Skip to main content

Dr Lauren Wroe

Assistant Professor (Research)

PhD, BA Hons, MRes, PGDip

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Assistant Professor (Research) in the Department of Sociology  


I have a critical social psychology background. I am interested in how structural inequalities shape young people's experiences of violence and abuse in their communities, and their experience of harm reduction services. Adopting a contextual, critical and zemiological approach, I am also interested in understanding, demonstrating and mitigating the ways in which policy and practice can contribute to young people's experiences of harm; particularly through the use of surveillance practices, or the utilisation of children's rights issues to justify oppressive policing, sentencing and immigration reform.

I have a PhD in psychology. I joined the Department of Sociology at Durham in 2021, having previously worked at the Safer Young Lives Research Centre at the University of Bedfordshire. I am Social Work England registered social worker and a co-founder and trustee at the charity Social Workers Without Borders where I write and oversee independent social work reports to support immigration applications.

My recent publications have explored the holistic safety implications of ‘out of area’ placements of adolescents exposed to ‘extra-familial’ risks; the efficacy and ethics of multi-agency safeguarding responses to ‘county lines’ using a contextual and social harm lens; and the role of surveillance practices in innovations in children’s social care in response to extra-familial harm and during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

At Durham, I am part of the Contextual Safeguarding research programme. I am Co-PI on two projects; one exploring the applicability of contextual safeguarding in international settings characterised by structural inequalities, and the second ‘Watching Over Working With’ is a scoping study into the conditions that support relationships or trust, or surveillance, in children’s social care innovation in response to extra-familial harm. I am also a researcher on a project ‘Beyond Referrals 3’ exploring the levers and barriers for addressing extra-familial harm in voluntary and community sector youth settings. I am the editor of the Contextual Safeguarding Network blog.

Research interests

  • Contextual and structural accounts of safety and harm
  • Social justice perspectives in social work
  • Anti-racism and migrant rights

Research groups

  • Communities and Social Justice


Authored book

  • Wroe, L., Ng'andu, B., Doyle, M. & King, L. (2018). Positioning social workers without borders within green social work: Ethical considerations for social work as social justice work.

Journal Article

  • Wroe, L.E. (2021). Young people and “county lines” a contextual and social account. Journal of Children's Services 16(1): 39-55.
  • Wroe, L.E. & Lloyd, J. (2020). Watching over or working with? Understanding social work innovation in response to extra-familial harm. Social Sciences 9(4).
  • Wroe, L. (2019). Social working without borders: Challenging privatisation and complicity with the hostile environment. Critical and Radical Social Work 7(2): 251-255.
  • Wroe, L.E. (2018). ‘It really is about telling people who asylum seekers really are, because we are human like anybody else’ Negotiating victimhood in refugee advocacy work. Discourse and Society 29(3): 324-343.