Posts tagged ‘caada’

February 22, 2015

A taster for Wednesday….

On Wednesday we are holding our annual national conference with the theme of ‘Getting Right First Time.’ We will be looking at different ways to respond sooner to victims, children and perpetrators.  Our keynote speaker in the morning with be Dr Eamon McCrory from UCL who will talk about the impact of domestic abuse on the brain development of young children.  In case you want a bit more information about this – and the wider impact on the health of adults.  See this TED talk from Dr Nadine Burke Harris with some amazingly powerful messages.

Ok, maybe more than a taster….this talk has had 320,000 views already.

March 1, 2014

Thoughts from Michael Johnson’s work – Practical Implications

We had a terrific keynote speech from Professor Mike Johnson at our National Conference on Wednesday.  He explained his work around typologies of relationship in domestic abuse.  He highlighted three main types (see for more info) – Intimate Partner Terrorism where one partner – usually a man in heterosexual relationships – ‘terrorises’ the other, Situational Couple Violence where there is typically an equal split between male and female victims and perpetrators (although not necessarily in terms of impact) and finally ‘Violent Resistance’, where the partner of an ‘intimate terrorist’ will try and defend themselves in a violent way.  The first category is much smaller in number than the second, but with a much higher percentage of high risk cases because of the persistent existence of coercive control.  The second is by far the largest in terms of number of cases but most of these never come to the attention of public or specialist agencies such as police, IDVAs, refuges etc because the level of severity is typically much lower – although a significant percentage (about a quarter) do involve severe violence albeit without coercion and control.  The last category is very small.

So what are the implications of his research?  Firstly, it gives us a clear way to unlock the prevalence debate around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men.  Both figures are right.  But the bulk of the violence where men are victims fits into the Situational Couple Violence category and we need to treat it in a different way.  In Situational Couple Violence, Mike’s research shows that about one third of cases involve men being violent to women, one third involve women being violent to men and one third are bi-directional.  Most do not involve patterns of violence and none involve coercion.  These are typically arguments and conflict that get out of control and where there is a violent incident.  In many cases this is a one off.  This is borne out by the crime survey for England and Wales which shows that about a third (I quote from memory) of cases are resolved in a month.  This is not the sort of coercion, violence and control that we see in our work.

Secondly, it has clear implications for the family courts in particular in relation to children.  Mike describes the impact of Intimate Partner Terrorism as the ‘poison’ that infects a family and leaves children exposed to constant stress.  You will all be familiar with the literature about the impact of this on the neurological development of small children.  The courts and those arranging contact between children and their parents need to get real clarity around this.

Thirdly, at a time when the police and others are reviewing the use of risk assessment, does this have a message for front line officers?  My sense is no.  There is a level of sophistication in distinguishing between different types of relationship which probably won’t be done most effectively at 3 in the morning. Front line officers need to collect evidence, safeguard the parties involved in an incident and manage the immediate risk that they are faced with.

Does it have implications for the work of specialists in the field?  My sense is yes.  At its most basic, many people in our field still speak about high risk as if it didn’t include coercion and control.  I feel as if there can’t be anyone left who doesn’t understand that coercion is totally linked to risk – as well of course as significant physical violence.  However, apparently there are!  When I listen to people saying: “Half of the homicide reviews were of standard risk cases” I do want to say that they really were NOT!  But they might have been hidden to public agencies or we didn’t spot the coercion and control because there was little or no physical violence disclosed, or because the person doing the risk assessment didn’t understand its significance.  I really would commend to practitioners the severity of abuse grid that we have put in the IDVA version of the DASH checklist (  see pages 8 and 9).  Look at the examples of coercion and control included under sexual abuse, stalking and harassment and jealous and controlling behaviour.  As an aside, we are in favour of streamlining the DASH tool for police – but anxious not to confuse the tool itself from the training and supervision required to implement ANY tool effectively.  College of Policing please note!!

More broadly, I think that the options we offer those in Intimate Partner Terrorism relationships are broadly appropriate.  However, we offer the same interventions to those experiencing Situational Couple Violence – and Mike argued very convincingly that the dynamics are not the same.  Our data show that only about 15% of victims supported by IDVA services do not disclose jealous and controlling behaviour – perhaps they are in  situational couple violence relationships? Mike’s research shows that a significant percentage of these do not want to split up – but this is broadly the only option we are offering them today.  I say this with great caution – BUT – if someone is genuinely in a Situational Couple Violence relationship, surely we should be looking at work with the couple and even anger management?  These are all interventions that are traditionally seen as unsafe where Intimate Partner Terrorism is involved.

Mike was very clear that our starting point must be to assume Intimate Partner Terrorism and safety plan as if this was the case.  However, his analysis does give us a few more options if, and only if, a real risk expert, with a capital ‘E’, establishes that this is not the case.

March 1, 2014

Michael Johnson on different typologies of domestic violence

Brief excerpt of Michael Johnson’s speech for the CAADA National Conference 2014 including implications for children. See more on our website at

February 27, 2013

What a day! #CAADAconf

Just winding down after the CAADA National Conference that we held in London today which I felt was a great success thanks to some terrific speakers, workshop leaders and a really engaged audience.  We focused in particular on young people experiencing different forms of abuse and were very pleased to be able to announce our new Young People’s Violence Advocacy Programme (yes, as usual we have managed to create an accurate albeit long winded name of one of our programmes!), which will be funded by the Dept for Education.   More on that in future posts!

The morning featured our key note speaker, Prof Jenny Pearce from the University of Bedfordshire who spoke with extraordinary insight and compassion about the experiences of young people – particularly in relation to sexual abuse, but also more widely in relation to gang violence, domestic abuse and wider forms of violence.  She really brought alive the reality for many young people and the extent to which they are often failed by statutory services today.  She invited us all to think through how we can try and change this and urged us to ensure that we listen to young people as we do this.  You can find out more about her work and her publications at 

Jenny was followed by the courageous parents of Carly Fairhurst who was murdered by her boyfriend when she was just 19.  I can’t begin to capture the power of their words – suffice to say that there was not a dry eye in the room.  As one of the members of the audience said, their words re-energised us all and reminded us why we do this work.

In the afternoon we had real insights from Robert McCulloch-Graham, seconded from his role as Director of Children’s Services in Barnet to the Troubled Families Unit.  He focused on the value of partnership working, MARAC and the need for dedicated lead workers for families – with the clear impact this has on outcomes.  No surprise perhaps to the audience – but he confirmed that almost all the families who are getting support via the Troubled Families programme have had domestic abuse as a feature at some point.

As if we had not had enough to get us all thinking, the terrific Certain Curtain theatre company did a production of their beautiful play, Mocking Bird High.  Tracing the impact of domestic abuse on two teenage children and their mother, they really touched the audience.  Everyone was transfixed.

We had great workshops on homicide reviews, perpetrator work, substance use, HBV, stalking and working with children living with domestic abuse.  I hope all who attended enjoyed it as much as I did.  It almost feels like we should get going on the next one….

November 20, 2012

A Place of Greater Safety – Insights 1

It was a proud moment today when we published our first major policy report ‘A Place of Greater Safety’, using data collected by domestic abuse practitioners all around the country.  It is important because:

  1. It includes data from about 2500 victims and their children – highlighting the type of abuse they suffer and putting the real experience of victims at the heart of our recommendations, of practice and of policy.
  2. It makes the case for mainstreaming funding for IDVAs and MARACs
  3. It shows how putting IDVAs in hospital settings could help identify 10,000 high risk victims and their children who are getting no support today
  4. It includes the first substantial information on the abuse suffered by teenagers – a group who will become more visible with the change in the definition of domestic abuse to include 16 and 17 year olds.
  5. It highlights the impact of domestic abuse on children and gives commissioners simple actions to address this.
  6. It is aimed at local commissioners – those with the responsibility and the funding to address the problems.
  7. It gives clear objective evidence which we hope will underpin local and national policy.
  8. And it is part of a body of data that is growing every year so there is CAADA Insights 2, 2013 to look forward to!

I would really like to thank those practitioners who use the CAADA Insights service and our early funders who had the vision to back this approach before its benefits and value were really visible.  And also the fantastic team at CAADA who have worked day (and all too often at night) to put this together.

Please make sure your local commissioners know that this is now available – it could make all the difference.  You can download the report from our website at

Despite my best efforts #aPOGS may not be trending yet on Twitter…but there is still time….

August 4, 2012

Celebrating Success – ASSIST service to cover all of Strathclyde

Following on from my last post, the other bit of great news from the news of funding for VAWG services in Scotland, is the decision to roll out the ASSIST service across the whole of the Strathclyde police force area.  ASSIST provides a great IDVA service and set up the first Scottish MARAC a few years ago.  It is heartwarming to see their hard work rewarded in this way at a time when growth and expansion are hardly the order of the day.

ASSIST have been friends of CAADA’s since day 1 – I think we were set up at almost the same time.  Deb Nicholson the first manager came on our first IDVA training course in 2005, and her successor Mhairi McGowan attended a couple of years later.  They were one of the grantees from the Hestia Fund and we even managed to hire one of the IDVAs, Lucy McDonald who continues to train for us.  Now we are working with them and Scottish Women’s Aid to deliver accredited training for domestic abuse practitioners in Scotland – and very proud to do so.  I don’t know many people who have been as unstintingly positive, reliable and generous as Mhairi – so to her and her team – CONGRATULATIONS!  The women of Strathclyde will be safer as a result of this decision.


July 27, 2012

What have standard bed charts in hospital and MARAC got in common?

This blog post may not be immediately catchy and appealing as it deals with forms, recording, and consistency.  But it is important – so please read on….

There was a lot of attention in the news this morning about the need for standard records to be used in hospital to record a patient’s vital signs, with the suggestion that 6,000 lives a year could be saved by this simple step.

We couldn’t save 6,000 lives if everyone used the standard MARAC forms that already exist  (see  but we could be much more confident of getting the full picture of a victim’s experience and the risks that they face if everyone used them.  If you aren’t using them at your MARAC, please let me know why not.  This is still the most likely place that we can get the full picture of risk, and where we have the most options to safety plan in a coordinated way.

It may sound a bit dull but almost every time we hear of a serious case review or homicide review, the same things come up about not seeing the whole picture.  Getting some simple basic things right can change that for adult and child victims alike.

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July 15, 2012

Outnumbered….working with MARACs this year

We recently finalised our plans for working with all 260 MARACs across England and Wales this year.  We do feel a bit outnumbered – 260 MARACs, over 55,000 adult cases and 75,000 children’s cases heard annually and a mighty CAADA team of 5 MARAC development officers based around England and Wales – each supporting about 50 MARACs.  A challenge?  Of course.

So how will we make it work? Our plan is to make the most of our assets which we think include:

a)     a full time focus on MARAC activity and information – agency representatives are engaged with their ‘day jobs’,

b)     an overview position – developed from engaging with MARACs across the region and country,

c)      reach – which enables us to disseminate learning points, models of good practice and outcomes to all the MARACs, and

d)     influence – in being able to channel upwards to Government consolidated MARAC information from across the country

Each MARAC Development Officer (MDO in CAADA-speak) will work in several different ways with the MARACs in their region.  Firstly, they will each have a specific time-limited project which can be shared for all MARACs to learn from e.g. reviewing the challenges & successes of referrals for disabled victims and/or minority ethnic victims.  They will also visit the MARACs in their region, and support some in the use of the new CAADA self assessment tool which is currently being piloted.  (Thank you to those MARACs who are part of this pilot).  All will continue to have access to our workshops for IDVAs, Coordinators and Chairs in their region as well as the option of working directly with the MDO on specific issues either arising from practice or policy.

All of this will be complimented by our continued commitment to the use of data to inform this work.  You will be aware of our recent outcome analysis, looking at police data for 350 cases at 15 different MARACs for 12 months pre and post MARAC.  We are now working to develop this further both by extending the number of MARACs where we do the analysis and by adding more agencies to the outcome analysis.  Our MARAC help desk ( ) is available for all practitioners to use.  If we don’t have the answer, we usually can find someone who does. Finally, we hope you have noticed the best practice examples that we are including in our e-newsletter.  These will continue, so please tell us if you feel you are doing something particularly well at your MARAC.  We are also exploring social media as a way of linking MARAC practitioners…but I am not sure that is official yet so I had better stop there!

For more information about the programme, do go to our website at

And do please share your best ideas….and if anyone has the answer to rising volume, and complex repeat cases, we would love to hear from you!

January 3, 2012

100th Post!

So this is my 100th Post on my blog – a small milestone after a year of blogging.  I have read lots of end of  year blogs, with highlights of the best posts of the year but that feels rather risky so I thought I would just summarise one of the bits of reading that I caught up on over the holidays.  It is the evaluation of the St Mary’s Pathway project in Manchester that was published in 2010 and co-authored by Dr Gillian Granville and Sue Bridge.  (Sue also does great work for CAADA in her ‘spare’ time.)  The evaluation looks at the impact of having an IDVA based in the maternity unit of the hospital on victims, staff and the IDVA themselves.  Here are 5 of the highlights of the report for me, and underline why our proposed work in relation to IDVAs and health is so important.  

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