Posts tagged ‘Perpetrator’

August 1, 2013

MARAC and Perpetrators

We recently held our first National MARAC Scrutiny Panel, chaired by the Home Office and with attendance from a very wide range of expert practitioners and policy leads.  Although I say it myself, it was a simply fascinating morning.

One the privileges of working for CAADA, is that we get lots of feedback (I mean lots) from local practitioners about ‘what needs to happen’.  Sadly, we still haven’t found the magic wand to make it all happen, but one theme that has been coming through pretty loudly in the past few months, is that the victim focus at MARAC has sometimes meant that, in some areas, the perpetrator has become pretty invisible.  Obviously, without addressing the behaviour of the perpetrator (you know what I am going to say next) we cannot assure the safety of the current victim and children, nor of future partners and their children.

So the aim of the morning was to review a number of cases where the response to the victim had been good, but where the perpetrator had somehow ‘slipped through’. We owe a big thank you to the areas who contributed the cases – not the most comfortable moment to have 20 experts scrutinise your cases, with three times as much time as usual to think in!  We explored a few themes.  Firstly we looked at whether existing powers allow us to address these cases effectively or do we need new measures or policies?  What other practical options can be used to manage perpetrator behaviour?  Can we learn from programmes such as Troubled Families?

We will be publishing more formally our findings and recommendations and will make sure that the very practical conclusions that came from the session are communicated with all of you who attend MARACs through our eNews, website and of course the MARAC Development Officers.  However, some of the headlines included:

  • We need to ensure that relevant and proportionate information about perpetrators is brought to MARAC so that a partners have a clear picture of risk and that the safety plan is comprehensive;
  • The right people need to be round the table.  Without mental health and substance use experts at the meeting, we cannot make effective safety plans.
  • We need to stay really proactive with perpetrators whether by engaging them through an Integrated Offender Management programme, or by what the police call ‘disruption’.  
  • We need to make sure that the links with MAPPA are working well.

More broadly, there were several calls for MARAC to be placed on a statutory footing as participants felt it would help secure attendance and resources for the process.

I really commend the Scrutiny Panel process to you as a great way of reflecting on practice – both for practitioners and strategic leads – stepping back and seeing patterns in our response and allowing us to improve it before there is a tragedy.  We will be publishing more from this panel in the coming weeks and months so please keep an eye on our e-News and website for more details.  We hope to run another one in 6 months, so let me know what theme or issue you think we should look at.

November 1, 2012

Risk Assessment in Domestic Violence – Bringing the focus onto perpetrators

There was a helpful article in Community Care last month, written by Thangam Debonnaire (who is a real expert in this area) about the use of risk assessments in domestic abuse.  It highlights the role of MARAC, the importance of not holding the victim responsible for the abuse and the need for multi-agency training on risk.  We have always talked about a ‘common language of risk’, meaning that all front line professionals would recognise all risk factors – not just those linked to their profession.  Thus, midwives would see not just pregnancy but also separation as a risk, and police officers would see not just weapons but also extreme levels of control.

It also raises the following important point: “It is also important that practitioners focus less on the victim’s agency and behaviour and more on those of the perpetrator, and for risk management and multi-agency work to include engaging with perpetrators through programmes and other interventions that support both victims and perpetrators in change.”

Lack of engagement with perpetrators is a constant feature in all our work and one that organisations such as Respect have worked hard to get us all to focus on.  It would be really interesting to hear of any local examples – either single agency or multi-agency – that you have used to improve engagement and what you feel the results have been – particularly within the MARAC context.  Thanks in advance for your help!

If you want to read the full article, go to http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/03/10/2012/118483/what-research-says-about-domestic-violence-risk-assessments.htm