Policy Papers

History & Policy papers are written by expert historians, based on peer-reviewed research. They offer historical insights into current policy issues ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq, climate change and internet surveillance to family dynamics, alcohol consumption and health reforms. For historians interested in submitting a paper, please see the editorial guidelines.

Currently, 169 papers are freely searchable by theme, author or keyword, with new papers published regularly. Where possible, we publish papers to coincide with relevant policy developments. If you are a policy maker, civil society practitioner or journalist and would like to contact one of our historians, please contact fiona.holland@kcl.ac.uk.

You can download 2014 H&P policy papers directly from the Apple iBooks store to your iPhone, iPad or Mac. We also have an Amazon Kindle version to download to your PC for transfer to your Kindle via USB cable. Please consult your Kindle manual for further details.


Scandals and silences: the British press and child sexual abuse

Until the 1970s British press coverage of child sexual abuse was ‘scanty, timid and evasive’. This failure to treat abuse as a serious problem has changed. But according to Dr Adrian Bingham, of Sheffield University, elements of this earlier journalistic culture remain today. 

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Child welfare, child protection and sexual abuse, 1918-1990

Across the twentieth century, poor coordination among social workers, welfare charities and doctors meant that most child sexual abuse was undetected. When cases did come to light, the response was often inadequate. While the situation has changed, Dr Lucy Delap argues that some past practices and beliefs remain, risking child safety today. 

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Child sexual abuse in England and Wales: prosecution and prevalence 1918-1970

Why were the courts and police so slow to act on child sexual abuse? Dr Louise Jackson, of the University of Edinburgh, reviews the twentieth century criminal justice system in England and Wales.

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‘Troubled compensation:’ awarding pensions after political conflict in Ireland

Policy makers planning a pension scheme for victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles could learn from the mistakes of a similar system for conflict-related injury in 1920s Ireland, argues Dr Marie Coleman of Queen’s University Belfast.

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The case for Brexit: lessons from the 1960s and 1970s

Contrary to Eurosceptic opinion today, the UK did not stumble blindly into the EEC in 1973, nor vote to stay on a false prospectus, argues Dr Adrian Williamson, who considers lessons from the country’s original engagement with Europe.

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Magna Carta and contemporary constitutional change

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is an opportunity to enrich constitutional debates today argues Dr Andrew Blick, who challenges misconceptions about English and UK constitutional history. 

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Ireland and the perils of fixed exchange rates

The Great Irish Famine of the 1840s and the twentieth-century Irish financial crisis might seem worlds apart. But they share key macroeconomic policies that exacerbated the respective economic situations, according to Charles Read, of Cambridge University. Using the macroeconomic concept the ‘trilemma’, Read compares decisions taken during the famine and the recent financial crisis to understand what went wrong – and offer lessons for policy makers today, particularly in countries considering joining a currency union. 

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Diagnosing a flight from care: medical migration and ‘dirty work’ in the NHS

Policy makers should recognise the vital contribution of migrant medics to Britain's healthcare system and support them, argues Dr Julian Simpson, of Manchester University. Since 1948 the NHS has been dependent on overseas-trained doctors who fill jobs vacated by emigrating British medics. 

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Mentally ill older people aren’t ‘past it’

Ageism and the repeat failure of governments to match rhetoric with resources for mental health services for older people means provision today is patchy and under-funded, argues psychiatrist and historian, Dr Claire Hilton. And this despite recognition dating back to the 1940s of the needs and benefits of treatment. 

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Maplin: the Treasury and London’s third airport in the 1970s

Debate in the 1970s about London’s third airport offers interesting parallels for today’s policy makers grappling with the need to increase airport capacity. Like ‘Boris Island,’ the proposed Thames estuary airport, Maplin Sands, was abandoned in 1974. Dr Duncan Needham, of Cambridge University, considers the many factors in this decision and suggests that the solution today may be hiding in plain sight. 

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About Us


H&P is a unique collaboration between the Institute of Contemporary British History at King's College London and the University of Cambridge.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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