Katie helps organisations working with children to create and maintain safe organisational cultures and to prevent, identify early and respond appropriately to abuse within their institution.
Katie is an associate in the Safeguarding Unit which advises organisations working with children or adults with care and support needs, in England and around the world. Katie played a key part in the establishment of this major new initiative in 2015, and is a core member of the Unit today.
Katie's practice spans employment, child protection and safeguarding and education law. As part of her work for the Safeguarding Unit, Katie advises organisations on the full range of safeguarding and child protection issues, including
- Best practice in safeguarding governance and safeguarding reviews
- Creating and maintaining a safe organisational culture
- Preventing and detecting grooming and abuse within and external to organisations
- Responding to concerns and allegations of abuse
- Peer-on-peer abuse
- Mental health issues
- Online safety, and
- The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (the Roman Catholic Church Investigation).
Katie has particular experience carrying out investigations and reviews following cases of child sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse within institutions. She has acted as solicitor in a number of QC-led reviews, including, for example, the Independent Review by Hugh Davies QC into the criminal conduct of William Vahey, as part of which she was responsible for safeguarding governance structures and the practice and procedures for reporting of concerns. Katie also regularly carries out proactive reviews into organisations' safeguarding practices, helping those organisations to identify and remedy weaknesses in their systems. For example, she recently completed a major safeguarding review into a religious order based in this country, and is currently leading a global safeguarding review into an international institution which comes into contact with a large number of children across three continents, and which involves extensive interviews, visits, auditing, inspection, and advice.
Katie also has a particular interest in international child protection and children's rights, and regularly advises organisations based outside the UK on a range of issues, helping them to draw on and navigate local legal and cultural frameworks in order to implement best practice. Responsible for the international schools sector of the Safeguarding Unit, Katie has over the past two years worked with international schools based in Europe, Latin America and Asia, helping them to build safeguarding systems from scratch and create and maintain a safe organisational culture, sometimes in the face of significant legal and cultural challenges on the ground.
Katie's work in safeguarding extends beyond schools to higher education, sports, religious organisations and the charity sector. For example, she is currently advising a sports organisation on a major review into historic child sexual abuse, and she works closely with and sits on the safeguarding committee of a major higher education institution based in London. Katie is also involved in advising religious institutions in relation to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and has advised a number of religious orders on the handling of abuse and the implementation of good safeguarding practice within their institutions.
Katie also regularly advises and trains trustees and senior leaders of schools and charities on safeguarding, including on their safeguarding obligations overseas. For example, she recently delivered safeguarding training to the leadership teams of international schools based in Eastern Europe and South East Asia.
Katie is committed to thought leadership and innovative practice in safeguarding and child protection, and is undertaking a professional doctorate at the International Centre for research into Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking, focusing on peer-on-peer abuse, and the external challenges faced by international schools operating in environments without effective law enforcement and/or child protection agencies. She has also recently – alongside Adele Eastman and Dr Carlene Firmin - designed a peer-on-peer abuse toolkit for schools, which includes a template policy and guidance for schools on how to prevent, identify early and respond appropriately to peer-on-peer abuse.
Katie is an adviser to the Social Care Workforce Research Group at King's College, London, in relation to one of their research projects. She has also published a number of articles, including on the implementation of a low-level concerns policy and/or culture, and on grooming and abuse within international school settings. Katie is eager to share her learning with organisations working with children and regularly speaks at safeguarding conferences, in this country and around the world.
Katie was heavily involved in expanding Farrer & Co's pro bono activities and, with a senior partner, helped to establish the Mary Ward Legal Centre project, which continues today. With the help of a colleague, Katie also forged links with the London Legal Support Trust, which she helped to raise money for by organising the firm's first team to participate in the London Legal Walk and to undertake the Three Peaks Challenge.
Fluent in French and Spanish, Katie grew up in France and has studied and worked in a number of countries in Europe and Latin America, including completing a post-graduate course in international public law at the University of Cordoba, Argentina whilst working for a human rights lawyer and women's refuge in the same city, studying history and political science at the University of Murcia in Spain, and working for PILnet in Budapest. She is able to draw on this experience when advising organisations based around the world.