Summer time and the reading is easy….

reading in the sunshineSo it’s finally that time of year – sports day is over, the schools have packed up and the morning commute has become a little quieter. It’s the time when people start to kick back and think of flip-flops, exotic destinations and, definitely at Policy Press, of catching up on some much needed reading time.

We decided we’d ask a few of our authors what little gems they were tucking away in the suitcase to read this summer as they jet off for their well- earned holidays…

Danny Dorling’s most recent co-authored book The Social Atlas of Europe has just published, which means his well-earned break should afford him enough time to catch up on a couple of books at least:

Danny Dorling“I plan to read Selina Todd’s The People. The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010. People who have read it say it includes enough anecdotes to be lively and gives the account that has been needed to be written for some time. I also aim to re-read Maud Pember Reeve’s Round About a Pound a Week, published 101 years ago. I recently read Mary O’Hara’s Austerity Bites which reminded me of what had Maud found four generations earlier. I’m going to need something more fun to read as well after all that!” Danny Dorling

Unfortunately for Helen Kara, author of Research and evaluation for busy practitioners, we’re making her slog on through the summer months, so she’s beavering away at the second draft of her forthcoming book ‘Creative research methods’ completed before the autumn.  However she is making some room in her busy schedule for Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel:

Helen Kara“It’s a graphic novel memoir about her childhood growing up in a funeral home and her father’s suicide.  That makes it sound very depressing, but it’s not; some of it is sad, but quite a lot of it is hilarious.  I love graphic novels, they have different rhythms from pure text, and I think there should be more books with pictures for grown-ups.”  Helen Kara

The thoughts of Malcolm Dean, author of Democracy under attack, are never far from the subject of media misbehaviour, and the summer holiday is for him an opportunity to go further into the dark and murky world of tabloid terrorism:

Malcolm Dean

“I’m taking two books this summer. The first is Ray Jones’s The Story of Baby P, which I have already dipped into. It is a forensic documentation of the malign faults of the tabloids, and the readiness of politicians — in this case one from each side, Ed Balls as a minister and David Cameron as the Opposition leader — to fall in line with the populist papers’ pernicious agendas. My second book is Margaret MacMillan’s widely acclaimed The War that ended Peace. History, when I took GCE 49 years ago, stopped at the 14 causes of the First World War. I thought it was time to refresh my memory. My daughter must have thought so too. She gave it to me.” Malcolm Dean

Policy Press awarded Gold for their Green Impact

Green team collect their award

Green team collect their award

Policy Press’ ‘Green Team’ are thrilled to have received the Gold Award at Bristol University’s 2014 Green Impact Award ceremony earlier this month.

In addition to bagging a gold for their efforts to reduce energy use, increase recycling and improve the working environment, the team were presented with an extra ‘Special Achievement’ award for their ‘Lunch Bunch’ initiative.

Green Team representative Ruth Harrison said: “One of the most enjoyable parts of working towards the Green Impact award has been the team’s decision to hold a ‘Lunch Bunch’ once a month.”

“Everyone in Policy Press is invited to bring along a healthy, and usually home-made dish, as part of a lunch time ‘bring and share’. It’s a fun way to make sure that everyone gets some time away from their desks. We get to catch up, share recipes AND promote healthy eating!”

'Special Award' hamper for 'lunch bunch' initiative

‘Special Achievement’ award hamper for ‘Lunch Bunch’ initiative

The team were delighted to receive a hamper of tasty treats as their reward for the ‘Lunch Bunch’ initiative.

Policy Press Director Alison Shaw joined the Green team members at the ceremony. She said: “I am delighted with the efforts of the team and think it’s made a really positive impact on the office overall.”

Socially responsible

“Policy Press are a socially responsible organisation and have been ‘Green’ since our inception. Being part of Green Impact fits quite naturally with the company ethos.”

As a non-profit social science publisher, Policy Press is always looking for ways to make a positive impact. Founded at the University of Bristol in 2006, Green Impact is now a UK-wide environmental accreditation scheme. It is designed to help organisations think about the impact they have on the environment, and how this can be reduced.

Who protects the protectors? Social workers still ravaged by Baby P media storm

Dr Ray Jones

Guest blogger Ray Jones’ book, ‘The Story of Baby P – Setting the record straight‘ publishes today.  

Ray shares his thoughts on the impact that the media coverage of the ‘Baby P’ case had, and continues to have, on social workers.


The ‘early’ release of Jason Owen, convicted for being involved in the death of ‘Baby P’ in 2007, gave the tabloid newspapers a fresh moment of outrage this weekend.

When a little boy dies following horrific abuse from the adults in his household, disbelief and outrage are indeed quite natural human responses. ‘Baby P’, Peter Connelly, was just 17 months old when he died. In November 2009 his mother, her boyfriend, and Jason Owen, the boyfriend’s brother, were each convicted of ‘causing or allowing’ his death.

However the ramifications of the media storm that erupted following these convictions are still being felt in social work circles today.

‘Campaign for justice’

In November 2009 the Sun newspaper and its then editor, Rebekah Brooks, launched a ‘campaign for justice’. The campaign was not about improving and better resourcing child protection services. It was not about tougher sentences for those who abuse children. Instead, it demanded the summary sackings of social workers and their managers, and also of a paediatrician. Police officers who unsuccessfully undertook two prior criminal investigations into Peter’s previous injuries were, however, largely left out of how the story was told, as were the NHS managers who oversaw a paediatric service which was itself in trouble.

The Leveson Inquiry and the recent phone hacking trial have since revealed the powerful networks of relationships between the press, politicians and the police. These powerful relationships, and relationships of power, explicitly and implicitly came into play in how the ‘Baby P’ story was shaped and told.

One person in particular, the Director of Children’s Services in Haringey, became central to the Sun’s vilification and vengeance. Sharon Shoesmith, with the Connelly family’s social workers and their managers, was denigrated and demonised and threatened and traumatised.

The impact of the media’s targeting of those who worked to protect children was, however, much wider than its impact on individuals. In Haringey, and elsewhere, it became difficult to recruit and retain social workers and health visitors to work with children and families and it was difficult to get doctors to work in community paediatric services. So, fewer workers and a less stable workforce.

This created a child protection system which was, and still is, under tremendous pressure

There was also a dramatic surge in the number of child protection concerns passed to those still working at the sharp-end of child protection services. This created a child protection system which was, and still is, under tremendous pressure.

Since the death of ‘Baby P’ and the conviction of his killers, both the former Labour Government and the current Coalition Government have instigated reviews such as the Social Work Task Force and the Munro Review.  Neither has led to major new legislation. Neither promoted more procedures and regulations to standardise practice.

Away from the media spotlight, these reviews were able to give balanced recommendations that called for more professional space and greater recognition for the job of social workers. However, it is now the Government’s intention that child protection be opened up to the market place, and to companies like G4S and Serco, with more fragmentation and instability.

Who knows what impact yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle will have on the outcome of these government intentions.  Who knows when there will be the next media frenzy allocating blame and shame when a child is abused and killed, with vilification and vengeance focused on social workers.

Given the failure so far of the political response to the Leveson Inquiry recommendations to implement a robust system of checks and balances on the media pack, it remains to be seen whether politicians will find within themselves the necessary commitment and courage in the future to confront the media in their heady enthusiasm to identify and oust the latest social worker targeted in a ‘witch hunt’.

Bookshop display Baby PDr Ray Jones is a registered social worker and professor of social work at Kingston University and St George’s, University of London. From 1992-2006 he was director of social services in Wiltshire. He currently oversees child protection in several areas of England previously rated by Ofsted as ‘inadequate’. His book. ‘The Story of Baby P: Setting the Record Straight’, has just been published by Policy Press and can be purchased at a discounted rate from our website.

What is the ethical purpose of local government?

Ines Newman shares her thoughts on the ethical purpose of government

Ines Newman shares her thoughts on the ethical purpose of government

Ines Newman’s book Reclaiming local Democracy published in May.  At a launch in London on 10 June politicians, media commentators and the public debated some of the key issues covered in the book.  Ines Newman tells us more in her guest blog.

I wrote ‘Reclaiming local democracy’ because I want to generate a challenging debate on the ethical purpose of local government as well as more interest in local democracy. Brilliantly, that’s exactly what happened at the launch of the book earlier this month. Local vs central, financial independence and moving the agenda on from ‘what works’ to ‘what should an ethical local government do’ were all hotly debated.

Panel of speakers at Reclaiming local democracy book launch June, London

Panel of speakers at Reclaiming local democracy book launch June, London

Contributing editor to the Guardian’s Public Leaders Network, David Walker, raised the issue of a ‘postcode lottery’ if councils deliver different services in different areas. If, on the other hand, local authorities have an obligation to meet basic human need how can this provide scope for local decision-making? Such questions go to the heart of central/local relationships.

The basic human need for shelter places an obligation on governments to provide housing. But the form of the built environment and the variety of households in each area requires a discussion in each local authority area, involving residents, around what type of housing should be built and where.

My concern is how the local can influence the national

"I believe the central/local debate is misframed"

“I believe the central/local debate is misframed”

I believe that the central/local debate is ‘misframed’. We will always need strong central government to promote equality and facilitate redistribution. The question, therefore, is not just about which services should be devolved to local government.  More significantly, it is about how local government, together with local social movements, can help define basic human needs and rights at both national and local levels.  So my concern is how the local can influence the national. I see the Localism Act 2011, with its financial control of local government and minor devolution, as ‘hollow’ localism.

Financial independence

The lack of financial independence led to a debate on council tax. Council tax is highly regressive and has been made worse by its devolution to local government with reduced funding. This has resulted in many of the poorest households facing the highest cut in their living standards ever imposed by a government, as they now have to pay the ‘new poll tax’.

Hilary Benn shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Hilary Benn shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government engrossed in Reclaiming Local Democracy

I believe that if politicians have the ability to right an injustice, they should do just that. Hilary Benn, the shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, raised the political difficulties that will be caused by the protests from those who will lose out. Another contributor suggested that it was therefore essential for council tax reform to be in a party manifesto so that the democratic mandate could be used to support implementation. I would like to see local councillors campaigning now on council tax reform, to ensure the voice of poorer residents is heard against the more powerful, affluent residents whose interests are threatened. This is precisely where the local should be influencing the national, so we can develop a fair tax base for local government.

Ethical approach

In the book I argue that we need to move the agenda from ‘What works?’ to ‘What should an ethical local government do?’ Hilary Benn argued that these two questions are not necessarily in conflict and I agree with him. I believe the problem with the ‘What works?’ question is that it is usually asked in relation to a narrow output target which may fail to address the causes of the problem. The ‘best’ solution can then be determined by an expert. If such a methodology is to be combined with an ethical approach, the political questions should take priority. By providing a clear set of questions to ask in relation to the ethical implications of policy decisions, the book aims to support the political process and councillors who want to make a difference.

It’s great that the book has started to generate a debate. The green shoots of a new revival in local democracy are evident and I welcome feedback on the themes both of the debate and the book in general.

Reclaiming Local DemocracyReclaiming local democracy is available at a special discount rate on the Policy Press website.  Get involved in the debate by encouraging your local library to order a copy! 

Policy Press Shorts: Why flexible publishing increases the options for authors

Victoria Pittman

Victoria Pittman

By Policy Press Commissioning Editor, Victoria Pittman.

Is it a journal article? Is it a monograph? No, it’s a Policy Press Short!

It’s certainly not a new thing for publishers to be thinking about the best format to suit authors and their content or to suit market needs. Neither is the idea of a short book in any way unique. So it’s perhaps not surprising to see different format options being presented to authors, particularly when they are making use of digital developments which continue to change the way we publish content.

Policy Press Shorts logo

Our new Policy Press Shorts format is designed to give authors another option for publishing their work with more flexibility on length and benefits such as less time in production and a low-priced eBook. Other developments in mid-form publishing include Guardian Shorts, Palgrave Pivots, Princeton Shorts, Cornell Selects and the options draw attention to opportunities for flexible publishing which are exciting for both authors and publishers alike.

With an upper limit of around 40-50,000 words in most cases, these shorter books arguably have the same credibility and citation value of a longer monograph but without the same time commitment. Mid-form publishing provides authors with a new option – an opportunity to publish writing and research which doesn’t fit within the conventional book or journal length. The shorter length allows the publisher to commit to a quicker production schedule and fast publication whilst still giving the project the attention it deserves and providing the author with the same route to market.


So why is this happening now?

The fact that publishers are specifically offering this format could be linked to factors such as the decline in sales of traditional length monographs or the changing pressures of academia reducing the time authors have available for book projects. Another important reason is the development of digital publishing. Not only have digital formats started to remove some of the economics of paper but digital printing and advances in print on demand have increased the viability of short print runs and digital-led publishing. This means a low-priced, shorter book can be an option where it might not have been before and it allows publishers to be more flexible with the solutions they offer their authors.


Why publish in this format with Policy Press?

As a small team with a mission to make a big impact, we are particularly excited about encouraging a format that enables faster publication so that research and ideas can reach their audience quickly and without compromising on quality. Our Policy Press Shorts will deliver original ideas and make a difference in a concise, easily accessible way. Written by experts in their fields, from leading academics, social commentators and professionals to the best emerging scholars, the new formats will allow high quality peer-reviewed content to reach our readers quickly, with a maximum of 12 weeks in production. The titles will be available as eBooks for use on your PC, tablets or other devices but also include a print on demand option in either hardback or paperback (depending on the core market) for those who prefer a hard copy. They will be between 60pp and 150pp (20,000 and 50,000 words) and will be available for both personal purchase and for libraries and institutions through the usual channels.

Our Shorts will not only offer the opportunity to publish research (which might be longer than an article but shorter than a traditional monograph) but also inspiring social commentary providing insights on topical issues and handbooks and guides which will have an impact on policy and practice in key areas of society. These different types of content will all benefit from reaching their audience quickly and in this accessible format. Policy Press Shorts will fall into three broad categories:


As a not-for-profit University Press, Policy Press is part of the scholarly community and understands the needs and pressures of academia. At the same time, we are a specialist social science publisher with an established reputation for reaching out into practice and policy and making a difference with our high quality books, journals and other resources.


How to become a Policy Press Short author

If you would like to write a Policy Press Short please get in touch with Victoria Pittman ( or the relevant editor for your subject area. Find details here.

For more information visit the Policy Press Shorts page on our website.


Not the end of the hacking story

Malcolm Dean

Malcolm Dean

by Malcolm Dean, founder of Society Guardian and author of Democracy under attack.

Contrary to tabloid assertions that the hacking scandal is now over following today’s sentences on Andy Coulson, former Editor of News of the World, and four other members of that stable, some 59 people still face trials for making or receiving corrupt payments for confidential information.

Eleven more cases involving 20 current or former journalists on the Sun and News of the World are due to take place at the Old Bailey. (14 people – seven of them police officers – have already been convicted for corrupt payments.) Some 30 people, mostly journalists, including some from the Sun and Mirror papers, are still waiting to find out whether they will be charged with hacking offences. And there are still more civil compensations cases due to be heard, the settlement of 718 having cost Murdoch’s News International over £250 million. The settlements represent less than 15% of the suspected 5,500 victims.

What has been established beyond doubt is that News International journalists in the UK were indulging in illegal hacking on an ‘industrial scale’. So much for the ‘one rogue reporter’ defence that the company fought so hard to maintain. There have now been eight convictions for hacking since the original 2006 trial. We still do not know why Scotland Yard refused to pursue other NoW journalists, until The Guardian publicly exposed the depth of criminal activity. The Yard, which was well aware of such activities, has not even investigated its own shortcomings. Was it, as some believe, its wish to retain its own cosy relationship with Murdoch papers?

As the former Editor of the Times, James Harding, a News International employee, bravely noted before the trials began: ‘The News of the World was an example of a newsroom not only whose methods were wrong, but which had also lost its moral bearings. The failure of News International to get to grips with what had happened at one of its newspaper suggested that the company had succumbed to that most dangerous delusion of the powerful: namely that it could play by its own set of rules.’ Two weeks later he resigned at the request of Rupert Murdoch. Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert’s daughter, who had been equally scathing about the behaviour of her father’s company in her 2012 MacTaggart lecture, got off more lightly. Meanwhile, a former News of the World editor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was even more blunt: “That is what we do. We go out and destroy other people’s lives.” That sentiment was echoed by the Leveson Inquiry, which reported on the scandal in 2012.

Alas, Leveson’s astute proposals for an independent press regulator – to stop the media ‘wreaking havoc with the lives of ordinary people’ – is farther away than ever. An insidious coalition of big newspaper groups – Murdoch’s News International, Northcliffe Media who own the Mail newspapers, The Telegraph Media Group and Mirror Group Newspapers – have not just defeated Leveson, but the three main political parties in the country too that had backed the Leveson plan.

The so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) claims to comply with the Leveson plan, but a forensic analysis by the Media Standards Trust has documented that it only satisfies a mere 12 of the 38 criteria that Leveson set down. It repeats the fatal flaw of its pathetic predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission. The people who supply the finance – the media barons – run the system. Among the many powers of IPSO’s new controller, the Regulatory Funding Company (RFC), include:

  • a veto on any changes to its regulations;
  • a veto over changes to its standards code;
  • a veto over any low-cost arbitration, as proposed by Leveson, to allow ordinary people access to the system without having to use the extremely expensive court system;
  • control over the process of voting, giving big publishers a bigger share of the vote;
  • control over the funding of investigations into wrongdoing;
  • control over financial sanctions;
  • control over the size of the IPSO budget.

The chair of the new board, Sir Alan Moses, a respected and distinguished judge, has no power to rewrite the IPSO articles, because they are set in stone, giving overwhelming power to the Murdoch, Mail, Telegraph and Mirror groups.

All seven sins of my trade – set out in Democracy Under Attack: how the media distort policy and politics – will continue to flourish: deliberate distortions of the facts; group think; hunting in packs; dumbing down; too adversarial; too readily duped; more interest in politics than policy; and worst of all, too negative.

Remember: under the old regime, when Express journalists complained to the PCC about distorted reports they were having to write on asylum seekers, they were told they were disqualified from filing a complaint because access was restricted to victims. The new system will also have restrictions on third party referrals.

Attempts by Hacked Off, the pressure group campaigning on behalf of victims, to set out what is wrong with IPSO have been turned down by the Times, Telegraph and Mail. So much for a free press. Spread the message about the new system’s faults. Remind the public of David Cameron’s pledge to victims of hacking, that he would endorse any proposed regulator that conformed to Leveson’s criteria. IPSO doesn’t.

Democracy under attack is available with 20% discount from

Tuam babies: How the English ‘sent back’ unmarried mothers to Ireland

In the first in a new series of blogpost,  Policy Press take an in-depth look behind the headlines, talking to experts to discover more about the story behind the headlines.

We spoke to Policy Press author and academic Paul Michael Garrett, whose book Social work and Irish people in Britain looked at the plight of ‘unmarried mothers’ in Ireland between the 1920s – 1960 ten years ago, long before media attention was focused on Tuam…

International media attention has been captivated by the ‘scandal’ uncovered by local Irish historian suggesting that as many as 796 dead babies had been discarded in a ‘septic tank’ at the Tuam Mother and Baby home in County Galway between the 1920s and the 1960s.  

In response Prime Minister Enda Kenny has commissioned an investigation into all the Mother and Baby homes that were once in operation in Ireland.

But are there questions we need to be asking ourselves back on English shores too?

Policy Press author and Galway-based Paul Michael Garrett has researched the women who fled to England from the Irish state partly because they feared possible ‘incarceration’ in in the Mother and Baby homes.

Speaking to Policy Press on the subject he said: “Many women would get on the ferry to Holyhead, present themselves to adoption agencies in Britain and would find themselves being repatriated, sent back to Ireland, in some instances before they gave birth, in some instances after.”

Garrett’s book, ‘Social work and Irish people in Britain’, suggests that fear of having to enter one of the Mother and Baby homes in Ireland was one reason for the historical phenomena that saw hundreds of Irish expectant mothers migrate to England between the 1920s and 1960s.

Garrett said: “Whereas in England you might expect to stay in a home for, say, three months, in Ireland this was much more likely to be a period closer to two years. It simply wasn’t possible to cover up the reasons for that sort of period of absence.”

Fleeing to England offered these women the opportunity to have their baby in secret and then return to their lives in Ireland.  But Garrett explains there were strong forces in operation in Britain, which were keen to drive these women back.

Garrett said: “Often English agencies wouldn’t want the economic burden of dealing with the pregnant women and their babies and the Irish agencies didn’t want the children brought up in Protestant homes.”

Figure highlights how many women were ‘repatriated’: Garrett 2003:30

Figure highlights how many women were ‘repatriated’: Garrett 2003:30

Garrett says that the women were subject to coercion. Garrett’s chapter in the book which deals with ‘PFIs’ – Pregnant From Ireland – a known and accepted term with English social workers at that time – shares the stories of many of the women such as ‘Bridget’.

A young cinema worker, ‘Bridget’ presented herself to the English authorities for help, having discovered she was pregnant. Despite speaking in the strongest terms against the Mother and Baby home in Castlepollard, describing it as ‘just like a prison’, she was pressurised to return to Ireland and give birth there. Knowing that Bridget was terrified of her father finding out about her pregnancy, the English social worker used the threat of telling him about her condition as a means of making her comply.

This is one amongst a number of stories that Garrett came across in his research and included in his book. The plight of these women is one that he feels passionately should be more widely known and he welcomed both the media interest and the forthcoming inquiry.

Garrett said: “It’s a part of women’s history and Irish history that has been neglected.”

“I think it is entirely advantageous that a voice has been found for those dubbed ‘unmarried mothers’.”

As reports on the Tuam babies have suggested, infant mortality rates in the Mother and Baby homes in Ireland were high and the gap in mortality rates between legitimate and illegitimate children was higher in Ireland than in neighbouring countries. In 1931/32 one in every four illegitimate infants died within the first year of life in Ireland.

Garrett is reluctant to draw the direct conclusion that the high infant mortality rate encouraged the women to flee to England, rather than go into the Mother and Baby homes, though he hopes the official Inquiry into the homes will cast some light on this disparity and why it existed. He said: “Although a number of the deaths were from outbreaks of diseases, it seems to me that some deaths were the result of neglectful care in the homes.”

However Garrett expressed some caution about the media attention.

He said: “The attention could be problematic – the focus on the “septic tank” and what it is conveying about Ireland can tap into strains of anti-Catholicism. I would be worried if the spotlight is entirely focused on the Church because the situation is far more complex.”

There was a threefold system in Ireland to deal with ‘unmarried mothers’ – the Church-run Mother and Baby homes forming one part, but a greater number of women were resident in the County Homes and Magdalen Asylums – the former was local authority-run and the Church did not have any say over them.

Garrett said: “The focus can’t just be on Mother and Baby homes – it’s just too easy to focus on the wrong-doings of the Church.”

Garrett feels that there are some parallels to be drawn between the then migration of pregnant women taking the ferry to England to have their child adopted, and the women who today travel by budget airlines for terminations. Both are cloaked in secrecy. He said: “In some senses this is about Ireland seeking to export difficulties – social policy questions that are not answered internally can be exported in this way.”

But Garrett, located at the National University of Ireland in Galway for the past ten years, warns against seeing this as a story of victimisation. He said: “It would be wrong to conceive of the women who made these journeys as malleable and compliant – many were tenacious and wouldn’t be manipulated by the agencies. Equally, many were grateful for the assistance they received from the agencies too. It is quite a complex picture and my hope is that the report illuminates some of these issues.”

Social work and Irish people in Britain by Paul Michael Garrett is available on the Policy Press website at £19.99 (20% discount on RRP)

By the same author

Social work and social theory

Children and families

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates



Publishing with a purpose

Public Administration Review

Public Administration Review is a professional journal dedicated to advancing theory and practice in public administration.


European Politics and Policy

Urban Studies Journal

Publishing with a purpose


Official Blog of the Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham


The official blog of the Journal of Public Policy

Social Europe Journal

debating progressive politics in Europe and beyond


Publishing with a purpose

PolicyBristol Hub

Publishing with a purpose

Publishing with a purpose

Democratic Audit UK

Publishing with a purpose

Path to the Possible

Democracy toward the Horizon

finding development

The views depicted here are my own, do not represent the views of anyone/anything else, and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without my express written consent.

The Policy Press Blog

Publishing with a purpose


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,051 other followers