Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Emeritus Professor Janet Walker OBE

Emeritus Professor



Janet Walker is Emeritus Professor of Family Policy and Strategic Research Adviser in IHS.She studied social sciences and began her career as a researcher shortly after completing her post-graduate studies. She then trained as a Probation Officer, and practised in the fields of civil and criminal justice for some eight years before returning to academic life. For the last twenty five years she has pursued research in family studies and taught in social policy and socio-legal studies. Between 1985 and 2005 she was Director of Newcastle Centre for Family Studies.


1964-1967 University of York, BA Hons (II(i)) Sociology
1969 University of York, BPhil (Sociology/Social Policy)
1970 Rowley House, Oxford. Qualified and appointed as Home Office Approved Probation Officer
Haynes Mediation Training Institute, New York. Qualified to practice in Comprehensive Family Mediation
TSB Group Management College. Total Quality Management

Previous Positions

1997-2007 Director, Newcastle Centre for Family Studies, Newcastle University
1993-1997 Director, Relate Centre for Family Studies, Newcastle University
1993-1995 Director of Research and Policy, Relate - Marriage Guidance
1990-1996 Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, Newcastle University
1989-1997 Associate Director, Centre for Research on Crime, Policing and the Community, Newcastle University
1988-1993 Director Family and Community Dispute Research Centre, Newcastle University
1985-1988 Co-Director Conciliation Project Unit, Newcastle University
1979-1985 Lecturer in Social Work, Department of Social Policy, Newcastle University (Probation Tutor 1981-1985)
1978-1979 Lecturer in Social Work, Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic
1974-1985 Part Time Tutor: Open University Northern Region. Foundation Course - Social Science. 3rd Level Course - Crime in Society
1974-1978 Probation Officer, Northumbria Probation Service
1969-1974 Probation Officer, West Sussex Probation Service
1967-1968 Junior Research Fellow, Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of York


Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Honours and Awards

Fellow of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences; Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award USA; Order of the British Empire (OBE)


Research Interests

Marriage and Divorce, Family Law Reform, Interventions in family life (esp. relating to separating and divorcing families), Youth Justice (esp. early intervention and prevention programmes), Parenting in post-modern society, Family relationships and family communication, Family support services

Other Committee Expertise

Member and Deputy Chair of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), Department for Work and Pensions 2002-2013; Trustee and Vice Chair Family and Parenting Institute, London 2003-2013; Advisor Services Support Advisory Committee, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen Families Association (SSAFA), London 2005-2008; Board Member Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, Calgary, Alberta 1991-present; Board Member and Chair of International Committee Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, USA 1999-2008; Advisor on divorce law reform, British Council Chile 2004-2006; Editorial Board Family and Conciliation Courts Review, USA 1995-2011; Editorial Board 21st Century Society The Journal of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences 2004-2008; Member of 17 research advisory groups between 1987 and 2013.

Current Work

Since 2010, have undertaken a portfolio of research consultancy and pro-bono charity work. This has included research consultant to Department of Education evaluation of family support services; member of family breakdown working group, Centre for Social Justice; member of the Mediation Steering Group, Ministry of Justice; member of the Mediation Task Force, Ministry of Justice; Chair of the St George's House Group on relationship support, London; pre-proceedings dispute resolution steering group, Family Justice Council; Trustee and Council Member of Relate, Chair of the Policy and Research Advisory Group and Chair of the Services Committee; trustee of Safe Families for Children.

 Continuing to publish widely in professional and peer-reviewed journals and co-edited international text on contemporary issues in family studies, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2014. 


Esteem Indicators

Order of the British Empire, 2010; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts since 1995; Fellow of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences since 2002; awarded the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award (USA) for contributions to policy development internationally in 2005; invited to contribute to developments in family law reform since retiring in 2010.

Research Funding

£4,816,469 since 2000


Postgraduate Research Students

The Housesteads Murders (MPhil). Awarded July 2000
The Impact of Parental Separation and Divorce on Children: Knowns and Unknowns (PhD). Awarded December 2000
Domestic Violence: Perspectives from Primary Care and the Tensions of Theory and Practice for Learning in Multi-disciplinary Teams (PhD). Awarded December 2002
Romania's "Orphans": Developmental Adjustment in Adolescents Living in State Care Institutions (PhD). Awarded November 2003
Divorce Mediation in the United Kingdom: Practice Beliefs, Strategies and Techniques (PhD). Awarded September 2004
ESRC Post-doctoral Research Fellowship 2005-2006

An examination of the effectiveness of initial training for new police recruits in promoting appropriate attitudes and behaviour for twenty first century policing (PhD). Awarded December 2012