School of Social and Political Science

Professor John Devaney

Job Title

Centenary Chair

John Devaney's photo

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)



I qualified as a social worker in 1988, practising in statutory services firstly with children and adults with learning disabilities, before moving into services for children and families, primarily in relation to child protection and cared for children. During this period I held practitioner and then management positions. In 2004 I was awarded a PhD from Queen's University Belfast for a study on chronic child abuse, and in 2006 I took up a lectureship in social work at Queen's University Belfast.

During 2012 I was awarded a Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to study work in Norway and Canada with individuals who use violence and abuse within their intimate relationships. This formed the basis for a book with my colleague Anne Lazenbatt on Domestic Violence Perpetrators - Evidence informed responses.

Between 2012-2015 I was the chair of the Board of Trustees of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (now the Association of Child Protection Professionals This is the largest multi-disciplinary body in the UK for professionals and academics working on issues related to the protection of children from maltreatment.

From 2012-2016 I returned to work part time in practice alonsgide my academic appointment when the Northern Ireland Minister of Health appointed me for four years to chair the Case Management Review Panel of the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland ( The Panel reviews cases involving the death or serious injury of children through maltreatment.

In January 2018 I took up the position of the Centenary Chair of Social Work at the University of Edinburgh. 

I am a member of the British Association of Social Workers, the Association for Child Protection Professionals and the Association of Professors of Social Work.


I am very privileged to have the opportunity to teach both students who are new to the profession, and those who are returning to study while in practice. My teaching focuses specifically on issues relating to the exercise of professional duties around support and protection, child maltreatment, domestic violence and abuse, research methodologies, and leadership in social work. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Curent Supervision of Doctoral Students

Lauren Lamberton - New challenges in mental health provision: e-mental health support

Luke Power - Health inequalities for care experienced adults

Chantelle Toner-Boyce - Exploring the role and influence of close friends and families on a survivors' decision to report, or not report, sexual violence to the police: a personal network analysis

Ariana Zane - Risky decision-making: multi-agency working with victims experiencing high risk domestic abuse

Research interests

Research interests


My research focuses mainly on the broad area of family violence, with a particular focus on child homicide, child maltreatment, child welfare policy, domestic violence, and the impact of adversity in childhood across the lifecourse. I have an interest in comparative social policy, evaluations of practice and interventions, and policy development. My research spans both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. I have undertaken a range of research studies in both the UK and internationally, funded by research councils, government departments and philanthropic organisations.

A full list of publications and other research activity is available at:

Current Research Projects

2020-2021 Barnahus commissioned research for the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People. Funded by the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People.

2020-2024 Evaluation of the Child’s House for Healing – Scotland’s first Barnahus. Funded by the Children's Postcode Lottery.

2020-2021 The mental health and wellbeing of youth in care and care-leavers: Development of a national collaborative research agenda. Funded by the Medical Research Council.

2020-2022 A feasibility study of a prison-based parenting programme (Families Matter). Funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

2019-2023 Young people bereaved by domestic homicide: Understanding home, relationships and identity. Funded by the Australian Research Council.

2019-2023 Developing the evidence base for innovation in social care for children and families affected by domestic abuse. Funded by the ESRC.

2019-2022 Children living with domestic violence – understanding the effects on children’s wellbeing using longitudinal data. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

2019-2022 Addressing the trauma-related distress of young people in care: A randomised feasibility trial across social-care and mental health services. Funded by the NIHR.

2018-2021 The national evaluation of the NSPCC Speak Out, Stay Safe Programme. Funded by the NSPCC.

2017-2021 Identifying and Responding to the Trauma of Maltreated Children: a screening study and a feasibility trial of trauma-informed cognitive therapy. Funded by the NSPCC and ESRC.

Child protection, Child Welfare, Domestic and gender based violence, Social work interventions, Child and Adolescent Development

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising students who wish to pursue doctoral level studies in the areas of child maltreatment; child welfare; childhood adversity; domestic violence and abuse; social work practice; evaluations of practice and interventions; adolescent mental health.

If you are interested in being supervised by John Devaney, please see the links below (opening in new windows) for more information:

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

By appointment

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Hiller RM, Davis RS, Devaney J, Halligan SL, Meiser-Stedman R, Smith P et al. Protocol for the RELATE trial: A feasibility and pilot randomised controlled trial of a low-intensity group intervention for young people in care with elevated posttraumatic stress symptoms. Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 2021 Nov 13;7(1):1-11. 204.
Devaney J, Frederick J, Spratt T. Opening the time capsule of ACEs: Reflections on how we conceptualise children’s experiences of adversity and the issue of temporality. British Journal of Social Work. 2021 Sep;51(6):2247-2263. bcaa126.
Lagdon S, Grant A, Davidson G, Devaney J, Donaghy M, Duffy J et al. Families with parental mental health problems: A systematic narrative review of family-focused practice. Child Abuse Review. 2021 Aug 26.
Grant A, Devaney J, Davidson G, Lagdon S, Duffy J. Think family, think relationship: Factors influencing stronger professional relationships with parents diagnosed with a mental illness. A qualitative study. British Journal of Social Work. 2021 Apr;51(3):945-963. bcab033.
Devaney J, (ed.), Bradbury-Jones C, (ed.), Macy RJ, (ed.), Øverlien C, (ed.), Holt S, (ed.). The Routledge International Handbook of Domestic Violence and Abuse. 1 ed. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2021. 834 p.
Devaney J. Evaluating group-based programmes for individuals who use violence and abuse in their intimate relationships. In Devaney J, Bradbury-Jones C, Macy RJ, Øverlien C, Holt S, editors, The Routledge International Handbook of Domestic Violence and Abuse. 1 ed. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 2021. p. 706-719
Kirkwood S, Devaney J, Ross B. Writing an essay. In Ross B, editor, Writing Skills for Social Work Students. Red Globe Press. 2021. (Macmillan Study Skills).
Devaney J, Davidson G, Grant A, Lagdon S. Supporting parents with mental illness and their children–developments in family focused practice in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Advances in Mental Health. 2021 Feb 22;18(3):197-201.
Skafida V, Morrison F, Devaney J. Prevalence and social inequality in experiences of domestic abuse among mothers of young children: A study using national survey data from Scotland. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2021 Jan 8.
Frederick J, Spratt T, Devaney J. Adverse childhood experiences and social work: Relationship-based practice responses. British Journal of Social Work. 2020 Oct 9.
Coulter S, Houston S, Mooney S, Devaney J, Davidson G. Attaining theoretical coherence within relationship-based practice in child and family social work: The systemic perspective. British Journal of Social Work. 2020 Jun 30;50(4):1219-1237 . bcz110.
Frederick J, Devaney J, Alisic E. Homicides and maltreatment - related deaths of disabled children: A systematic review. Child Abuse Review. 2019 Dec 24;28(5):321-338.
Spratt T, Devaney J, Frederick J. Adverse childhood experiences: Beyond signs of safety; reimagining the organisation and practice of social work with children and families. British Journal of Social Work. 2019 Dec 1;49(8):2042-2058. bcz023.
Radford L, Richardson Foster H, Hargreaves P, Devaney J. Research Review: Early Childhood and the ‘Intergenerational Cycle of Domestic Violence’. London: NSPCC, 2019. 132 p.
Devaney J. The trouble with thresholds: Rationing as a rational choice in child and family social work. Child and Family Social Work. 2019 Nov;24(4):458-466.
Millar A, Devaney J, Butler M. Emotional Intelligence: Challenging the perceptions and efficacy of ‘soft skills’ in policing incidents of domestic abuse involving children. Journal of Family Violence. 2019 Aug 15;34(6):577–588.
Michelle Butler, Andrew Percy, David Hayes, Devaney J. Designing prison based parenting programs to maximize their outcomes. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. 2019 May 1;63(7):975-992.
Wilson K, Devaney J. Promoting Contact for Children in State Care: Learning from Northern Ireland on the Development of a Framework for Assessing Contact. Child Care in Practice. 2018 Jul 12;24(3):288-303.
Elizabeth Martin, Gemma Carney, Devaney J. Older Women’s Experiences of Domestic Violence. In Holt S, Øverlien C, Devaney J, editors, Responding to Domestic Violence : Emerging Challenges for Policy, Practice and Research in Europe. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2018. p. 309-324
Holt S, (ed.), Overlien C, (ed.), Devaney J, (ed.). Responding to Domestic Violence: Emerging Challenges for Policy, Practice and Research in Europe. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018. 368 p.
Hayes D, Butler M, Devaney J, Percy A. Allowing imprisoned fathers to parent: Maximising the potential benefits of prison based parenting programmes. Child Care in Practice. 2018;24(2):181-197.
Devaney J, Hayes D, Spratt T. The influences of training and experience in removal and reunification decisions involving children at risk of maltreatment: Detecting a 'beginner dip'. British Journal of Social Work. 2017 Dec;47(8):2364-2383.
Teater B, Roy J, Carpenter J, Forrester D, Devaney J, Scourfield J. Making Social Work Count: A Curriculum Innovation to Teach Quantitative Research Methods and Statistical Analysis to Undergraduate Social Work Students in the United Kingdom. Journal of Teaching in Social Work. 2017 Oct 20;37(5):422-437.
Devaney J. Editorial. Child Care in Practice. 2017 Oct 2;23(4):325-326.
Stanley N, Devaney J. Gender-based violence: Evidence from Europe. Psychology of Violence. 2017 Jul 1;7(3):329-332.
Lamberton L, Devaney J, Bunting L. New challenges in family support: The use of digital technology in supporting parents. Child Abuse Review. 2017 Jan 5;25(5):359-372.
Teater B, Devaney J, Forrester D, Scourfield J, Carpenter J. Quantitative Research Methods for Social Work: Making Social Work Count. 1 ed. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., 2016. 288 p.
Devaney J, McConville P. Childhood neglect – the Northern Ireland experience. Research Policy and Planning. 2016 Oct 1;32(1):53-63.
Davidson G, Lagdon S, Grant A, Duffy J, Devaney J, Donaghy M et al. Health and Social Care Professionals' Family Focused Practice with Parents Who Have Mental, Illness,Their Children and Families in Northern Ireland. Health and Social Care Board, 2016.
Devaney J. Review: Using theory to design, implement and evaluate sustained nurse domestic violence screening and supportive care. Journal of Research in Nursing. 2016 Sep 1;21(5-6):443-444.
Devaney J, Lazenbatt A. Domestic Violence Perpetrators: Evidence-Informed Responses. 1 ed. London: Routledge, 2016. 168 p. (Routledge Advances in Social Work).
Devaney J, Holt S. Understanding domestic abuse and sexual violence: prevalence, policy and practice. In Healy D, Hamilton C, Daly Y, Butler M, editors, The Routledge Handbook of Irish Criminology. Routledge. 2016. p. 70-88
Benbenishty R, Davidson-Arad B, Lopez-Gonzalez M, Devaney J, Spratt T, Koopmans AC et al. Decision making in child protection: An international comparative study on maltreatment substantiation, risk assessment and interventions recommendations, and the role of professionals’ child welfare attitudes. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2015 Nov 1;49:63-75.
Spratt T, Devaney J, Hayes D. In and out of home care decisions: The influence of confirmation bias in developing decision supportive reasoning. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2015 Nov;49:76-85.
Devaney J. Research Review: The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children. Irish Probation Journal. 2015 Oct 1;12:79-94.
Bradbury-Jones C, Breckenridge JP, Devaney J, Kroll T, Lazenbatt A, Taylor J. Disabled women's experiences of accessing and utilising maternity services when they are affected by domestic abuse. BMC pregnancy and childbirth. 2015 Aug 20;15(181).
Butler M, Hayes D, Devaney J, Percy A. Strengthening Family Relations? Review of the Families Matter Programme at Maghaberry Prison. Queens University Belfast, 2015.
Devaney J. Male Perpetrators of Domestic Violence: How should we hold them to account? Political Quarterly. 2015 Jan 8;85(4):480-486.
Lazenbatt A, Bunting L, Devaney J, Hayes D. Northern Ireland Infant Death Thematic Review 2015. HSC Public Health Agency, 2015.
Hayes D, McGuigan K, Pinkerton J, Devaney J, McMurray A. Evaluation of Safety in Partnership: Phase Three Report- Moving Forward. Queens University Belfast, 2014.
Devaney J. Editorial: Research to inform and support professional practice. Child Care in Practice. 2014 Sep 29;20(4):351-352.
Breckenridge J, Devaney J, Kroll T, Lazenbatt A, Taylor J, Bradbury-Jones C. Access and utilisation of maternity care for disabled women who experience domestic abuse: a systematic review. BMC pregnancy and childbirth. 2014 Jul 17;14:1-13. 234.
Hayes D, McGuigan K, Pinkerton J, Devaney J. Evaluation of Safety in Partnership: Phase Two Report: Perspectives on Practice. Queens University Belfast, 2014.
Lazenbatt A, Devaney J. Older Women Living with Domestic Violence: Coping Resources and Mental Health and Wellbeing. Current Nursing Journal. 2014 Apr 11;1(1):10-22.
Devaney J, Bunting L, Davidson G, Hayes D, Lazenbatt A, Spratt T. The Relationship Between Cumulative Adversity in Childhood and Adolescent Suicide and Accidental Death. Developing Practice. 2014 Apr 1;38:17-31.
Anand J, Taylor B, Montgomery L, Bakircioglu O, Harper C, Devaney J et al. A Review of the Adult Safeguarding Framework in Northern Ireland, the UK, Ireland and Internationally. Comissioner of Older People Northern Ireland, 2014.
Devaney J, Reid C. Two countries, one border: the challenges and opportunities for protecting children on an all island basis: A critical turning point. In Lynch D, Burns K, editors, Children's Rights and Child Protection: Critical Times, Critical Issues in Ireland. Manchester University Press. 2013
Lazenbatt A, Devaney J, Bunting L, Hayes D. Child deaths from child abuse and neglect: Learning from the Northern Ireland case management review process. Child and Family Law Update. 2013.
Lopez-Gonzalez M, Koopmans AC, Knorth EJ, Witteman C, Benbenishty R, Davidson-Arad B et al. Cross-national comparison of caseworkers' attitudes towards child welfare issues and their impact in risk assessments and decisions to place a child out-of-home. In Canali C, Vecchiato T, editors, Foster Care in Europe: What do we Know About Outcomes and Evidence?. Zancan Publishing. 2013. p. 57-60
Lazenbatt A, Devaney J, Gildea A. Older women living and coping with domestic violence. Community Practitioner. 2013;86(2):28-32.
Devaney J, Bunting L, Hayes D, Lazenbatt A. Translating Learning Into Action: An Overview of Learning Arising from Case Management Reviews in Northern Ireland 2003-2008. DHSS&PS NI, 2013.
Devaney J. Child abuse. In Davies M, editor, The Blackwell Companion to Social Work. 4 ed. United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell. 2013. p. 139-150
Hayes D, Pinkerton J, Devaney J. Evaluation of Safety in Partnership: Phase One Report - First Impressions. Queens University Belfast, 2012.
Devaney J, Bunting L, Davidson G, Hayes D, Lazenbatt A, Spratt T. The Impact of Early Childhood Experiences on Adolescent Suicide and Accidental Death. Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, 2012. 75 p.
Devaney J. Translating Learning into Action: An Overview of How the Learning Arising from Case Management Reviews into Non-Accidental Child Deaths Can Influence Practice. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, 2012. 110 p.
Devaney J. Contact: Researching the Past to Shape the Future. Contact Counselling NI, 2012. 110 p.
Thomas N, Devaney J. Editorial: Safeguarding refugee and asylum-seeking children. Child Abuse Review. 2011 Sep 27;20(5):307-310.
Devaney J. The Pilot Crisis Response Service for Callers to the Lifeline Service Impacted by the Sexual Violence Public Awareness Campaign (Nov – Apr 2010): An Evaluation. Contact Counselling NI, 2011. 95 p.
Houston S, Spratt T, Devaney J. Mandated prevention in child welfare: Considerations from a framework shaping ethical inquiry. Journal of Social Work. 2011 Jul 1;11(3):287-305.
Devaney J, Lazenbatt A, Bunting L, Bunting L. Inquiring into non-accidental child deaths: Reviewing the review process. British Journal of Social Work . 2011 Mar 1;41(2):242-260.
Devaney J, Coman W. Reflecting on outcomes for looked-after children: An ecological perspective. Child Care in Practice. 2011 Jan 1;17(1)(1):37-53.
Devaney J. An Evaluation of the Barnardo’s Safe Choices NI Service. Barnardos/DHSSPS, 2010. 68 p.
Devaney J. Older Women’s Lifelong Experience of Domestic Violence in Northern Ireland. Changing Ageing Partnership, 2010. 130 p.
Devaney J, McAndrew F, Rodgers T. Our children and young people: Our shared. In Stafford A, Vincent S, Parton N, editors, Protecting Children and Young People : Child protection reform across the United Kingdom. Dunedin Academic Press. 2010. p. 45-61. Chapter 4
Davidson G, Devaney J, Spratt T. The impact of adversity in childhood on outcomes in adulthood: Research lessons and limitations. Journal of Social Work. 2010;10(4):369-390.
Devaney J. Children’s exposure to domestic violence: Holding men to account. Political Quarterly. 2009 Dec 1;80(4):569-574.
Devaney J, Lazenbatt A, Mahon M. The role of theory in promoting social work values and its potential effect on outcomes in work with domestically violent men. Irish Probation Journal. 2009 Sep 1;6:151-170.
Devaney J, Spratt T. Child abuse as a complex and wicked problem: Reflecting on policy developments in the United Kingdom in working with children and families with multiple problems. Children and youth services review. 2009 Jun 1;31(6):635-641.
Devaney J, McCrystal P, Hayes D, Duffy J. The Draft Protocol to Promote Inter-Agency Working with Children & Families Affected by Substance Misuse: An Evaluation. Queen's University Belfast, 2009. 53 p.
Devaney J. Safeguarding children. In Adams R, Dominelli L, Payne M, editors, Critical Practice in Social Work. Palgrave Macmillan. 2009. p. 249-259. Chapter 22
Devaney J. An evaluation of the Case Management Review process in Northern Ireland and a scoping exercise of adverse incident reporting and alternative investigative systems. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, 2009. 68 p.
Lazenbatt A, Devaney J, Bunting L. An Evaluation of the Case Management Review Process in Northern Ireland. DHSS&PS NI, 2009.
Spratt T, Devaney J. Identifying families with multiple problems: Perspectives of practitioners and managers in three nations. British Journal of Social Work . 2009;39(3):418-434.
Devaney J. Chronic child abuse and domestic violence: Children and families with long-term and complex needs. Child and Family Social Work. 2008 Jul 18;13(4):443-453.
Devaney J. Inter-professional working in child protection with families with long-term and complex needs. Child Abuse Review. 2008 May 19;17(4):242-261.
Devaney J. Challenging output based performance management in child protection. In Calder M, editor, Contemporary Risk Assessment in Safeguarding Children. Russell House Publishing. 2008. p. 15-24. Chapter 2
Devaney J. Chronic child abuse: The characteristics and careers of children caught in the child protection system. British Journal of Social Work . 2007 Jul 31;39(1):24-45.
Devaney J. Child support services. In Fitzpatrick T, Manning N, Midgely J, Kwon H, Pascall G, editors, International Encyclopedia of Social Policy. Taylor and Francis Inc. 2006
Hayes D, Devaney J. Accessing Social Work Case Files for Research Purposes: Some Issues and Problems. Qualitative Social Work . 2004 Sep 1;3(3):313-333.
Devaney J. Relating outcomes to objectives in child protection. Child and Family Social Work. 2004 Feb 1;9(1):27-38.
Devaney J. The fifth national congress of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect: Child maltreatment: Strenthening the links-research, policy and practice 20–23 July 2003 York, England. Child Care in Practice. 2003 Oct;9(4):336-338.
Devaney J, Spratt T. The fourteenth national conference on child abuse & neglect: Gateways to prevention, 31 March–5 April 2003, St Louis, Missouri, USA. Child Care in Practice. 2003 Jul;9(3):251-255.
Devaney J. Integrating a Research Focus into Supervision and Management Processes. 2002. Paper presented at Promoting Research and Evidence-based Practice , Templepatrick, United Kingdom.
Devaney J. An evaluation of the criteria used in decision making in child protection referrals. Child Care in Practice. 1999 Apr;5(2):151-160.