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Dr Kate Brown

BA (Sheffield) MA (Leeds) PhD (Leeds)

  • Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology

Visit Dr Kate Brown's profile on the York Research Database to see a full list of publications and browse her research related activities.


Areas of expertise

  • Care and control of vulnerable people
  • The governance of vulnerability
  • Vulnerability and policing

My research explores how vulnerability is lived, governed and understood. I am especially interested in how welfare and criminal justice interventions shape the lives of ‘vulnerable’ people. Groups I have researched and written about have included vulnerable young people, sexually exploited children, sex workers, people who use drugs and young men served with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. I have written widely on the concept of vulnerability and its mobilisation in support and discipline, including my monograph Vulnerability and Young People: Care and Control in Policy and Practice. I am Deputy Director of the ESRC-funded Vulnerability and Policing Futures Research Centre and work on the Centre's County Lines and Views on Vulnerability studies.

Before working as an academic I worked in the voluntary sector for nearly ten years in services for vulnerable groups. This experience had a strong influence on my research interests. I worked as a support worker for sex workers and sexually exploited young women, moving into a national children’s charity policy/participation role on child sexual exploitation (CSE). I then worked as a manager at a young people’s drugs service and for Leeds Women's Aid. For fifteen years I was a Trustee/Chair of Trustees for Basis Yorkshire, an award-winning third sector support and advocacy project for sex workers and sexually exploited young people.

As research lead on Leeds City Council's Prostitution Strategic Partnership (2014-2016), a study I conducted informed the development of a policing model in Leeds which prioritises protection of sex workers rather than enforcement (the Leeds ‘managed approach’). A more recent study looked at the role of the Sex Work Liaison Officer (SWLO) as a form of policing vulnerability; working with police, sex workers and sex work support services to develop best practice models in these roles. I have an interest in co-production with those deemed vulnerable and in 2016 worked with young people who had experienced sexual exploitation to make an animation and set of resources about moving on from CSE (a partnership with Basis Yorkshire).



Brown, K., Ellis, K. and Smith, K. (2020) 'Vulnerability as lived experience: marginalised women and girls in the UK', in Kronen, M. Virokannas, E. and Salovaara, U. Women, Vulnerabilities and Welfare Service Systems. Routledge: London. pp. 13-26

Brown, K. and Wincup E. (2020) 'Producing the vulnerable subject in English drug policy', International Journal of Drug Policy, 80: 102525

Brown, K., Redman, S. and Grace, S. (2019) Policing Vulnerability: Learning from the sex work liaison officer role in West Yorkshire Police N8 Policing Research Partnership.

Brown, K. (2019) ‘Vulnerability and Child Sexual Exploitation: Towards an approach grounded in life experiences’, Critical Social Policy, 39 (4): 622-642

Brown, K. and Sanders, T. (2017) ‘Pragmatic, Progressive, Problematic: Addressing vulnerability through a local street sex work partnership initiative’, Social Policy and Society, 16 (3): 429-441.

Brown, K. (2017) ‘The Governance of Vulnerability:  Regulation, support and social divisions in action’, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 37 (11-12): 667-682

Brown, K., Ecclestone, K. and Emmel, N. (2017) ‘The Many Faces of Vulnerability’, Social Policy and Society, 16 (3): 497-510. From sole-edited collection on ‘Vulnerability and Social Justice’

Brown, K. (2017) ‘Global ‘vulnerabilities’: New configurations of competition in the era of conditionality?’ in Horsfall, D. and Hudson, J. (eds) Social Policy in an Era of Competition: From Global to Local perspectives, pp. 149-165

Brown, K. (2016) Breaking Through: Moving on from Child Sexual Exploitation, University of York and Basis Yorkshire. Available online.

Brown, K. (2015) Vulnerability and Young People: Care and Social Control in Policy and Practice. Bristol: The Policy Press. Further details.

Brown, K. (2014) 'Questioning the Vulnerability Zeitgeist: Care and control practices with ‘vulnerable’ young people', Social Policy and Society, 13 (3): 371-387.

Brown, K. (2014) 'Beyond Protection: 'The vulnerable' in the age of austerity' in Harrison, M. and Sanders, T. (eds) Social Policies and Social Control: New Perspectives on the Not-so- Big Society. Bristol: The Policy Press, pp. 39-55.

Brown, K. and Moore, J. (2014) Prostitution in Leeds: Preliminary Scoping Research, University of York and Safer Leeds. Research conducted for Leeds Prostitution Strategic Partnership. Brown and Moore - Prostitution in Leeds - Executive Summary (PDF , 419kb)

Brown, K. (2012) 'Re-moralising ‘Vulnerability’', People, Place and Policy Online, 6 (1): 41-53. Available online.

Brown, K. and Patrick, R. (2012) 'Re-moralising or De-moralising? The Coalition government’s approach to ‘problematic’ populations: editorial', People, Place and Policy Online, 6 (1): 1-2. Available online.

Brown, K. (2011) ‘‘Vulnerability’: Handle with Care’, Journal of Ethics and Social Welfare, 5 (3): 313-321.

Brown, K. (2011) ‘Beyond Badges of Honour: Young People’s Perceptions of their Anti-Social Behaviour Orders’, People, Place and Policy Online, 5 (1): 12-24. Available online.

Kate Brown in Church Lane

Contact details

Dr Kate Brown
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology Programme Leader Social and Public Policy and Social Research
School for Business and Society

Tel: 01904 32 1241