Professor Andy Bilson
Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire
Adjunct Professor, University of Western Australia
Andy is Emeritus Professor at the University of Central Lancashire where he is associate director of The Centre for Children and Young People’s Participation. He continues to work as a researcher and consultant promoting children’s rights, parent advocacy and reform of child protection systems. He is committed to developing systems that support families and reduce institutionalisation and unnecessary removal of children from their families. His research includes longitudinal studies of child protection in England, Scotland and Australia. He is co-chair of the Parents, Families and Allies Network which aims to promote greater parent participation in child protection systems.
Andy is a qualified social worker and has worked as a social worker and manager in many posts in the UK including Assistant Director in Fife Social Work Department and Assistant Director of Action for Children in Wales. From 1997 to 2001 he was Director of the Council of Europe’s and UNICEF’s Observatory on European children’s rights. He was Professor of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire for over 10 years carrying out research, advocacy and consultancy in social work in the UK and many other countries.
During the 1980s he campaigned to reform the juvenile justice system and was a founder of the Association for Juvenile Justice and involved in research undertaken By David Thorpe and colleagues at Lancaster University. Successful campaigns and changes in social work with young people and their families saw the number of children on care orders for offending in England and Wales fall from 14,000 to under a 1000 and boys sentenced to detention centre and youth custody fall from around 7000 to 1000 a year.
Internationally he is known for his work on developing social work to combat the institutionalisation of children. He has carried out advocacy and research in a wide range of countries and writes on the concept of gatekeeping and system reform as well as research into child protection and services for children and families.