Dr Debra Allnock

Associate Professor

Debra Allnock

I have a very active research background spanning nearly 25 years within both the United States and the United Kingdom.

In the UK, I have developed specialist expertise in the area of child protection/ safeguarding and child maltreatment, with particular emphasis on child sexual abuse / exploitation and policing responses to vulnerability.

I joined the Safer Young Lives Research Centre in January 2015 and have worked on a variety of research and knowledge dissemination projects related to child sexual abuse and exploitation, related vulnerabilities and policing. I am currently seconded 4 days a week as Head of Research and Review with the Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme, a national policing programme coordinating and improving the policing response to vulnerability. For my substantive time at the SYLRC, I work on a variety of research projects and provide interim senior leadership support to the Centre.

My previous employment in the UK includes the National Evaluation of Sure Start followed by the NSPCC, carrying out a range of projects in the field of sexual abuse and violence. Across all of this work, I have developed excellent research skills in a range of quantitative and qualitative and mixed-methods research, including literature reviews, evaluation, online data collection methods and in-depth interviews on highly sensitive topics.

I am active in publishing and attending and presenting at conferences. I am also involved in delivering practice-oriented, applied workshops with practitioners including the police and social care professionals.

I have been active in teaching at the University of Bedfordshire, previously as a lecturer in Child Protection and Social Research Methods, and coordinated the child sexual exploitation short course. I am Deputy Chair of the Research Institute Ethics Panel, providing strategic support and guidance to the Director.


  • PG Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (October 2017)
  • PhD - University of Bristol, United Kingdom (January 2015)
  • MA Sociology - University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (August 1997)
  • BA Sociology - University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (June 1995)

Teaching Role

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Previous coordinator of and contributor to the SYLRC child sexual exploitation short course
  • PhD/Professional Doctorate supervision

Research Interests

  • Experiences and impacts of child sexual abuse, including child sexual exploitation and intersecting forms of harm
  • Patterns of and barriers and facilitators to children and young people’s disclosure and communication of abuse and harm
  • Policing approaches to responding to vulnerability-related risk and harm

Current research roles and projects

  • Journeys Through the Justice System following Child Sexual Abuse – MOPAC funded project (May 2023-Jan 2024)
  • Listening to children and young people’s experiences of disclosing child sexual abuse: Insights for the proposed mandatory reporting duty in England and Wales – NSPCC commissioned (April 2023-September 2024)
  • Member of Senior Leadership Team of SYLRC (2023)
  • Head of Research & Review work stream of the Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme, a national policing programme funded by the Home Office and delivered through the NPCC Lead for Violence and Public Protection’s national portfolio in Norfolk Constabulary (2018-present)
  • Deputy Chair of the IASR Research Institute Ethics Panel (2018-present)

Previous research roles and projects

External Roles

  • External Examiner for PhDs (previously examined PhDs at Durham University, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Hull)
  • Advisory Groups
  • Associate Editor of Journal of Children’s Services


  • Warrington, C., Allnock, D., Soares, C., Beckett, H. & Starbuck, L. (2023) ‘Letting you share when you need to share’: navigating the potential and precarity of friends and peers for UK young people after sexual abuse in adolescence, Child Abuse Review, 32(3), p.e2804.
  • Warrington, C., Beckett, H., Allnock, D. & Soares, C. (2023) Children’s perspectives on family members’ needs and support after child sexual abuse, Children and Youth Services Review, 149.
  • Allnock, D. (2021) Traffic Light Tool e-Learning Course. Child Abuse Review.
  • Radford, L., Allnock, D., Hynes, P & Shorrock, S. (2020) Action to End Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: A Review of the Evidence 2020. New York: UNICEF.
  • Allnock, D., Dawson, J. & Rawden, H. (2020) The role of police in responding to child and adult vulnerability: A meta-analysis of 126 review of death and serious harm. Norfolk: Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme.
  • Allnock, D. & Atkinson, R. (2019) Snitches get stitches': School-specific barriers to victim disclosure and peer reporting of sexual harm committed in school context. Child Abuse & Neglect, 89, 7-17.
  • Allnock, D. & Peace, D. (2018) Evaluation of the Police Transformation Fund regional CSE initiative: Main Report. Luton: University of Bedfordshire. (unpublished, official-sensitive)
  • Allnock, D. (2018) A Transformative Learning Approach to Child Protection with Applied Social Studies Undergraduates at a University in England. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 350-360.
  • Allnock, D. (2018) Disclosure of CSE and other forms of child sexual abuse: Is an integrated evidence base required? In: Understanding and responding to child sexual exploitation, (Beckett, H. & Pearce, J., eds.). Oxford, Routledge. Pp. 37-53.
  • Allnock, D. (2016) Child neglect: the research landscape. In Gardner, R. (ed) Tackling Child Neglect. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Allnock, D. (2016) Exploring the relationship between neglect and adult-perpetrated intra-familial child sexual abuse: Evidence Scope 2. RiP, AfC and NSPCC.
  • Allnock, D., Sneddon, H. and Ackerley, E. (2015) Mapping therapeutic services for sexual abuse and exploitation [PDF] London: The University of Bedfordshire and the NSPCC.
  • Allnock, D. (2015) Child maltreatment: How can friends contribute to safety? Safer Communities, 14(1), 27-36.
  • Allnock, D., & Hynes, P. (2015) Self-reported experiences of therapy following child sexual abuse: messages from a retrospective survey of adult survivors. Journal of Social Work, 15(2), 115-137.
  • Allnock, D. & Miller, P. (2013) No one noticed: no one heard: A study of disclosure of abuse in childhood. London: the NSPCC.
  • Allnock, D. & Hutchinson, A. (2014) Employment-Based Training on Alcohol and Other Drugs in England: Bridging the Gap. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 33, 760-773.
  • Galvani, S. & Allnock, D. (2014) The nature and extent of substance use education in qualifying social work programmes in England. Social Work Education, The International Journal, 33(5), 573-588.
  • Hutchinson, A. & Allnock, D. (2014) The development of employment-based education on substance use for Social Workers in England: Embedding Substance Use Training in Frameworks of Continuing Professional Development. Social Work Education, The International Journal, 33(5), 589-604.
  • Hutchinson, A. & Allnock, D. (2014) Implementing Rigorous Survey Methodology within Context of Social Work Education, Training and Practice: a Case Study in Substance Misuse. Social Work Education, The International Journal, 33(5), 605-618.
  • Erooga, M., Allnock, D. & Telford, P. (2012) ‘Sexual Abuse of Children by People in Organisations: What Offenders Can Teach Us About Protection’. In Erooga, M. (ed.) Creating Safer Organisations. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Allnock, D., Radford, L., Stafford, A., Bunting, L. & Morgan-Klein, N. (2011).‘In demand: Therapeutic services for sexually abused children and young people’. Child Abuse Review, 21 (5), 318-334.
  • Allnock, D. & Barns, R. (2011). ‘Editorial: Research sexual abuse: methodological issues’. Child Abuse Review, 20, 153-157.
  • Allnock, D., Tunstill, J., Akhurst, S. & Garbers, C. (2006). ‘Constructing and Sustaining a Sure Start Local Partnership: Lessons for Future Inter-agency Collaborations.’ Journal of Children’s Services, 1(3), 29-39.
  • Tunstill, J., Allnock, D., Akhurst, S. & Garbers, C. (2005). ‘Sure Start Local Programmes: Implications of Implementation Data from the National Evaluation of Sure Start.’ Children & Society, 19 (2) 158-171.
  • Garbers, C., Allnock, D., Akhurst, S. & Tunstill, J. (2005). ‘Facilitating Access to Services for Children & Families: Lessons from Sure Start Local Programmes.’ Child & Family Social Work, Published online July 2006.

Recent conference presentations

  • Allnock, D. & Edwards, G. (June 2023) Voice of the Victim: Cross-cutting systemic themes from our research and practice evidence. Presented at: Tackling online harms - A whole system response, hosted by the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region, Chelmsford, UK.
  • Allnock, D. (June 2023) Voice of the Victim: Cross-cutting systemic themes from our research and practice evidence. Presented at: The University of Bedfordshire Annual Conference.
  • Allnock, D. (March 2023) Voice of the Victim: Cross-cutting systemic themes from our research and practice evidence. Presented at: The Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme national conference, Online.
  • Allnock, D. (January 2023) Barriers to disclosure. Presented at: Denials, Disbelief, Delays, hosted by Survivors in Transition. Ipswich.
  • Allnock, D. (March 2021) The role of police in responding to child and adult vulnerability-related risk. Presented at Protecting Vulnerable Persons Conference, hosted by the Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme. Online.
  • Allnock, D. & Miller, P. (March, 2021) Are you listening? Responding to disclosures of abuse and neglect. Presented at: How Safe are our Children Conference, Online.
  • CSA Centre Connect 2018, hosted by the CSA Centre of Expertise, Birmingham & Cardiff. No one noticed, no one heard: improving the professional response to disclosure.

Contact Details

T: +44 (0)7854 012351
E: debra.allnock@beds.ac.uk; debra.allnock@norfolk.pnn.police.uk


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