overseeing national child protection reviews in one event for the first time, including Josh MacAlister, Chair of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, and John O'Brien, Secretary to the Inquiry, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, is also providing an update on the national picture.

These key representatives, and others such as DCC Ian Critchley, NPCC Lead for Child Protection, and Chair of PIER, Simon Bailey, will discuss ‘the case for change’, considering findings from reviews into the abuse and murders of Star Hobson and Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, and ‘what good looks like’ when it comes to safeguarding. 

A second major focus for the two-day event is the rising threat of online child abuse. Recent data shared by the WeProtect Global Alliance revealed that 1 in 3 respondents to a global survey had been asked to do something sexually explicit online during childhood and that in the past two years, the reporting of child sexual exploitation and abuse online has reached its highest levels. 

Speakers on this topic include Tom Farrell of SafeToNet and Professor Sam Lundrigan of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). PIER and SafeToNet are partnering on the development and implementation of technology that aims to prevent the proliferation of self-generated child sexual abuse material.

The former NPCC Lead for Child Protection and Chair of PIER at ARU, Simon Bailey, said:

“PIER22 is all about discussing the urgent need to come together to do better in protecting children.

“We have major areas to address when it comes to the learning shared through the Care Review and the findings of IICSA, and in responding to the global crisis we face in online child abuse.

“We have the commitment, the expertise and the combined determination to do just this, but we need to think of new ways to respond in partnership, such as using research and technology to understand the threat of online child abuse and exploitation, and in re-thinking our approach to sex education to build this narrative into early education.

“Alongside this, we simply must get our processes right to safeguard those at risk, taking real steps forward when we learn from the most tragic of circumstances. We need to put the voice of the victim at the heart of everything we do and become the voice for those who cannot ask for help.”


Presentations from the PIER22 conference will be available to view on the ARU YouTube channel following the event.