We are seeking to understand the facilitators and barriers to effective child protection policy implementation by looking in depth at how the new Welsh Government child sexual exploitation (CSE) guidance is implemented in practice.  


The central purpose of the study is to gain an understanding of how the new Welsh Government Child Sexual Exploitation guidance is understood and implemented in practice by social workers and key professionals.

To date there has been very little research carried out either in Wales or elsewhere in the UK as to how child protection policies are implemented in practice. Proctor, who has carried out studies in North America on child protection policy implementation, argues that the greatest impediment to high quality evidence based practice is the limited research and knowledge relating to policy implementation (Proctor 2012).
The new draft Welsh Government CSE guidance sets out a clear framework for improving practice with young people at risk of CSE in Wales. This study is designed to test the new framework by posing the following research questions:

  • Is the new policy for young people at risk of CSE being implemented in practice in Wales in the way in which was outlined in the guidance?
  • What are the key enablers and barriers influencing whether the guidance improves practice with young people at risk of CSE.

Activities and Methods

The research design is a mixed methods realist evaluation bringing together qualitative and quantitative data to answer the research question. There are three key strands to the project: Initial Programme theory development, testing of the Initial Programme Theory, and extended engagement and dissemination to create research impact.
We will adopt an implementation science approach to the study using a realist approach. This will allow us to consider contextual factors which impact on how the new policy is implemented in different Local Authorities and how these hinder or assist effective implementation. The implementation of new policies is highly complex and a variety of factors wil affect how a new policy is implemented in practice. We will carry out this research in three Local Authorities in Wales and we will also be working with Barnardo’s on this study.


This research is ongoing.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorDr Clive Diaz

Academic Staff

Principal Co-investigatorProfessor Donald Forrester
Co-investigatorDr Sarah Brand
Related SchoolsSchool of Social Sciences Cardiff University
Related partnersBarnardos Wales
FundersHealth and Care Research Wales