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Please find our DBS Conference speakers below.

Conference speakers

Eric Robinson

Eric Robinson - DBS Chief Executive

Eric Robinson has been Chief Executive of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) since July 2019. Previously Eric worked as CEO for Wirral borough council where he helped transform the organisation, and introduce new strategies to better manage performance, delivery and finances.
Eric has significant experience working in safeguarding and has held roles as Corporate Director for Social Care and Health, and as Director of Social Services for Cambridgeshire County Council.
Some of the Chief Executive’s responsibilities include:
  • working with the Chair, non-executive directors and executive directors to deliver DBS’ statutory safeguarding responsibilities
  • leading the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and broader Senior Delivery Team (SDT) to ensure that DBS offers the highest quality of service to our customers
  • working with and advising the board on the operational implications of government policy and legislative developments concerning DBS
  • ensuring DBS uses modern digital technologies to improve productivity, efficiency and customer service
Karen Leach

Karen Leach - Expert by Lived Experience in Child Sexual Abuse

Safe Sport Advocate; VOICE Ambassador (Voices for Truth and Dignity Combatting Sexual Violence in European Sport through the Voices of Those affected); Sport England Advisory Panel, Psychotherapist, Counsellor.

As a child, Karen was recognized as a talented swimmer with strong aspirations and a realistic chance of representing Ireland at the Olympic Games. Between the ages of 10 and 17, Karen spent endless hours in the swimming pool. During this time, Karen was routinely abused by her coach. 

Karen is working to create a greater level of awareness and to encourage safer spaces for children and young people in sport, working regularly with national and international organizations both in advisory and public speaking capacities.

At the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, Karen spoke at the first ever Olympism in Action forum, she also assisted the International Olympic Committee in educating athletes and entourage members about this important topic. 
Alex Fox OBE

Alex Fox OBE - CEO, Shared Lives

Alex is CEO of Shared Lives Plus, the UK network for Shared Lives and Homeshare. Members include 6,000 Shared Lives carers who share their homes and family life with people who need support and 175 local organisations. Alex sits on the NHS Assembly and Personalised Care Advisory Board and is Vice Chair of the Think Local, Act Personal board, leading its Building Community Capacity network. He is a trustee of the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Alex is an Honorary Senior Fellow, Birmingham University and London South Bank University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He chaired the government’s review of health and care charities. He was awarded an OBE for services to social care in the 2017 New Year’s Honours. Alex is author of A new health and care system: escaping the invisible asylum (Policy Press: 30% discount quoting POSLHC18) and a popular blog. 
David Smellie

David Smellie - Partner, Farrer & Co

David is regarded as the top safeguarding lawyer in the UK, advising on the handling of serious or high-profile safeguarding cases, either past or present and on creating safer systems in organisations.

David founded the firm's Safeguarding Unit which advises organisations either working or coming into contact with children.  These include schools, universities, charities, churches and religious organisations, visitor attractions, and sports clubs.  He is well known for his role in advising on the William Vahey serious case review and more recently in advising Chelsea Football Club on its review of non-recent child sexual abuse.

Tel: +44(0) 203 375 7000 Email: [email protected]
Helena Dennett

Helena Dennett - Head of Inspection Adult Social Care North West Region, CQC

Helena started her career as a State Registered Nurse (SRN) in 1982 and worked in the St. Helens and Knowsley area for a number of years taking on a variety of roles.

Helena secured a post as a Registration and Inspection officer with South Cheshire Health Authority in 1998 and later progressed to a senior post as Compliance Manager with the Care Quality Commission.

Helena was promoted to Head of Inspection (Adult Social Care) in the North West region in October 2017.


Adele Eastman - Senior Associate, Farrer & Co

Adele advises charities (from a UK and overseas perspective), sports organisations and governing bodies, and schools, on wide range of areas including best practice in safeguarding governance, safer recruitment, organisational culture, risk assessments, responding to concerns/allegations, handling safeguarding crises, safeguarding audits/reviews, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, low-level concerns, peer-on-peer abuse, mental health issues, and on-line safety.
Richard Fawkes

Richard Fewkes - National Coordinator Non-recent Child Sexual Abuse

Richard is responsible for ensuring the delivery of the national strategy to coordinate all investigations into non-recent child sexual abuse involving persons of public prominence or within an institutional setting. He is also leading work with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse on behalf of the National Police Chiefs Council. 

Richard took up this post in July 2014, after serving as a senior leader with South Yorkshire Police; a career that spanned over 30 years. As a senior detective, he has managed local crime, covert operations, major crime, kidnap, hostage negotiation, disaster victim identification and public protection portfolios. In addition he has previously delivered a number of national projects, including the Professionalising the Investigation Process, the Street Crime Initiative, the Prolific and Priority Offenders Project, Conditional Cautioning and Restorative Justice.   
Richard is an experienced Senior Investigating Officer, having led the investigation of more than 30 murder investigations over a number of years and many other complex and major crime enquiries. He was one of the first officers nationally to be accredited as a PIP 4 SIO.  He left his post as Head of Major Crime and Public Protection in 2014 to take up his current role.

Workshop speakers

Dominic Headley

Dominic Headley - Consultant in recruiting safely and fairly

Dominic is the founder of Dominic Headley & Associates (DHA), a specialist consultancy practice that provides expert advice, training and support to employers and other organisations so that they can recruit safely and fairly. 

Dominic is considered one of the UK’s foremost experts on managing criminal records issues within the workplace and a trusted expert adviser to numerous government departments on criminal record policy matters. 

He was previously a legal officer for social justice charity, Nacro, and author of the Nacro guide Recruiting safely and fairly: a practical guide to employing ex-offenders – developed in partnership with DBS and the CIPD.
Cath Edginton

Cath Edginton - Senior Safeguarding Lead and Casework Subject Matter Expert, Charity Commission

Cath joined the Charity Commission from the Metropolitan Police after 31 years of service. Throughout her police service Cath has been involved in the policing areas of safeguarding and public protection working across a wide range of diverse and vulnerable groups to challenge crime and promote safeguarding.  Her current role is to drive the external and internal implementation of the Commission’s safeguarding strategy and to develop the Commission’s operational safeguarding capabilities through the provision of guidance and advice on policy and operational casework. She intends to develop new and existing relationships with external partners in order to raise awareness of the Commission and to have an impact on how safeguarding issues across the charity sector are approached and managed. 
Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas - Programme Head for Workforce Innovation, Skills for Care

Jim Thomas is Skills for Care’s Programme Head for Workforce Innovation. Skills for Care is the employer led workforce development body for adult social care workforce development in England.
Jim leads a broad range of national programmes of workforce Innovation. These include developing and testing a framework for workforce redesign in adult social care, the development of principles for workforce integration.

His current work includes workforce commissioning, a commissioning for wellbeing qualification, developing the workforce supporting people with a learning disability and the workforce supporting people with autism and exploring workforce issue around all aspects of digital working, learning, information sharing and the use of data.

Liza Ware

Liza Ware - NSPCC

Liza Ware joined the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) in March 2018 after 19 years’ experience in front line Child Protection and Children’s Rights work.
Since joining the team she has supported sports organisations to develop and embed their safeguarding policies and procedures, delivered a wide range of safeguarding training, and provided case advice to a range of sports.  Within CPSU Liza leads on areas including safer recruitment, equality and diversity.
As well as her extensive professional safeguarding background, Liza brings her own experience as a Netball Club Welfare Officer, coach, umpire, and player to her current role.
Renny Wodynska

Renny Wodynska - Head of the Midlands Area, Skills for Care

Renny Wodynska, Skills for Care, has worked in social care since 1981. This included 10 years as Director of Supported Housing, responsible for a range of CQC registered services, when she was Safeguarding Lead for the organisation.

She was shortlisted for an award for her work on Safeguarding and the Social Housing sector and was a member of Birmingham Council’s Safeguarding Adults Operations Group.  Renny has worked as Head of the Midlands Area for Skills for Care since 2016. She was honoured to receive the first “Excellence in Care Award” for Outstanding Contribution to Care from West Midlands Care Association in April 2018
Shelley Valiant

Shelley Valiant - Deputy Safeguarding Lead and Casework Subject Matter Expert, Charity Commission

Shelley Valiant joined the Charity Commission as the Deputy Safeguarding Lead and Casework Subject Matter Expert in January 2019.

She arrived at the Charity Commission having spent 20 years with Merseyside Police.  Shelley felt very privileged to have an exciting and varied career within the police service working on various teams in Liverpool, spending the last 10 years as a Detective investigating complex and serious crime.  For the last 3 years Shelley has been involved in the policing areas of safeguarding and public protection working across a wide range of diverse and vulnerable groups, including individuals involved in exploitation and county line crimes. 

Her current role is to support the Commissions Safeguarding lead on the development of the Commission’s operational safeguarding capabilities by providing guidance and advice on operational casework and to assist on the delivery of internal and external implementation of the Commissions safeguarding strategy.


Beverley Smith

Beverley Smith - Senior Policy Advisor, Department for Education

Bev has worked in DfE for a number of years and has experience of various policy areas across the Department. She leads on policy development for statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education which provides guidance to schools and colleges on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.  

Fiona O’Carroll - Senior Policy Advisor, DBS

Fiona has worked in DBS policy since 2016. She has experience of working with a variety of stakeholders and customers.  In particular, supporting them to understand the changing landscape of DBS checks and the important safeguarding message of how organisations can meet their duty or power to refer. She answers internal and external stakeholder queries as well as producing website guidance and leaflets for specific sectors.

Georgina Whitfield - Barring Transformation Business Change Manager & Action Learning Team Manager, DBS

Having previously worked in a young offender institute, Georgina joined the Independent Safeguarding Authority in 2008 as a Casework Decision maker. Since then, she has performed several roles within DBS including training facilitator, mentor, project delivery and Team Leader.

Having been involved in safeguarding decision making for over 10 years she has gained a comprehensible knowledge about the work of DBS and is proud to be part of a safeguarding network keeping vulnerable groups safe from harm.

Nicola Boggon - Barring Operations Caseworker, DBS

Nicola is a Barring Operations Caseworker for the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Nicola has been employed in this role for four years, with experience on casework teams making barring decisions and more recently supporting early case screening and making allocation decisions on the Autobar team.  She has a professional background in social work and continues her work within the safeguarding arena, supporting barring decisions to help to prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups. She is proud to be a foster carer also.
K Walsh

Kimberley Walsh - Safeguarding Adults in Sport Manager, Ann Craft Trust

Kimberley joined the Ann Craft Trust in September 2019 in a new role funded by UK Sport. Prior to this, Kimberley worked for 12 years for a National Governing Body in a variety of roles including development and participation, safeguarding and compliance. Her work within safeguarding involved the proactive work of developing and embedding awareness, best practice and understanding of safeguarding both children and adults across all levels of sport, from club and volunteers to elite and paid staff. Having been involved in sport for over 30 years, including representing Great Britain and training as a full-time athlete, she is passionate about athlete welfare and wellbeing as well as helping make sport a safe and enjoyable place for everyone to take part.
Richard Bunting

Richard Bunting - Policy Officer, Department of Education

Richard joined the DfE as a policy official just over two years ago, having previously worked for the Rural Payment Agency in a number of roles. He works on a team responsible for a number of safeguarding policies, including Keeping children safe in education and the Childcare disqualification regulations. He is responsible for complex case work involving allegations made against teachers and other staff in maintained schools and failure to meet safeguarding and safer recruitment standards.

Meg Lewis - Shared Lives Plus Ambassador

Meg Lewis is a prolific speaker and campaigner for mental health and passionate about making the health and social care system more personal, from the inside. She works with Shared Lives Plus as an Ambassador and in 2019, she won the Shared Lives Plus award for human rights. Her nomination describes her as “devastatingly authentic… she inspired us to respond not as a service to a user, but as humans to a human.” After four years in a mental health hospital, Meg is fulfilling her ambitions to live independently, with Flower, her dog, and continues to support others in her town. She has just released her latest film ‘Shared Lives saved my life’ with support from NHS England.

Titanic Hotel, Liverpool — Thursday, 12 March 2020

Register now