Professor, Associate Director: Security Lancaster, Head of Department
As ESRC North West Doctoral Training Centre Lancaster pathway lead for social work I am happy to take students with a serious interest in taking the social work and social care practice knowledge base further particular on an international and/or comparative level. In addition I have strong research interests in child protection (especially in the development and application of new technologies) and also gambling, criminal careers, resilience and vulnerability.
I am an applied social scientist dedicated to research that makes a difference to the way in which vulnerable children and adults can keep safe. After completing a degree in Sociology and training as a social worker I initially conducted research aimed at improving children’s participation in services designed to safeguard them. My PhD (Child Abuse Troubles, Lancaster University, 1996) and early books (Child Sexual Abuse: Listening, Hearing and Validating The Experiences of Children (1989), Making a Case in Child Protection (1992) & Child Sexual Abuse: Responding to the Experiences of Children, (1999)) impacted on policy through membership of the Home Office Pigot Code of Practice Steering Group which drafted the Memorandum of Good Practice on Video Recorded Interviews with Child Witnesses for Criminal Proceedings (1992), membership of the WHO Prevention of Violence Initiative drafting the World Report on Violence and Health (2002) and also appointment to the British Family Justice Council. I have researched the ways in which different European countries respond to violence against children through several EU collaborations (the Concerted Action on the Prevention of Child Abuse in Europe (CAPCAE), CUPICSO (Collection and Use of Personal Information on Child Sex Offenders in Europe), SIFS (Social Inclusion and Family Support), PANDORA (Confidentiality and the Response to Children in 5 European Countries) and CAHRV (Co-ordination Action on Human Rights Violation). Over recent years my focus has been on safeguarding children through developing and applying new technologies; initially in ISIS which created software to identify age and gender in computer mediated communication, followed by UDesignIT co-producing applications to facilitate child concern reporting and iCOP (identifying child abuse image originations in Peer to Peer networks). In addition I also research vulnerability, resilience and support needs in adults through an ESRC funded longitudinal study on gambling and crime (Tracking Vulnerability and Resilience in Gambling Crime Careers), research on self neglect in older people and the contribution of social work to child and adult well-being.
Social Responsibility and Gambling
A review of research to inform policy development on young people and gambling in the UK was published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as a technical report Young People and Gambling in Britain. The research team, led by Professor May-Chahal, also work in the areas of health and social impact assessment, community impact assessments, gambling, debt and help seeking and developing a public health approach in gambling. A further report for the DCMS on developing a health and social impact assessment framework to measure the impact of the Gambling Act, 2005, involving a consortium of researchers from the US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK can be viewed at http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/research_and_statistics/4864.aspx.
OffGam (with Jill Anderson, Les Humphreys and Allie Wilson) researched gambling in prisons, including the evaluation of cognitive behavioural interventions to address gambling problems in the prison environment, funded by the Responsibility in Gambling Trust. This study identified the extent of problem gambling in 2 English prison populations. International studies find that between a quarter and a third of offenders may be defined as problem gamblers. During the last decade, the UK has seen unprecedented changes in gambling legislation and opportunities. Offgam found that levels of problem gambling were in line with global estimates. 27.8% of male prisoners and 18.1% of female prisoners were rated as medium-risk and problem gamblers. Gambling problems were linked to current and previous offending for between 7% and 13% of all incarcerated offenders (see http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/hojo.2012.51.issue-4/issuetoc).
An ESRC Seminar Series on International Transformations: Preventing UK Gambling Harm. A report from the first three seminars which focused on research, the gambling industry and policy can be found on the RIGT website (http://www.rigt.org.uk/research/101.asp).
Principle Investigator ESRC funded 3 year study 'Tracking Vulnerability and Resilience in Gambling Crime Careers'. The research team based at Lancaster and Glasgow Universities is exploring patterns of risk, vulnerability and resilience among offenders in prisons and on release in both England and Scotland. The study is tracking longitudinal data from the Police National Computer alongside in-depth narrative interviews across 3 time points to examine the relationship between crime and problem gambling, and also links to mental health, substance misuse and patterns of deprivation (see http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/projects/tracking-vulnerability/).
Child Protection and Wellbeing
Experience in comparative European social policy in child welfare through involvement in several European funded research collaborations. Amongst completed projects are the Concerted Action on the Prevention of Child Abuse in Europe (CAPCAE) a project funded under the EC Biomed II programme for which she was co-ordinator, CUPICSO(Collection and Use Of Personal Information on Child Sex Offenders in Europe), SIFS (Social Inclusion and Family Support), PANDORA (Confidentiality and the Response to Child Sexual Abuse in 5 European Countries), and comparative research on protective factors for human rights violations as part of the Co-ordination Action on Human Rights Violation (CAHRV). National projects include Measuring the Prevalence of Child Maltreatment in the UK (Cawson et. al. 2000; May-Chahal & Cawson, 2005) and The Relationship between Child Death and Child Maltreatment, (May-Chahal et al, 2003). Regional projects have included Developing Collaborative Commissioning Models for Looked After Children with the North West ADSS and NCH Action for Children, Missing Children (with Blackpool and CYPU) and evaluation of the Children's Fund in St Helen's .
Co-investigator on the ESRC/EPSRC funded Isis project (Lancaster University, Middlesex University and Swansea University), which developed an ethics-centred monitoring framework and tools for supporting law enforcement agencies in policing online social networks for the purpose of protecting children. For more information, see http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/isis/.
Co-investigator on the iCOP project (funded by the EU’s Safer Internet program) iwhich is developing a novel forensics software toolkit to support law enforcement agencies across the EU in identifying new or previously unknown child abuse media and its originators on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks (see http://scc-sentinel.lancs.ac.uk/icop/).
Co-investigator UDesignIT, an EPSRC funded cross-disciplinary account (see http://scc-sentinel.lancs.ac.uk/youdesignit/?q=node/3). Social networking technologies are now being used to improve community cohesion via both government-led initiatives (e.g., Gov 2.0) and community-led ones (e.g., SeeClickFix). Yet there is still a lack of understanding of how to effectively leverage social media to engage citizens on an ultra-large-scale, especially when it comes to addressing sensitive issues such as crime and anti-social behaviour. YouDesignIT combines Computing and Social Science research to study the feasibility of utilising new forms of social media to empower children and young people to influence the design of such systems to ensure their participation in safer 'cyborg' childhoods (see May-Chahal et al., 2012, Safeguarding Cyborg Childhoods: Incorporating the On/Offline Behaviour of Children into Everyday Social Work Practices, British Journal of Social Work, http://bjsw.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/bcs121?ijkey=QK9976x9WFdScBz
Children and Families (MA)
Current Doctoral Supervision Areas: Self Neglect in Older People, Financial Exclusion, Gambling and PublicHealth, ChildWelfare, Emotional Literacy, Social Work Practices.
Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings › Conference contribution
Research output: Contribution to journal › Journal article
Project: Funded Project › Research
Project: Funded Project › Research
Project: Funded Project › Research