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Dr Lauren Wroe

Assistant Professor (Research)

Assistant Professor (Research) in the Department of Sociology


I joined the Department of Sociology at Durham in 2021, having previously worked at the Safer Young Lives Research Centre at the University of Bedfordshire. At Durham, I am in the management group for the Contextual Safeguarding research programme and a member of the Communities and Social Justice, and Criminal Justice, Social Harm and Inequality research groups. I am Co-PI on two projects. The first, 'Contextual Safeguarding Across Borders', explores the applicability of Contextual Safeguarding in international settings with refugee children. For the second, 'Building Safety', I am working with a Local Authority in England to support a community-informed approach to 'Contextual Safeguarding' with a specific focus on inequalities. I am the editor of the Contextual Safeguarding Network blog. 

I have a critical social psychology background. I am interested in how structural inequalities shape young people's experiences of violence and abuse in their communities, and their experience of harm reduction services. Adopting a contextual, critical, and zemiological approach, I am interested in understanding, demonstrating, and mitigating the ways in which policy and practice can contribute to young people's experiences of harm; particularly through the use of surveillance, or the utilisation of children's rights issues to justify oppressive policing, sentencing and immigration reform.

My recent publications have included an abolitionist analysis of children's social care using an autoethnographic method; two papers exploring the rate and use, and social harms implicated in, ‘out of area’ placements of adolescents exposed to ‘extra-familial’ risks; a contextual analysis of the efficacy and ethics of multi-agency safeguarding responses to ‘county lines’; and two papers analysising surveillance in innovation in children’s social care in response to extra-familial harm, and during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

I am a Social Work England registered social worker and a co-founder and trustee at the charity Social Workers Without Borders where I write and oversee probono Independent Social Work expert reports in relation to immigration appeals.

Follow me on Twitter @Laurie_Eli

Research interests

  • Anti-racism and migrant rights
  • Contextual and structural accounts of safety and harm
  • Social justice perspectives in social work


Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Supervision students