Published: 21 March 2024

Research into reducing harmful sexual behaviour in schools

Dr Emily Setty, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Surrey, recently launched findings and recommendations from an 18-month ESRC project investigating the policing of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) in schools. The project was conducted in collaboration with Jonny Hunt, University of Bedfordshire and Professor Jessica Ringrose, UCL. 

Front cover of report 'Policing Harmful Sexual Behaviour Guidance', March 2024

Surrey Police officially partnered on the project and the team conducted interviews with police officers and with staff and pupils in schools in Surrey, as well as with professionals and practitioners from a variety of statutory and non-statutory children and forensic services. 

The findings from the project highlight the complexities of policing HSB in schools, in terms of both prevention and response, and the need for effective multiagency partnership working based on relationship-based practice that builds trust and credibility with young people involved in and affected by HSB. 

Recommendations for policy and practice have been designed to support stakeholders to tackle HSB as a cultural problem in schools requiring holistic and long-term solutions. The guidance document brings together the project findings and recommendations to challenge policy-makers and practitioners to reflect upon their understanding of and approaching to tackling HSB among young people in schools, in particular regarding the scope and limitations of law and criminal justice to fully address the issues that young people face. 

The full report can be found here, with an executive summary and recommendations. There is also a training exercise for professionals based on realistic case studies of incidents of HSB that come to the attention of police and schools.

The project team welcome feedback about the research and the guidance and any suggestions for development and collaboration.

Share what you've read?

Related content