4 August 2016 15:44

A scoping study, aiming to explore the feasibility of establishing a new national family justice observatory, is being led by a team from Lancaster University.

The scoping study was commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation as part of its work to address perceived difficulties in applying research to practice in the family justice system.

In addition, the Foundation considers that any new or re-purposed organisation should tackle problems in the supply of high quality research – particularly research that can offer the ‘bigger picture’ about patterns and outcomes of family court decisions.

Professor Karen Broadhurst and colleagues within the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University are working in partnership with the Alliance for Useful Evidence, University College London, Research in Practice, Loughborough University, Family Rights Group and CoramBAAF.;

The research team has now launched a call for evidence which aims to engage with stakeholder organisations in an open and transparent way to ascertain views on research use in policy and practice in the family justice system and priorities for any new observatory.

The call for evidence will be combined with a series of regional focus groups (England and Wales), interviews with national policy and practice leads and a review of relevant organisational models. In addition, consultation with international colleagues aims to search for comparable initiatives in a range of different jurisdictions.

“This scoping study aims to explore the feasibility of establishing a new observatory and its potential functions,” added Professor Broadhurst. “The overarching aim of this study is to establish a clear, specific and measurable set of purposes for a new organisational structure, and to draw conclusions about feasibility and funding.”

Full details of the research team and the scoping study are also available online at: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/observatory-scoping-study/

An article covering the call for evidence will appear in Family Law in September.