18-20 April 2018 | University of Edinburgh
Bill Whyte

University of Edinburgh, Scotland

2.21 Chrystal Macmillan Building
15a George Square

Career History

Bill Whyte has worked as a generic social work manager with special responsibility for managing court, adult and youth justice services; as a field social worker in the Lothians area of Scotland; and as a residential care worker in a former List D School. He became a Lecturer in Social Work in 1983, working part time for five years in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital as a social worker and later as an independent local authority chair of child protection. He established the first national Masters (MSc) programme in Advanced Social Work Studies in Criminal Justice (which ran from 1991-2008), which was funded by Scottish Government, when Scotland re-established specialist probation (criminal justice social work) provision. He was Director of the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre for Scotland from 2001-2013,based at the University of Edinburgh, which was also funded by Scottish Government to promote research and best practice in criminal and youth justice social work.

Bill Whyte was awarded a CBE in the 2015 New Year's Honours List for services to youth justice.

Current Research Interests

Bill Whyte’s current research activity involves Restoration in Serious Crime (RISC); supporting young people make positive transitions to the community from instiutional provision; and Young People involved in serious and organised crime.   His recent research has also involved Children and Young People subject to MAPPA in Scotland; Children and Young People involved in sexually harmful behaviour. He has recently provided research consultancy for colleagues at Ipsos Mori, the University of Stirling and the University of Glasgow in their evaluation of the Scottish Government's Reducing Reoffending Change Fund published in 2016 and for Ipsos MORI, who undertook an evaluation of the Caledonian System (domestic violence) funded by Scottish Government in 2016.

Bill has been Principal or Co- Investigator in many commissioned research projects including for example

  • Restoration in Serious Crime (RISC) (2012-2013) Scottish Government funded
  • Routes out of Prison (2010-2012) phase 2, Big Lottery funded     
  • Routes out of Prison (2007-2009) phase 1, Scottish Government funded     
  • Parenting Orders (2007-2009) Scottish Government funded     
  • Community Reparation Orders (2005-2008) Scottish Government funded     
  • Children in trouble with the Law in Europe (2000-2001) EU funded     
  • Children’ Hearings (1996-1999) Scottish Executive funded     
  • Mental Health Officers (1987-1990) Scottish Executive funded



Doing SW in a global and local context: the role of research

Global definitions of social work portray social work as a profession which 'promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people' (IFSW 2014) and having a radical role in promoting rights and responses to inequalities and a focus on the collective  as well as individual responsibility. Such definitions may in themselves  be viewed as aspirational, self promotional or simply as over ambitious. However the growing impact of international treaties and associated standards e.g UNCRC and its associated guidance and monitoring system, as well as European Standards such as Child friendly Justice, are setting benchmarks for service provision and practice that have real life implications for social work that cannot be detached from issues of social policies, social structures and inequalities in respective jurisdictions.  This raises challenges, theoretical, ethical and empirical on the operation of social work within  its socio- cultural context, on paradigms for practice and the role of research in providing a critical perspective on the current place and purpose of social work and its direction of travel towards international obligations.This paper will explore developments in Scottish social work over the last 50 years to examine these  issues.