Having received internal investment from the University of Bedfordshire Research Investment Programme, Dr Camille Warrington and Dr Helen Beckett undertook a pilot participatory, action research study exploring how experiences of police investigations and the courts could be improved for those affected by CSE.
The project ran from September 2013 – September 2014, and was supported by Abi Billinghurst of Abianda. Drawing on participatory research methods, it elicited service users' expertise to identify means of improving engagement and wellbeing through investigative and court processes relating to CSE.
These perspectives were then shared with key experts working in the fields of investigation and prosecution, with their responses in turn relayed to the service users, thereby triangulating the perspectives of service providers and service users and maximising the relevance of learning from the study.
The research is based on recognition that young service users hold unique expertise about experiential aspects of utilising services, involving young people as 'experts' rather than 'victims'. It aimed to facilitate learning from these perspectives while attending to the ethical issues involved in discussing traumatic investigative and prosecution processes directly with young people.
The project was enabled through partnership work with three local specialist projects (led by Barnardo's, The Children's Society and Safe and Sound).