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, 198 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 historyandpolicy@kcl.ac.uk.

You can download 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.


Scandal and reform, 1960-2016: can better policies guarantee child welfare in secure custody?

Ben Jarman explores the history of child welfare in the youth justice system to show that overall culture is as important as specific safeguards - a modern emphasis on policy compliance may come at the expense of questioning policy effectiveness.

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The legacy of 1885: girls and the age of sexual consent

The age of sexual consent - 16 years - has remained since 1885 despite concerns today regarding child sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy. Dr Victoria Bates warns against drawing direct comparisons with this 130-year-old law to promote or resist change to the age of consent.

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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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Choice, policy and practice in maternity care since 1948

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‘Troubled Families’: the lessons of history, 1880-2012

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‘The dangerous age of childhood’: child guidance in Britain c.1918-1955

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Supporting Active Fatherhood in Britain

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‘Happy families?’ history and policy

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About Us


H&P is an expanding Partnership based at King's College London and the University of Cambridge, and additionally supported by the University of Bristol, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leeds, the Open University, and the University of Sheffield.

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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