The truth about the children’s care system, the links between care and custody and the role of alcohol in child neglect

Mar 19

Venue: Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Metropolitan University

Tue 19 March 2019

Inaugural lecture by Sir Martin Narey DL, Visiting Professor at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) at Manchester Metropolitan University. Established in 2007, the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University is a multi-disciplinary team of evaluators, economists, sociologists and criminologists.

In this public lecture, Sir Martin will draw on his distinguished career leading and shaping public services, including his management of the Prison and Probation Services in England and Wales; his long experience of policy formulation relating to child neglect and the care system; and his more recent experience of chairing the Portman Group, a social responsibility body (funded by drinks producers).

He will argue that the care system in England and Wales is more successful than its reputation suggests and that notions that entry into public care damages a child's life chances are inaccurate and dangerous. He will specifically address the relationship between being in public care and custody and dispute the notion that reducing the size of the care population might reduce the numbers of children and young people being sent to prison. Finally, he will address the role alcohol can play in undermining family life and what needs to be done both by government and the drinks industry to reduce the harm which alcohol can cause.

Sir Martin has had a long and varied career in public service. Initially a manager in the NHS he retrained as a prison governor in the early 1980s. He became Director General of the Prison Service in 1998, where he was credited with radically improving the decency of prisons and making the first statistically significant reductions in offending. In 2003 he became the first Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), with responsibility for both for the prison and probation services. During this period he received the Chartered Institute of Management’s Gold Medal for Leadership, the first public sector recipient of this single annual award for more than ten years.

He resigned as CEO of NOMS in 2005 when plans to use legislation to cap the size of the prison population were abandoned. He became Chief Executive of Barnardo’s and since stepping down from that role he has advised successive governments about child neglect and the care system, publishing reports on adoption (2012), children's homes (2016) and Fostering (2018).

Sir Martin currently chairs North Yorkshire Opportunity Area (a social mobility initiative funded by the Department for Education) and The Portman Group. He is Deputy Chair of The Sage Gateshead and a non-executive member of the Board of Unilink Ltd. He is about to take on the chairmanship of a not for profit organisation which seeks to find foster carers for hard to place children.

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