Scoping the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

Partnership working to develop the use of evidence in the family justice system.

In 2015, the Nuffield Foundation began to shape a proposition for a Family Justice Observatory for England and Wales. The overarching aim being to improve the generation and application of research in the family justice system.

At Research in Practice, we were invited to bring our experience on research mobilisation to these early discussions and scoping activities. In 2016-17, we held nine regional focus groups with professionals and, in collaboration with Who Cares Trust and CAFCASS, two groups with care experienced young people.

The Nuffield Foundation then commissioned a team to take forward the development of the Family Justice Observatory in 2017-18. Led by Lancaster University, with partners including Rees Centre, Oxford University and the SAIL Databank at Swansea University, the team worked on eight strands of activity, with Research in Practice contributing across all strands and leading on regional engagement activities. We worked closely with colleagues in the Greater Manchester Local Family Justice Board (GM LFJB) in order to understand how busy professionals might engage with a Family Justice Observatory offer and to share examples of proactive practice at GM and other LFJBs. See for instance the short film.

In spring 2019, Lisa Harker was appointed inaugural Director of the Family Justice Observatory and the partnership between our two organisations continues to develop. We share a commitment to exploring synergy between work streams and developing collaboration where we can bring our joint expertise to bear to provide relevant, meaningful, evidence-informed support to the sector.