A study of the implementation of the new Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) guidance in Wales


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 questions. 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 are currently testing our Initial Programme Theory.

We are adopting a realist approach to the study, informed by literature on implementation science. This allows 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 affect how a new policy is implemented in practice. We are carrying out this research in three Local Authorities in Wales and are also working with Barnardo’s on this study.


This project is in progress. We have developed our final programme theory and are currently developing the final report, due to be completed in early 2023.

We have one paper published in a peer review journal and another that is currently being peer reviewed. We are working on a third paper outlining our final programme theory.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorDr Clive Diaz

Academic Staff

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