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3.18 Responding to Children and Young People who are at Risk from Domestic Violence and Abuse - Policy and Guidance for Professionals

REALTED GUIDANCE

NICE guidance – Domestic Violence and Abuse: How Health Services, Social Care and the Organisations They Work with Can Respond Effectively.

Please note that throughout this document perpetrators are generally referred to in the masculine and the term 'mother' is used to refer to the non-abusive partner. This gender specific language is based on research and reflects the majority of cases. However it is important to recognise that it does not always apply and the terms should be read flexibly

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2014 in order to reflect two developments. The introduction of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) which provide protection to victims by enabling the police and magistrates to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme ('Clare's Law') (see Section 8.3, Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme ('Clare's Law')) which gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner.


Contents

1. Introduction
  1.1 Introduction
  1.2 How to use this Procedure
2. Context
  2.1 Definition
  2.2 Forced Marriage and Honour-Based Violence
3. Families with Additional Vulnerabilities
4. The Impact of Domestic
  4.1 The Impact of Domestic Violence and Abuse on Children
  4.2 The Impact of Domestic Violence and Abuse on Unborn Children
  4.3 The Impact of Domestic Violence and Abuse on Mothers and their Ability to Parent
  4.4 The Abusive Partner's Ability to Parent
5. Substance Misuse and Mental Ill Health
  5.1 Mothers
  5.2 Abusive Partners
6. Barriers to Disclosure
  6.1 Barriers to Disclosure for Mothers
  6.2 Barriers to Disclosure for Children
7. Enabling Disclosure (LA children's social care, health and education/schools professionals)
  7.1 Enabling Disclosure for Children and Mothers
  7.2 Enabling Disclosure for an Abusive Partner
8. Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse
  8.1 Professionals' Responsibilities
  8.2 Information Sharing
  8.3 Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme ('Clare's Law')
  8.4 Disclosure and/or Recognition
  8.5 Agency / Community or other Group Responsibilities in Enabling Disclosure and/or Recognition
9. Assessment and Intervention
  9.1 Information Gathering and Disclosure
  9.2 Assessing the Risk of Harm to a Child
  9.3 Factors which Increase Vulnerability/Risk and Appropriate Interventions
  9.4 Thresholds and Interventions - Common Assessment Framework (CAF)
  9.5 Thresholds and Interventions - Child Protection
  9.6 Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse where there are no Children in the Household
  9.7 Oxfordshire Threshold of Needs Matrix
10. Police Response
11. LA Children's Social Care
12. Health Services
13. LA Education / Schools
14. Safety Planning
  14.1 Safety Planning
  14.2 Safety Planning with Mothers
  14.3 Remaining with an Abusive Partner
  14.4 Separation
  14.5 Safety Planning with Children and Young People
15. Contact (LA Children's Social Care, Specialist Agencies and CAFCASS
16. Young People
17. Abusive Partners / Children
  17.1 Working with Men who Abuse their Partners
  17.2 Children who Abuse Family Members
18. Staff Safety
  Appendix 1: Risk Identification Matrix
  Appendix 2: Forced Marriage of a Child and Honour Based Violence
  Appendix 3: Key Facts about Domestic Violence and Abuse
  Appendix 4: Communicating with a Child
  Clarification Questions for a Child
  Appendix 5: Clarification Questions for a Mother
  Appendix 6: Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing (MARAC)
Legal and Housing Options (Appendices 7-10)
  Appendix 7 Family Law Act: injunctions
  Appendix 8a Housing Acts
  Appendix 8b Housing Options
  Appendix 9 Immigration issues
  Appendix 10: Criminal law
  Appendix 11: Safety Planning with Women
  Appendix 12: Safety Planning with Children and Young People
  Appendix 13: Working with Abusive Partners
  Appendix 14: Assessing the Risk to Children living with Domestic Violence and Abuse
  Appendix 15: Conceptual Framework for Services and Interventions

For services: see also Oxfordshire Family Information Service Directory

Acknowledgements

Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board thanks The London Safeguarding Children Board for use of its policy document to provide the template for the Oxfordshire policy and guidelines.


1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction

1.1.1 The issue of children living with domestic violence and abuse is now recognised as a matter for concern in its own right by both government and key children's services agencies. The link between child physical abuse and domestic violence and abuse is high, with estimates ranging between 30% to 66% depending upon the study (1). In 2002, nearly three quarters of children subject of a Child Protection Plan lived in households where domestic violence and abuse occurs (2)
1.1.2 All the five key outcomes for children identified in Every Child Matters can be adversely affected for a child living with domestic violence and abuse - the impact is usually on every aspect of a child's life. The impact of domestic violence and abuse on an individual child will vary according to the child's resilience and the strengths and weaknesses of their particular circumstances.
1.1.3 The three central imperatives of any intervention for children living with domestic violence and abuse are:
  1. To protect the child/ren;
  2. To support the mother to protect herself and her child/ren; and
  3. To hold the abusive partner accountable for his violence and provide him with opportunities to change.
1.1.4 Please note both that the mother needs support in her own right as victim and that in most circumstances the best way to promote the welfare of the child/ren is to support the mother as primary carer. However there may sometimes be additional circumstances such that the mother, however supported, is unable to provide safe care.

1.2 How to use this Procedure

1.2.1 This procedure is for use by all professionals (the term includes unqualified managers, staff and volunteers) who have contact with children and with adults who are parents / carers, and who therefore have responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
1.2.2 Sections of this procedure are for certain professionals only. These are indicated in the section headings (e.g. Section 7: 'Enabling Disclosure (LA children's social care, health and education/schools professionals)', and Section 15: 'Contact (LA Children's Social Care, Specialist Agencies and CAFCASS ' and the sections for specific agencies such as police, health etc).
1.2.3 This procedure should be read in conjunction with the Oxfordshire Child Protection Procedures.


2. Context

2.1 Definition

2.1.1

The new definition of domestic violence and abuse now states:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological;
  • Physical;
  • Sexual;
  • Financial;
  • Emotional.

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.” *

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called 'honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.
2.1.2

Examples of these behaviours include:

  1. Physical violence - slapping, pushing, kicking, stabbing, damage to property or items of sentimental value, attempted murder or murder;
  2. Physical restriction of freedom - controlling who the mother or child/ren see or where they go, what they wear or do, stalking, imprisonment, forced marriage;
  3. Sexual violence - any non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, sexual assault, coercive sexual activity or refusing safer sex;
  4. Financial abuse - stealing, depriving or taking control of money, running up debts, withholding benefits books or bank cards.
NB these lists are not exclusive
2.1.3 Agencies should apply these procedures to all circumstances of domestic violence and abuse. Most domestic violence and abuse is perpetrated by men against women, and this procedure provides guidance on safeguarding the children who, through being in households / relationships, are aware of or targeted as part of the abuse. This procedure refers to the victim/survivor as female and the abuser as male as this reflects the majority of cases where there are child protection concerns. However, agencies should apply the guidance to all situations of domestic violence and abuse. Domestic violence and abuse can also be perpetrated by women against men, within same sex relationships, and between any other family members.
2.1.4 This procedure uses the term 'mothers' to describe mothers, prospective mothers and adults with ongoing primary caring responsibilities for children.
2.1.5 See Appendix 3: Key Facts about Domestic Violence and Abuse for the prevalence and profile of domestic violence and abuse in the UK.

2.2 Forced Marriage and Honour-Based Violence

2.2.1

Children and young people can be subjected to domestic violence and abuses perpetrated in order to force them into marriage or to 'punish' him/her for 'bringing dishonour on the family'.

Whilst honour based violence can culminate in the death of the victim, this is not always the case. The child or young person may be subjected over a long period to a variety of different abusive behaviours ranging in severity. The abuse is often carried out by several members of a family or extended family, and sometimes by community members or leaders who may or may not be known to the child. This may increase the child's sense of powerlessness and be harder for professionals to identify and respond to.
2.2.2 Oxfordshire procedures for responding to forced marriage and honour-based violence are available in the Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence - Oxfordshire Protocol.

(1) Hester et al (2000); Edleson (1999);Humphreys and Thiara (2002).
(2) Department of Health (2002).
(3) Domestic Abuse Home Office Definition 2004


3. Families with Additional Vulnerabilities

3.1

All professionals should understand the following issues that children and their mothers may face, and take these into consideration when trying to help them:

  1. Culture: the culture amongst some communities means that it is often more difficult for women to admit they have marital problems; a failed marriage may be viewed as the woman's fault, and she will be blamed for letting down the family's honour.

    In some cultures a woman may not be in a position to divorce her husband: divorce may be primarily the husband's prerogative so that he can prevent a religious divorce, and/or her evidence may carry less weight;
  2. Temporary accommodation: many families live in temporary accommodation. When a family moves frequently, they may be facing chronic poverty, social isolation, racism or other forms of discrimination and the problems associated with living in disadvantaged areas or in temporary accommodation. These families can become disengaged from, or may have not been able to become engaged with, health, education, social care, welfare and personal social support systems;
  3. Disability: children and/or mothers with disabilities may be especially vulnerable in situations where the abuser is also their primary carer, and some refuges may lack appropriate facilities to respond to their particular needs. The British Crime Survey consistently shows that disabled people are much more likely to experience domestic violence and abuse than non disabled people;
  4. Social exclusion: children and their families may also face additional vulnerabilities as a result of social exclusion. The British Crime Survey indicates that people who are currently on a low income and/or not owning their own home are more likely than those on a higher income and/or homeowners to have experienced incidents of domestic violence and abuse. This can include women with no recourse to public funds;
  5. Members of travelling communities may be disengaged from main stream services;
  6. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people may also be especially vulnerable. Disclosure may involve repeated declaration of status to a number of agencies which may be a hurdle in itself. Issues such shame, stigma, mistrust of authority (particularly the police), fear of having children taken away because of incorrect stereotyping, "outing" etc can lead to the abuse / violence being hidden and unreported. There are also issues around safe havens for transgender people and their children, and some women's refuges may not accept men who have not fully transitioned;
  7. Language / literacy: children and their mothers may face the additional challenge to engaging with services in that English is not their first language. When working with these children and families, professionals should use professional interpreters who have a clear Disclosure and Barring Service check; it is not acceptable to use a family member or friend, and members of the extended community network should also be avoided wherever possible;
  8. Immigration status: children and their mothers may have an uncertain immigration status, which could prevent them from accessing services. The mother may also be hesitant to take action against her partner for fear of losing her right to remain in the UK. In some cases, women have received threats of deportation from their partner or extended family if they report domestic abuse and have had their passports taken from them. Similarly, children may have had their passports taken away from them and may fear that they and/or their mother could be deported if they disclose domestic violence and abuse in the family;

    Particular obstacles to accessing help are faced by women with no recourse to public funds;
  9. Recent trauma: refugees and asylum seekers may have a history of trauma and / or a disrupted family life and in addition may need support to integrate their culture with that of the host country.
3.2 See Part 3, Procedures and Guidance for Children in Specific Circumstances


4. The Impact of Domestic

4.1 The Impact of Domestic Violence and Abuse on Children

4.1.1 Children living in a family environment where there is domestic violence and abuse are at risk whether or not they have directly witnessed the abuse.
4.1.2 Some children living with domestic violence and abuse are at risk of Significant Harm. Please see Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board matrix of risk in Section 9, Assessment and Intervention of this document
4.1.3

The direct risks to children living with domestic violence and abuse include:

  1. Direct physical or sexual abuse of the child. Research shows this happens in up to 60% of cases and that the severity of the violence against the mother is predictive of the severity of abuse to the children (4);
  2. The child being abused as part of the abuse against the mother;
  3. Being used as pawns or spies by the abusive partner in attempts to control the mother;
  4. Being forced to participate in the abuse and degradation by the abusive partner.
4.1.4

A key concern in safeguarding children and young people is the potential for long term emotional damage caused by the presence of domestic violence and abuse during early formative years. This has implications both for the response to domestic violence and abuse where there are young children present in the family and to an appreciation of the possibility of increased and cumulative risk for young people who have experienced domestic violence and abuse as young children.

Research on brain development shows the importance of safe, reliable, nurturing and stimulating care during the first three years when the brain grows to 90% of its size. During this time, a child can internalise the 'safe parent' and develop self-esteem and resilience for later life, but in a climate of fearfulness and unpredictability, a child may internalise anxiety and insecurities which can remain into adulthood. The development of resilience in early years can mitigate the effects of later abuse; its absence can compound it.

4.1.5

When domestic violence and abuse seriously undermines a primary caregiver's capacity to provide the necessary emotional response and safety for her child, that young person will be likely to suffer emotional and psychological maltreatment. This can lead to high levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fear, aggressive and violent behaviours. The effects can therefore be external (aggressive) or internal (depressive) and can affect both sexes in both ways. Relationships can be undermined by a sense of distrust and insecurity or a need to be overprotective.

4.1.6

Children can witness and be affected by domestic violence and abuse from all corners of the household, and over 90% are aware of it happening.

Amongst the child's experiences (though this is not an exclusive list) may be:

  1. Seeing the abuse;
  2. Hearing abusive verbal exchanges between adults in the household;
  3. Hearing the abusive partner verbally abuse, humiliate and threaten violence;
  4. Observing bruises and injuries sustained by their mother;
  5. Hearing their mother's screams and pleas for help;
  6. Observing the abusive partner being removed and taken into police custody;
  7. Witnessing their mother being taken to hospital by ambulance;
  8. Attempting to intervene in a violent assault;
  9. Being physically injured as a result of intervening or by being accidentally hurt whilst present during a violent assault;
  10. Pervasive experience of fear and apprehension through their own direct experiences and/or internalising the fear of the adult victim;
  11. Experience of anger, frustration or helplessness at being unable to intervene effectively or self blame that they must in some way be responsible;
  12. Negative material consequences for a child of domestic violence and abuse;
  13. Being unable or unwilling to invite friends to the house;
  14. Frequent disruptions to social life and schooling from moving with their mother fleeing violence;
  15. Hospitalisation of the mother and/or her permanent disability or death.
4.1.7

Children who witness domestic violence and abuse suffer emotional and psychological damage (5). This may lead to the development of low self-esteem and a range of effects and emotions. These can be varied, contradictory and numerous, depending upon a range of variables and protective factors. They can include:

  1. Increased levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fear, self blame, hopelessness, shame and apathy, post traumatic stress disorder (symptoms such as hyper-vigilance, nightmares and intrusive thoughts) images of violence, insomnia, enuresis;
  2. Aggressive and violent behaviours, including bullying and being victimised, lack of conflict resolution skills, a lack of empathy for others and poor peer relationships, anti-social and offending behaviour, early pregnancy, alcohol and substance misuse, risk taking and self harming;
  3. Failure to fulfil potential, poor educational attainment, increased risk of homelessness;
  4. Over protectiveness of their mother and/or siblings.
Longer term life chances are likely to be affected and there may be detrimental impact on the quality of their adult relationships.
4.1.8 The impact of domestic violence and abuse on children is similar to the effects of any other abuse or trauma and will depend upon such factors as:
  1. The degree of resilience (or level of emotional vulnerability) the child already has (see eg 4.1.4);
  2. The severity and nature of the violence;
  3. The length of time the child is exposed to the violence;
  4. Characteristics of the child's gender, ethnic origin, age, disability, socio economic and cultural background;
  5. The warmth and support the child receives in their family and extended family relationships;
  6. The nature and length of the child's wider relationships and social networks;
  7. The child's capacity for and actual level of self protection.

(4) A Study by Bowker, Arbitell and McFerron (1988) found that the more frequent the violence to wives, including physical violence and marital rape, the more extreme the physical abuse of the children. The authors concluded that “the severity of the wife beating is predictive of the severity of the child abuse”.

4.2 The Impact of Domestic Violence and Abuse on Unborn Children -

4.2.1 30% of domestic violence and abuse begins or escalates during pregnancy (6), and it has been identified as a prime cause of miscarriage or still-birth (7), premature birth, foetal psychological damage from the effect of abuse on the mother's hormone levels, foetal physical injury and foetal death (8). The mother may be prevented from seeking or receiving proper ante-natal or post-natal care. In addition, if the mother is being abused this may affect her attachment to her child, more so if the pregnancy is a result of rape by her partner.
4.2.2 See also Referrals Procedure, Pre-Birth Referrals.

(6) Gynneth Lewis and James Drife, Why Mothers Die 2000-2002 – Report on confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in the United Kingdom (CEMACH, 2005).
(7) Gillian Mezey “Domestic Violence in Pregnancy” in S.Bewley, J.Friend, and G.Mezey (ed.) Violence against women (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 1997).
(8) Robert Anda, Viincent Felitti, J.Douglas Bremner, John Walker, Charles Whitfield, Bruce Perry, Shanta Dube, Wayne Giles “The enduring effects of childhood abuse and related experiences: a convergence of evidence from neurobiology and epidemiology”, in European Archives of Psychiatric and Clinical Neuroscience, 256 (3) 174 – 186 (2006 – available online at: The Child Trauma Academy

4.3 The Impact of Domestic Violence and Abuse on Mothers and their Ability to Parent

4.3.1 The child/ren are often reliant on their mother as the only source of good parenting, as the abusive partner will have significantly diminished ability to parent well. This can be particularly damaging as domestic violence and abuse very often co-exists with high levels of punishment, the misuse of power and control and a failure of appropriate self-control by the abusive partner and feelings of powerlessness and diminished self esteem of the victim leaving no safe and consistent adult to be available for the child.
4.3.2 Many mothers seek help because they are concerned about the risk domestic violence and abuse poses to their child/ren. However, domestic violence and abuse may diminish a mother's capacity to protect her child/ren and mothers can become so preoccupied with their own survival within the relationship that they are unaware of the effect on their child/ren.
4.3.3 Some mothers are physically prevented from fulfilling their parenting role by an abuser.
4.3.4 Mothers subjected to domestic violence and abuse have described a number of associated consequences, including frequent accommodation moves, economic limitations, and isolation from social networks.
4.3.5

The psychological impact can include:

  1. Loss of self-confidence as an individual and parent;
  2. Feeling emotionally and physically drained, and distant from the children;
  3. Not knowing what to say to the children;
  4. Inability to provide appropriate structure, security or emotional and behavioural boundaries for the children;
  5. Difficulty in managing frustrations and not taking them out on the children;
  6. Inability to support the child/ren to achieve educationally or otherwise.
4.3.6 Domestic violence and abuse contributes directly to the breakdown of mental health, and mothers experiencing domestic violence and abuse are very likely to suffer from depression and other mental health difficulties leading to self-harm, attempted suicide and/or substance misuse.
4.3.7 Mothers subjected to domestic violence and abuse can experience sexually transmitted infections and/or multiple terminations.

4.4 The Abusive Partner's Ability to Parent

4.4.1

Professionals are sometimes less diligent in assessing the father's parenting role and skills (9), whilst scrutinising the mother's parenting in much greater detail. It is important that the parenting role of the man, whether the father of the child(ren) or a more recent partner, is fully assessed

4.4.2

Research (10) has found that the abusive partners in the main had inferior parenting skills and tended to be:

  1. More irritable;
  2. Less physically affectionate;
  3. Less involved in child rearing;
  4. Using more negative control techniques, such as physical punishment.

(9) Hester and Radford (1996).
(10) Holden and Ritchie (America, 1991)


5. Substance Misuse and Mental Ill Health

See also Children of Alcohol Misusing Parents Procedure and Children of Drug Misusing Parents Procedure Analysis of Serious Case Reviews involving the death of a child, showed that domestic violence and abuse was a factor in 70% of the cases, mental health problems in 62% and substance misuse in 57%. Significantly the presence of two or three of these factors was more common - 34%, than the presence of just a single factor -19%.

5.1 Mothers

5.1.1 Mothers who experience domestic violence and abuse are more likely to use prescription drugs, alcohol and illegal substances (11).
5.1.2 For a mother experiencing domestic violence and abuse, alcohol and drugs can represent a wide range of coping and safety strategies. Mothers may have started using legal drugs prescribed to alleviate symptoms of a violent relationship. Mothers may turn to alcohol and drugs as a form of self-medication and relief from the pain, fear, isolation and guilt that are associated with domestic violence and abuse. Alcohol and drug use can help eliminate or reduce these feelings and therefore become part of how she copes with the abuse (12).
5.1.3 Mothers can be coerced and manipulated into alcohol and drug use. Abusers may often introduce their partner to alcohol or drug use to increase her dependence on him and to control her behaviour(13). Furthermore, any attempts by the mother to stop her alcohol or drug use are threatening to the controlling partner and some abusive men will actively encourage mothers to leave treatment.
5.1.4 Mothers in abusive relationships are also at risk of sexual exploitation. Mothers working in prostitution may be subjected to domestic violence and abuse through their relationship with their 'pimps'; these relationships will invariably be based on power, control or the use of violence.
5.1.5 The double stigma associated with being both a victim of domestic violence and abuse as well as having a substance use problem may compound the difficulties of seeking help, particularly for black and minority ethnic mothers.
5.4.6 Mental health problems such as depression, trauma symptoms, suicide attempts and self-harm are frequently 'symptoms of abuse' and need to be addressed alongside the issues of substance use and domestic violence and abuse.
5.1.7 The relationship between a mother's alcohol and drug use and/or mental health problems and her experiences of domestic violence and abuse may not (or not all) be linked. Assessment and interventions for these mothers therefore need to be conducted separately, although as part of the same care plan, and at the same time.

5.2 Abusive Partners

5.2.1

Men who abuse may use their own or their partners' alcohol or drug use as an excuse for their violence. An abusive partner may threaten to expose a mother's (or teenage girl's) use. He may be her supplier and he may increase her dependence on him by increasing her dependence on drugs(14).

5.2.2 Despite the fact that alcohol, drugs and abuse to women often coexist, there is not necessarily a causal link. In addition, the disinhibitor argument to support a 'loss of control caused by intoxication' explanation for violence - can be overstated: case examples show that abusive partners exert a huge amount of power and control regardless of intoxication.
5.2.3 Even when physical assaults are only committed whilst intoxicated, abusive partners are likely to be committing non-physical forms of abuse when sober. It should never be assumed that by working with an abusive partner's substance use the violent behaviour will also be reduced. In fact, the violence may increase when substance use is treated. Similarly, it should not be assumed that treating a domestic violence and abuser's mental ill health will necessarily reduce their violent behaviour - again, the violence may increase.
5.2.4

Therefore, work with an abusive partner should comprise separate assessments and interventions for violence, substance misuse and/or mental ill health. The intervention outcomes are more likely to be positive if the violence, substance use and/or mental ill health are addressed at the same time.

It is essential that separate assessment of people and their behaviour be ultimately interlinked and integrated.

(11) J.Jacobs. The Links between Substance Misuse and Domestic Violence: Current Knowledge and Debates (London: Alcohol Concern, 1998)
(12)The Stella Project, Separate Issues Shared Solutions - Report from the Launch of the Stella Project (Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance and Greater London Domestic Violence Project. 2003).
(13) The Stella Project, Separate Issues Shared Solutions - Report from the Launch of the Stella Project (Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance and Greater London Domestic Violence Project. 2003).
(14) Holly Taylor, Making the links between domestic violence and substance misuse – an evaluation of service provision in Tower Hamlets (Tower Hamlets Domestic Violence Team, 2003)


6. Barriers to Disclosure

6.1 Barriers to Disclosure for Mothers

6.1.1

There are many reasons why a mother will be unwilling or unable to disclose that she is experiencing domestic violence and abuse. Usually it is because she fears that the disclosure (and accepting help) will make the current situation worse and could even be fatal.

A mother may:

  1. Lose whatever control she may have developed by keeping it secret;
  2. Fear death;
  3. Have difficulty in trusting anybody especially those unknown to her;
  4. Fear that her child/ren will be taken into care;
  5. Believe her abusive partner's promise that it will not happen again (many mothers do not necessarily want to leave the relationship; they just want the abuse to stop);
  6. Minimise her experiences and/or not define them as domestic violence and abuse (this view could be culturally based);
  7. Feel shame and embarrassment and she may believe it is her fault - particularly as the abuser is likely to have told her this repeatedly;
  8. Feel she will not be believed;
  9. Fear that there will not be follow-up support, either because services are just not available or because she will meet with institutional discrimination;
  10. Be unable to express her concerns clearly (language can be a significant barrier to disclosure for many women);
  11. Fear the abusive partner will find her again through lack of confidentiality;
  12. Fear the abuser will have her detained;
  13. Fear that she will be isolated by her community;
  14. Fear she will be deported;
  15. Fear that his status will be exposed and she will be punished with an escalation of abuse;
  16. Be scared of the future (where she will go, what she will do for money, whether she will have to hide forever and what will happen to the children);
  17. Be isolated from friends and family or be prevented from leaving the home or reaching out for help;
  18. Have had previous poor experience when she disclosed;
  19. Some women are suffering from the effects of traumatic identification with the perpetrator - known as Stockholm Syndrome.
6.1.2 Some women are simply not ready to disclose. It is therefore important that practitioners continue to ask the question but at the right times and in the right way and consider who could best engage sufficiently to develop the necessary trust to facilitate any possible disclosure. Routine questioning can therefore be counterproductive if inappropriately utilised and the victim will be less likely to disclose in the future. For information on appropriate routine questioning see section 7, Enabling Disclosure (LA children's social care, health and education/schools professionals).


6.2. Barriers to Disclosure for Children

Children may be extremely fearful of the consequence of sharing family secrets with anyone and the possible impact on themselves and other family members. Their concerns may include:

  1. Feeling protective of their victim/protective parent;
  2. Feeling protective of their abusing parent;
  3. Being threatened by the abusing parent;
  4. Fearful of being taken into care;
  5. Fearful of losing their friends and school;
  6. Fearful of exposing the family to dishonour, shame or embarrassment;
  7. Naturally distrustful of strangers.

See Appendix 4. Communicating with a Child.


7. Enabling Disclosure (LA children's social care, health and education/schools professionals)

7.1 Enabling Disclosure for Children and Mothers

7.1.1

It is essential that a potential victim's SAFETY is the paramount consideration before initiating any enquiry into the possible presence of domestic violence and abuse. Routine questioning can play an important part but only at the right time and in the right context. This is for two reasons:

  1. A risk that inappropriate questioning will undermine the mother's own coping mechanisms and discourage her from future disclosure. See 6.12;
  2. The potential that any disclosure may increase the risk of abuse. The perpetrator's abuse consists of controlling behaviours - he is likely to respond to the possibility of disclosure and associated potential for change by increasing his controlling, punitive behaviours.
7.1.2

Routine Questioning should not take place if the recipient could be put at greater immediate risk of harm. This could happen if the abuser is present or if any other person within earshot has the potential to or is likely to inform the abuser. It is important that the questioner conveys the necessary understanding of the potential victim's vulnerability and acts accordingly. This may mean not starting this process now, recording the reasons why not and considering an alternative strategy.

7.1.3

Where a professional is concerned about/has recognised the signs of domestic violence and abuse (see Section 8, Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse), the professional can approach the subject with a child or a mother with a framing question. That is, the question should be 'framed' so that the subject is not suddenly and awkwardly introduced.

An example of a framing question for a mother might be: "As domestic violence and abuse is so common and can affect so many people, we now ask everyone who comes into our service if they experience this. This is because it affects people's safety, health and well being, and our service wants to support and keep people as safe as possible".
7.1.4 The professional should explain the limits and nature of confidentiality and his/her safeguarding responsibilities. For more information about confidentiality and sharing information, please see the Information Sharing Protocol.
7.1.5 If the child or mother says s/he has been abused, the professional should ask clarification questions such as those set out in Appendix 4. Communicating with a Child and Appendix 5 Clarification Questions for a Mother.
7.1.6

Professionals should not press the child for answers, instead:

  1. Listen and be prepared to believe what the child says;
  2. Reassure the child/ren that the abuse is not their fault, and it is not their responsibility to stop it from happening;
  3. Give several telephone numbers including local domestic violence and abuse services through the Oxfordshire helpline: 0800 731 0055, the Oxfordshire website: Domestic Abuse the children's website: The Hide Out, the Access Team for children's social care: 0845 050 7666, Children's Social Care Out of Hours number: 0800 833 408, the Childline number: 0800 1111, and the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline: 0808 800 5000, and also where appropriate a reminder of the police emergency number 999. Give the child the relevant contact with regard to their age, understanding and capacity to make use of it. 101 police non-emergency number.

7.2 Enabling Disclosure for an Abusive Partner

7.2.1 Professionals should be alert to and prepared to receive and clarify a disclosure about domestic violence and abuse from an abusive partner / father. Professionals may have contact with a man on his own (e.g. a GP or substance misuse or mental health service) or in the context of a family (e.g. to a school, accident and emergency unit, maternity service or LA children's social care). He may present with a problem such as substance misuse, stress, depression or psychosis or aggressive or offending behaviour - without reference to abusive behaviour in his household / relationship.
7.2.2 Professionals should consider their own safety and the safety of any children and their mother before seeking to enable or clarify a disclosure from an abusive partner.
7.2.3

If the man states that domestic violence and abuse is an issue, or the professional suspects that it is, the professional should:

  1. Establish if there are any children in the household and, if so, how many and their ages;
  2. If there are children, tell the man that children are always affected by living with domestic violence and abuse, whether or not they witness it directly;
  3. Explain the limits of confidentiality and safeguarding responsibilities;
  4. Consider whether the level of detail disclosed is sufficient. If not, the professional may need to ask clarification questions such as those set out in Appendix 13. Working with Abusive Partners;
  5. Be clear that abuse is something they decided to do;
  6. Be respectful, affirm any accountability shown by the man, but not collude.

The professional should act to safeguard the child/ren and/or their mother by following the risk identification matrix and next steps procedures.

7.2.4

Professionals should be aware that the majority of abusive partners will deny or minimise domestic violence and abuse. See also Section 17 Abusive Partners / Children and Appendix 13 Working with Abusive Partners.


8. Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse

8.1 Professionals' Responsibilities

8.1.1

It is good practice to incorporate routine enquiry about domestic violence and abuse into health, social care and police assessments and other assessments provided that procedures are informed by considerations outlined under section 7

8.1.2

Routine enquiry has been effective in increasing disclosure, and evidence suggests that victims of domestic violence and abuse are more likely to disclose if they are asked directly. Pregnancy is an opportune time to ask women about domestic violence and abuse as many mothers say that it made them think seriously about the future and how their children might be affected by the abuse in the long-term. (15)

8.1.3

When appropriate, professionals should routinely offer all children and women the opportunity of being seen alone (as in all assessments), and asked whether they are experiencing or have previously experienced domestic violence and abuse.

8.1.4

Professionals will work with many women who are experiencing domestic violence and abuse and have not disclosed. Research in 1997 showed that women experienced an average of 35 incidents before reporting it to the police (16) and domestic violence and abuse remains significantly under-reported.

There are times of increased risk of domestic violence and abuse, in particular pregnancy, separation and divorce, or other significant change, when routine questioning should be considered. It is essential though that practitioners consider the appropriateness as well as safety factors: i.e. presence of possible abuser/ family member and current state/vulnerability of subject before initiating these questions.

Routine and other questioning should be undertaken in line with the questioner's organisational procedures (who should do it, when and in what context).

8.1.5 Professionals in all agencies are in a position to identify or receive a disclosure about domestic violence and abuse. Professionals should be alert to the signs that a child or mother may be experiencing domestic violence and abuse, or that a father / partner may be perpetrating domestic violence and abuse.
8.1.6

Professionals should never assume that somebody else will take care of the domestic violence and abuse issues. This may be the child, mother or abusing partner's first or only disclosure or contact with services in circumstances which allow for safeguarding action.

8.1.7 Professionals must ensure that their attempts to identify domestic violence and abuse and their response to recognition or disclosure of domestic violence and abuse do not trigger an escalation of violence.
8.1.8

In particular, professionals should keep in mind that:

  1. The issue of domestic violence and abuse should only ever be raised with a child or mother when they are safely on their own and in a private place; and
  2. Separation does not ensure safety; it often at least temporarily increases the risk to the child/ren or mother.

(15) Meazey and Brewley (2000)
(16) Yearnshire (1997)

8.2 Information Sharing

8.2.1 Professionals receiving information about domestic violence and abuse should explain that priority will be given to ensuring that the child/ren and their mother's safety is not compromised through the sharing of information.
8.2.2 If there is concern that the child has suffered or is suffering Significant Harm, then every professional's overriding duty is to protect the child/ren. See Information Sharing Protocol and Referral Procedure.
8.2.3 Professionals also have a duty to protect the victim and should do so under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which allows responsible authorities to share information where a crime has been committed or is going to be committed.

8.3 Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme ('Clare's Law')

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) were implemented across England and Wales from 8 March 2014.

They provide protection to victims by enabling the police and magistrates to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident.

With DVPOs, a perpetrator can be banned with immediate effect from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need.

Before the scheme, there was a gap in protection, because police couldn’t charge the perpetrator for lack of evidence and so provide protection to a victim through bail conditions, and because the process of granting injunctions took time.

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) (also known as ‘Clare’s Law’) commenced in England and Wales on 8 March 2014. The DVDS gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner. This scheme adds a further dimension to the information sharing about children where there are concerns that domestic violence and abuse is impacting on the care and welfare of the children in the family.

Members of the public can make an application for a disclosure, known as the ‘right to ask’. Anybody can make an enquiry, but information will only be given to someone at risk or a person in a position to safeguard the victim. The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of gender.

Partner agencies can also request disclosure is made of an offender’s past history where it is believed someone is at risk of harm. This is known as ‘right to know’.

If a potentially violent individual is identified as having convictions for violent offences, or information is held about their behaviour which reasonably leads the police and other agencies to believe they pose a risk of harm to their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.

8.4 Disclosure and/or Recognition

8.4.1

Professionals in all agencies are likely to become aware of domestic violence and abuse through:

  1. Disclosure prompted by the professional's routine questioning or identification of signs that domestic violence and abuse could be taking place;
  2. Unprompted disclosure from a child, mother or abuser;
  3. Third party information (e.g. neighbours or family members).
8.4.2 Information from the public, family or community members must be taken sufficiently seriously by professionals in statutory and voluntary agencies. Recent research evidence indicates that failure to do so has been a contributory factor in at least two thirds of cases where a child has been seriously harmed or died in London (17).
8.4.3 Information could also come from another agency or group. It is important in this case to mutually clarify the purpose of the information and respective roles and expectations to ensure that safeguarding responsibility does not fall into a gap between agencies.

(17) Analysing Child Deaths and Serious Injury through Abuse and Neglect: What can we learn? A Biennial Analysis of Serious Case Reviews 2003-2005, Brandon et al.

8.5 Agency / Community or other Group Responsibilities in Enabling Disclosure and/or Recognition

8.5.1

Agencies / community and other groups should create a supportive environment by ensuring that:

  1. Staff receive domestic violence and abuse training appropriate to their professional role:
    Level 1: awareness and Level 2: generalist and/or child specialist - provided through Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board, or equivalent in house training,
    Level 3: Champion training - provided via Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Strategy Group;
  2. Information about domestic violence and abuse is easily and safely available giving information about domestic violence and abuse, inviting children and mothers to seek help and giving contact details of local helplines and support services including:
    • Oxfordshire domestic abuse helpline 0800 731 0055 Monday –Saturday 10am-4pm;
    • Oxfordshire domestic abuse website;
    • National Domestic Violence 24 hour helpline 0808 2000 247;
    • Childline number 0800 1111.
  3. Information is available in a range of languages and different formats. Where interpreters are employed to translate, they are professionals (with clear Disclosure and Barring Service checks) not family members, children or friends.


9. Assessment and Intervention

9.1 Information Gathering and Disclosure

9.1.1

Professionals should validate and support children and mothers who disclose by:

  1. Listening to what the child / mother says and taking what s/he says seriously;
  2. Explaining the need to make sure that s/he and others in the family are safe. This will mean by sharing information with professionals who can help the child/ren and/or mother to stay safe (limits of confidentiality). See also Information Sharing Protocol;
  3. Reassuring the child/ren that the abuse (directed towards the mother and possibly also the child/ren) is not their fault, and it is not their responsibility to stop it from happening.

For further information see Appendix 4. Communicating with a Child.

9.1.2 Professionals in agencies other than LA children's social care, health and education / schools should only proactively attempt to enable disclosure, or further disclosure, if they have been trained to do so and are supported by their agency's policies, procedures and safeguarding children supervisory arrangements. If these requirements are met, the professional should see Section 7. Enabling Disclosure (LA Children's Social Care, Health and Education/Schools Professionals), above. Otherwise these professionals should follow the guidelines below and together with their Manager/ Designated Safeguarding and Child Protection lead seek advice from the local authority Children, Education and Families assessment team or their locality coordinator if they require further guidance.
9.1.3

Whether or not a child or mother discloses, when a professional becomes aware of domestic violence and abuse in a family, in order to assess and attend to immediate safety issues for the child/ren, mother and professional, the professional should establish:

  1. The nature of the violence;
  2. If there are other children in the household. If so, the number of children and whether any are under 7 years or have special needs (young children and those with special needs are especially vulnerable because they do not have the ability to implement safety strategies and are dependent on their mothers to protect them) Also see section on impact of domestic violence and abuse on very young children 4.1.3;
  3. Whether the mother's partner is with her, and where the children are;
  4. What a child or mother's immediate fears are;
  5. Whether there is a need to seek immediate assistance;
  6. Whether the child/ren and the mother have somewhere safe to go.
9.1.4

The professional should:

  1. Where there has been disclosure, support the child and/or mother by taking what s/he says seriously;
  2. Make an immediate decision, where possible, about whether a child or mother requires treatment or protection from emergency services;
  3. Where there has been disclosure, ask the child and/or mother what strategies she/he has for keeping him/herself safe (if any). See Section 14. Safety Planning;
  4. Record the information and the source of the information;
  5. Discuss the information / concerns with the agency's nominated safeguarding children lead/ Domestic Abuse (DA) Champion and the professional's line manager;
  6. Use the information in 9.1.3 and any other known information about the family to assess the risk of harm to a child and his/her mother. The professional should consult with the nominated safeguarding children lead/DA champion, in line with local procedures. See Section. 9.2. Assessing the Risk of Harm to a Child.

The assessed risk (scale 1 - 4) will assist the professional, the agency's nominated safeguarding children lead /DA champion and the line manager in deciding what action to take to support the child/ren and mother. It will be a Child and Family Assessment: as more information becomes available the potential risk of harm to the child/ren may be judged to increase or decrease (i.e. move up or down a scale)

The assessed risk will also assist the professional, the agency's nominated safeguarding children lead/DA champion and the line manager in deciding what action to take in relation to the abuser. See Section. 9.2. Assessing the Risk of Harm to a Child and Section 17. Abusive Partners / Children

Please note it is the practice in Oxfordshire to train safeguarding (child protection) leads in all children's settings as Domestic Abuse Champions. Where the child protection lead has not yet received Champion training this procedure should still be followed and where helpful additional guidance sought from the children's assessment team or locality coordinator.

9.2 Assessing the Risk of Harm to a Child

How to Use the Risk Identification Matrix in Appendix 1:

See also What To Do Next: Following Completion of Domestic Abuse Risk Identification Scale

9.2.1 The risk identification matrix is a tool to assist professionals (the term includes unqualified managers, staff and volunteers) to use the available information to come to a judgement about the risk of harm to a child. This may include deciding that the available information is not enough to form a sound judgement about the risk.
9.2.2

Professionals who have not had specific training should, wherever possible, complete the risk identification matrix together with their manager/designated safeguarding (child protection) lead.

9.2.3 A professional may have a lot or a very little information indicating that domestic violence and abuse is taking place within a family. The professional should look across the whole matrix and tick the description/s of the incidents / circumstances which correspond best to the information available at the time. This is likely to mean ticking several descriptions.
9.2.4

The scale headings at the top of each section indicate the degree of seriousness of each cluster of incidents / circumstances (e.g. scale 1: moderate risk of harm). Each scale has categories to assist professionals to think through whether the information is about the:

  1. Evidence of domestic violence and abuse. This is the most significant determinant of the scale of risk (moderate through to severe);
  2. Characteristics of the child or situation which are additional 'risk factors / potential vulnerabilities'. These are the factors that may increase the risk of children suffering significant harm through the domestic violence and abuse;
  3. Characteristics of the child or situation which are 'protective factors'.

Professionals should keep in mind that protective factors may help to mitigate risk factors and potential vulnerabilities.

9.2.5 A family's situation may mean that there are ticks under more than one scale heading e.g. moderate (scale 1) and moderate to serious (scale 2). Where this is the case, professionals should judge the risk to the child/ren to be at the higher level (in this case, scale 2) and plan accordingly.
9.2.6 Professionals should always keep in mind the possibility that a piece of information, currently not known, could significantly raise the threshold of risk for a child.
9.2.7

The risk identification matrix in Appendix 1 correlates with the National Police Chief’s Council DASH (18) risk identification tool and associated multi agency CAADA DASH (19) tool which are used to assess the risk in the adult relationship.

9.2.8 See Sections 9.4, Thresholds and Interventions - Common Assessment Framework (CAF)and Section 9.5, Thresholds and Interventions - Child Protection. Thresholds and Interventions for more detailed information on professional response.

9.3 Factors which Increase Vulnerability/Risk and Appropriate Interventions

9.3.1

Babies under 12 months old are particularly vulnerable to violence. Where there is domestic violence and abuse in families with a child under 12 months old (including an unborn child), even if the child was not present, any single incident of domestic violence and abuse should initially be assumed by the professional as falling within scale 4. Any decision to assess the risk as lower should be taken in consultation with their manager and child protection lead and be supported with clear reasons. Where risk level 4 is confirmed professionals should make a referral to LA children's social care, in line with the Referral Procedure. See also Child Protection Assessments Procedure.

9.3.2 If there are children under the age of seven in the family, this could raise the level of risk as young children are more vulnerable because they do not have the ability to implement safety strategies and are dependent on their mothers to protect them. In cases such as this, the characteristics of the child and situation which are 'protective' need to be carefully considered.
9.3.3 If there is a child or a mother who has special needs, the risk of harm to the child, the mother and other children in the family is increased because the child or mother may not have the ability to implement an effective safety strategy.
9.3.4 If the mother meets the threshold of Adult at Risk, professionals should follow their local Adults at Risk procedure (20).
9.3.5 If the child/ren or mothers are from a black or minority ethnic community they may be experiencing additional vulnerabilities. See Section 3, Families with Additional Vulnerabilities above.
9.3.6 Violence directed towards a mother may draw attention away from the fact that a child in the family may be being sexually or physically abused or targeted in some other way (e.g. the child could be the focus of paranoid thoughts). See Recognition of Significant Harm - Definitions and Signs of Abuse and Part 3, Procedures and Guidance for Children in Specific Circumstances
9.3.7 Professionals should also assure themselves that a child is not perpetrating abuse towards other family members.

(18) The National Police Chief’s Council Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment and Honour-Based Violence (DASH) risk identification tool
(19) Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) DASH risk identification tool for multi agency use.
(20) For information please see Oxfordshire Safe From Harm. or contact 0845 050 7666

9.4 Thresholds and Interventions - Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

9.4.1

MODERATE - Scale 1 - moderate risk of harm to the child/ren identified

Threshold scale 1 assesses the potential risk of harm to the child/ren as moderate. A child in this situation may have additional needs - as defined within the common assessment framework (CAF). The child/ren and their mother are likely to need family support interventions which can be offered by the agency itself or by another single agency.

The professional should:

  1. Consult with Manager and Child Protection Lead, DA school champion as soon as domestic violence and abuse is identified;
  2. Recognise that normally the mother/non abusing parent knows most about the situation and take a lead from her, and at a pace which is appropriate for her;
  3. Affirm and support the mother, gather information, assess her understanding of the situation and the risk, share your concerns so far as possible, give information about resources, plan with her for her safety and that of her child/children, discuss any actions you intend to take;
  4. Ask the mother's permission to share information giving your reasons. Respect her right to withhold consent. However if this seems associated with minimising the abuse consider whether this heightens the risk and check with CEF for further relevant information;
  5. Take advice from the mother about the safety or not of involving her partner, and consider engagement/referring on;
  6. Consider liaison with Domestic Abuse investigation Unit/pvp referral centre;
  7. Consider discussion with EI hub;
  8. Consider CAF in particular if there are additional concerns about the child.
9.4.2

MODERATE - SERIOUS - Scale 2 - moderate to serious risk of harm to the child/ren identified.

Threshold scale 2 assesses the potential risk of harm to the child/ren as moderate to serious. A child in this situation will have additional needs, as defined within the common assessment framework (CAF). The child/ren and their mother are likely to need family support interventions offered by more than one agency, which are co-ordinated by a lead professional.

The professional should follow the procedures at 9.4.1 a) - c), e) f) and g. In addition, the professional should:

  1. Consult with CEF social care for further relevant information;
  2. Share information with multi-agency professionals (information can be shared without consent when there are concerns about the risk of harm to the children or their mother. Record the decision to share and the rationale for doing so;
  3. Initiate a TAC;
  4. If non abusing parent does not consent to CAF and TAC being initiated consider a referral to CEF;
  5. Ensure safety planning is incorporated including family and professionals as appropriate.

9.5 Thresholds and Interventions - Child Protection

Please also see Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure, Section 7, Exclusion of Family Members from Conferences

9.5.1

SERIOUS - Scale 3 - safeguarding, serious risk of harm to the child/ren identified

Threshold scale 3 assesses the potential risk of harm to the child/ren as serious. In threshold scale 3, protective factors are limited and the children may be suffering Significant Harm. Intervention and support for the child/ren and their mother will require CEF planning.

The professional should:

  1. Consider nature of safety planning e.g. separation, direct work with victim / children and perpetrator (when safe to do so);
  2. Consult manager and Domestic Abuse expert (e.g. Champion / Designated teachers etc);
  3. Consider and confirm referral options / Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) in discussion with Designated MARAC Officer / Child Protection enquiry / other;
  4. Share information with relevant multi-agency professionals;
  5. Record all actions and contact information and rationale for sharing it.

See Appendix 6. Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing (MARAC).

9.5.2

SEVERE - Scale 4 - Initiate child protection procedures, severe risk of harm to the child/ren identified

Threshold scale 4 assesses the domestic violence and abuse as severe with increased concern regarding children's well-being due to additional contributory risk factors. In threshold scale 4, protective factors are extremely limited and the threshold of significant harm is reached.

The professional should:

  1. Consider immediate safety planning for victim / children;
  2. Complete assessment form and inform manager / senior colleague as appropriate;
  3. Refer to Assessment Team CEF as a child protection referral - Child and Family Assessment of Child in Need including s47 (child protection) Enquiry;
  4. Liaise with DAIU / other agencies as appropriate;
  5. Record all actions and rationale for sharing information;
  6. Refer to MARAC, where applicable through the agency's Designated MARAC Officer (DMO), and with the DMO make referral to IDVA service.

See Appendix 6. Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing (MARAC)

9.6 Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse where there are no Children in the Household

9.6.1

Having confirmed that there are no children in the household, the professional may consider the following:

  1. Establish if the woman meets the Adult at Risk threshold and if so refer to the local Adults at Risk procedure (21);
  2. Use the risk identification DASH to assess the level of risk of harm to the woman (based on information such as the relevant points in 9.1.4 and any other information about the relationship); and
  3. Refer the woman to a Oxfordshire domestic abuse helpline (0800 731 0055) and Domestic Abuse Oxfordshire Reducing the risk website, when RA is is graded at high make a referral into the MARAC process, normally via the agency designated MARAC officer, and to the IDVA service. See Section 10.14.

See Appendix 6, Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing (MARAC).

9.7 Oxfordshire Threshold of Needs Matrix

9.7.1 Please click here to view the Oxfordshire Threshold of Needs Matrix.

(21) For information please see Oxfordshire Safe From Harm. or contact 0845 050 7666


10. Police Response

10.1

When the police receive a telephone call or other contact from a child requesting help in relation to domestic violence and abuse, the police must take immediate protective action and follow up with a child protection referral to LA children's social care in line with the Referrals Procedure.

10.2 Police may receive contact from a domestic violence and abuse victim, third party or abusive partner in several ways, for example; a telephone call (emergency or non-emergency line), direct enquiry at the station, an approach in the street, via a multi-agency meeting or partner referral.
10.3 The Thames Valley Police (TVP) will investigate all incidents of domestic violence and abuse. Generally, in the first instance, this will be done by a response officer, who will be considered to be the Officer in the Case (OIC). A response officer is a police officer  They will complete a Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment form (DASH), a national risk indicator form. This is a risk identification, assessment and management tool, as well as being an aide memoir for evidential gathering purposes and a signpost to support agencies. The officer will complete intelligence and database checks and then grade the incident (standard, medium and high risk) at the time of the incident.
10.4 Police officers should ensure immediate appropriate safety planning is undertaken to ensure the safety of the victim and their children. This may well require contact with out of hours Emergency Duty Team.
10.5

The OIC will submit all DASH risk assessment forms to the Protecting Vulnerable People (PVP) Referral Centre, a specialist risk assessment and referral team who will ensure the risk grading is correct and write a full risk assessment into the Crime Evaluation Data Analysis and Recording System (CEDAR). The centre staff will then ensure that the appropriate notifications are made to partner agencies such as CEF.The high and medium risk incidents will then be passed to the Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit (DAIU), a specialist secondary investigation and risk management unit, who ensure that the risk management is appropriate in the circumstances and in conjunction with the victim implement further protective measures where appropriate and signpost them to other support services. The details of the risk management is updated onto CEDAR.

Standard - corresponds to 'Current evidence does not indicate likelihood of causing serious harm.'

Medium - corresponds to 'There are identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The offender has the potential to cause serious harm but is unlikely to do so unless there is a change in circumstances, for example, failure to take medication, loss of accommodation, relationship breakdown, and drug or alcohol misuse'

High risk - There are identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The potential event could happen at any time and the impact would be serious.

Risk of serious harm (Home Office 2002 and OASys 2006): 'A risk which is life threatening and/or traumatic, and from which recovery, whether physical or psychological, can be expected to be difficult or impossible'.

10.6

If children are part of the family composition where domestic violence and abuse is reported, a CRYSTAL report of a 'child coming to notice' must be completed in all cases. The information on the CRYSTAL will be shared with LA children's social care and may instigate further information sharing and case conference discussion.

10.7

Initial investigating officers will record all the children who live in the household or who regularly stay in the household regardless of whether they are direct witnesses to the incident. The officers will detail:

  • Name, age, date of birth and address of full time residence;
  • What the children saw or heard;
  • A description of the child's demeanour and emotional state;
  • If possible, a categorisation of the risk to the children;
  • A history of the abuse the children have seen and heard.
10.8 A duty sergeant will be responsible for supervising the initial investigation to ensure that there are no significant gaps within the investigation and an appropriate risk assessment and management plan is in place. If this is not the case, they will direct the OIC to take further action to rectify any deficiencies in the initial investigation.
10.9

The details of the investigation are recorded on CEDAR. All CEDAR reports will be referred into the relevant department for further investigation. In the majority of cases, this will be the local response officer. The exceptions being:

  1. All high risk cases will be investigated by the DAIU;
  2. Serious sexual offences, which will in the main be investigated by DAIU or Child Abuse Investigation Unit (CAIU) with a Detective Inspector (DI) having an overview of the investigation and risk management plans;
  3. Direct domestic violence and abuse of the child, which will be allocated to the Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIU);
  4. Murder, as this is the responsibility of the Major Crime Unit to investigate.
10.10 The Protecting Vulnerable people team incorporates, the DAIU, CAIU, Referral Centre. The team deals with domestic violence and abuse, child abuse, Serious Sexual assault, adult protection and the co-ordination of missing person investigations. The primary role of the team is to assess and manage risk, investigate offences, prosecute the perpetrator and through partnership work ensure that vulnerable victims are supported and the risk to them is reduced. Where a criminal prosecution of a perpetrator is deemed inappropriate, they will identify and pursue alternative courses of action in consultation with their partner agencies in a bid to prevent further violence and make victims and their children safer. The staff in the referral centres are a mixture of police staff and police officers with Detective sergeants managing the teams, within the DAIU, CAIU the majority of staff are detectives; all have received specialised training relevant to their role in domestic violence and abuse, child abuse, adult protection and sexual assault.
10.11 A Detective Sergeant will review the majority of the serious cases and ensure that the investigation, risk management and multi-agency response is appropriate. They will also set an investigative strategy before assigning the crime to an investigating officer (Officer in Charge - OIC).
10.12

In addition to investigating the crime and managing the risk to victim and children, the OIC is responsible for 'signposting' the victim to appropriate local domestic violence and abuse support agencies.

All areas in Oxfordshire have access to Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors  (IDVA) and Outreach Workers who will work closely with the police to support the victim and their children.
10.13

Once they have collated all the available evidence, the police investigator will speak to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), either locally or CPS direct if outside office hours. The relevant prosecutor will then make one of the following decisions:

  1. Authorise police to charge the abuser with the appropriate offence(s);
  2. Advise police to administer the abuser with an official adult caution;
  3. Advise police to bail the abuser to allow further evidence to be obtained;
  4. Take no further criminal action against an abuser.

If the OIC feels the decision made by the CPS is inappropriate, there is a 'dispute resolution process' to resolve disagreement between Thames Valley Police (TVP) and CPS.

10.14 The PVPDAIU Detective Inspector will oversee all domestic violence and abuse investigations assessed to be high-risk. Police and partner agencies will refer these cases to the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) or if they have significant concern for the safety of victims and their children, as per the County MARAC protocol. The purpose of the MARAC is to plan intensive appropriate and proportional support for victims and their children and effectively manage their safety using the information, skills and resources of a variety of agencies and notification systems. MARAC processes and procedures are aligned with Child Protection procedures.


11. LA Children's Social Care

11.1 LA children's social care should respond to a referral of a child at risk of domestic violence and abuse in line with this procedure and the Referrals Procedure
11.2

Social workers will assess the child and their family using the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (DH, 2000) and the Risk Assessment Matrix see (Appendix 1), taking into account such factors as the:

  1. Nature of the abuse;
  2. Risk of serious injury or death;
  3. Abuser's pattern of assault and coercive behaviours;
  4. Impact of the abuse on the mother;
  5. Impact of the abuse on the child;
  6. Impact of the abuse on parenting roles;
  7. Resilience and protective factors;
  8. Extended family's capacity to increase or lower risk;
  9. Impact of abuse on the family's social circumstances.

It is important to fully understand the inter-relationships between the different members of a family. Assessments of each member should include both the direct relationship with another member and the affect of this relationship upon the other(s).

See Appendix 15, Assessing the Risk to Children Living with Domestic Violence - P.Neil, 2006


12. Health Services

12.1 Health service professionals should respond to domestic violence and abuse in line with this procedure, the Referrals Procedure and the government guidance: Responding to Domestic Abuse: A Handbook for Health Professionals (DH, 2005).


13. LA Education / Schools

13.1 LA education / schools professionals should respond to domestic violence and abuse in line with this procedure and the Referrals Procedure.


14. Safety Planning

14.1 Safety Planning

14.1.1 Safety planning for mothers and children is key to all interventions to safeguard children in domestic violence and abuse situations. All initial and subsequent assessments of risk to child/ren and their mother should include a judgement on the family's existing safety planning. Emergency safety plans should be in place whilst assessments, referrals and interventions are being progressed.
14.1.2 In cases which reach threshold scale 4 (severe risk of harm to the child/ren), the emergency safety plan / strategy should optimally be for the child/ren and, if possible, the mother, not to have contact with the abuser.
14.1.3 Professionals in agencies other than police, LA children's social care, health and education should only attempt to agree detailed safety planning with a child or mother if they have been trained to do so and are supported by their agency's policies, procedures and safeguarding children supervisory arrangements. If these requirements are met, the professional should follow Section 14.2, Safety Planning with Mothers below.

14.2 Safety Planning with Mothers

14.2.1 Professionals should use the proforma in Appendix 11. Safety Planning with Women to help the mother develop a safety plan. Safety planning needs to begin with an understanding of the mother's views of the risks to herself and her child/ren and the strategies she has in place to address them.

14.3 Remaining with an Abusive Partner

14.3.1

A key question is whether a mother plans to remain in the relationship with the abusive partner. If she does, professionals should assess the risk of harm to the children using the risk identification matrix, to decide whether the risks of harm to the children can be managed with such a plan.

14.3.2 If the mother is choosing not to separate, if possible and when safe (see 14.3.3 and 14.3.4), the abusive partner will be involved in the assessment and intervention. Professionals should make all reasonable efforts to engage him and refer him to an appropriate resource eg Respect: helpline: 0845 122 8609, or email: info@respectphoneline.org.uk; website: Respect Phoneline.
14.3.3 Professionals need to consider with the mother the actions required prior to contacting the abusive partner to ensure her and the children's safety. Specifically, professionals should not tell him what the allegations are before having developed a safety plan for this with the mother and children.
14.3.4 If a professional addressing concerns with the abusive partner will put the mother and children at further risk, then the professional should focus on providing safe support for the mother, and further guidance about options for her and her children's short and long term safety, including whether she would like to be referred for specialist outreach or Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) support. Discussion of options including separation (see below), should be sensitive to the circumstances and coping strategies of the mother, to the importance where possible of empowering rather than undermining her, and to the potential increased risk associated with any change.
14.3.5 See also Section 17. Abusive Partners / Children.

14.4 Separation

14.4.1

If a mother wants separation, professionals need to ensure that there is sufficient support in place to enact this plan. Specifically, professionals should be aware that separation itself does not ensure safety; it often at least temporarily increases the risk to the child/ren or mother.

14.4.2

The possibility of removing the abusive partner rather than the mother and child/ren should be considered first. See Appendix 7 and Appendix 8. Legal and Housing Options.

14.4.3

The obstacles in the way of a mother leaving an abusive partner are the same as those which prevent mothers from disclosing the domestic violence and abuse in the first place - fears that the separation will be worse than the current situation or fatal. See Section 6.1 Barriers to Disclosure for Mothers.

14.4.4 Professionals need to be aware that separation may not be the best safety plan if the mother is not wholly committed to leaving, and in consequence may well return.
14.4.5

Where a professional and a mother disagree about the need for separation, or the mother feels unable to implement this, the professional's task is to convey to the mother that her reasons for staying are understood and appreciated and to continue to build her confidence and skills

14.4.6 It is important to note that if at any stage the threshold of Significant Harm is reached (threshold scale 4) the professional must make a referral to LA Children's Social Care in line with the Referral Procedure or call for a Child Protection Conference or, in rare circumstances, removal of the children - see Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure and 1.1.4 of this document.
14.4.7

Where the risk is assessed as being threshold scale 1 or 2:

Key agencies which may be involved in the CAF and the safety planning include the school, health, LA housing, domestic violence and abuse outreach/advisory services, the police domestic abuse units - or others as appropriate. A professional should be nominated to proactively engage with the mother and maintain contact, particularly immediately after separation.

14.4.8

Professionals should keep the safety of the children constantly under review, re-assessing the risk of harm using the risk identification matrix in the light of any new information. If the risk of harm to the child/ren rises to scales 3 or 4, the lead professional must follow the procedures set out in Section 9.5 - including, as appropriate, contacting or making a referral to LA children's social care in line with the Referral Procedure.

14.4.9 Mothers need to know from the outset that this process may need to be enacted.
14.4.10

Where the risk is assessed as being threshold scale 3 or 4:

LA children's social care should either advise on or lead the safety planning as part of their assessment and planning for the child. The social worker should ensure that there is clear communication between the mother and each professional involved as well as amongst the agencies. Where there are a number of professionals involved, the mechanism for co-ordinating the safety plan is the core group or team around the family (TAF). Both entail a series of small meetings attended by the mother, child (if s/he is of an appropriate age and development), the social worker and the practitioners working with the family.

14.5 Safety Planning with Children and Young People

14.5.1

Soon as a professional becomes aware of domestic violence and abuse within a family, s/he should use the proforma in Appendix 12 Safety Planning with Children and Young People to work with the mother and each child, according to their age and understanding (22), to develop a safety plan. If a safety plan already exists, it should be reviewed.

14.5.2

The plan should emphasise that the best thing a child can do for themselves and their mother is not to try to intervene but to keep safe and, where appropriate, to get away and seek help.

14.5.3 The child/ren should be given several telephone numbers including local police community safety units, Oxfordshire domestic abuse helpline: 0800 731 0055, the Access Team for children's social care: 0845 050 7666, children's social care out of hours number: 0800 833408, the Childline number: 0800 1111, and the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline: 0808 800 5000.
14.5.4 When the mother's safety plan involves separation from the abusive partner, the disruption and difficulties for the child/ren need to be considered and addressed
14.5.5

Maintaining and strengthening the mother / child relationship is in most cases key to helping the child to survive and recover from the impact of the violence and abuse

14.5.6 The mother may need advice and support in how to talk with her children about what has happened in such a way as to meet their needs and promote their wellbeing
14.5.7

Appropriate additional resources and ongoing support should be considered. These might include:

  1. Mentoring, support to integrate into a new locality and school / children's centre;
  2. Support to attend clubs, other leisure / play activities and/or mainstream resources which will help build self esteem;
  3. Specialised therapeutic services for individuals or groups to enable child/ren to safely share experiences and feelings and help build for the future.
14.5.8 Professionals should ensure that in planning for the longer term support needs of the child/ren at all levels, input is received from the full range of key agencies (e.g. specialist domestic abuse advise and support services, the school, health, LA housing, the police community safety unit, relevant local family support and activity groups and/or therapeutic services).

(22) For a definition of ‘Fraser competency’ see section 5.3 of the Oxford procedure for safeguarding sexually active children


15. Contact (LA Children's Social Care, Specialist Agencies and CAFCASS

15.1 Many women, despite a decision to separate, believe that it is in the child/ren's interest to see their father. Others are compelled by the courts to allow contact.
15.2 Mothers can be most vulnerable to serious violent assault in the period after separation. Contact can be a mechanism for the abusive partner to locate the mother and children.
15.3 Children can also be vulnerable to violent assault as a means of hurting their mother. Men who abuse their partners may use contact with the child/ren to hurt the mother by, for example, verbally abusing the mother to the children or blaming her for the separation. Thus, through contact the child/ren can be exposed to further physical and/or emotional and psychological harm.
15.4 Professionals supporting separation plans should consider at an early point the mother's views regarding post-separation contact. The professional should clearly outline for the mother the factors which need to be considered to judge that contact is in the child's best interests.
15.5 Professionals should also speak with and listen to each child regarding post-separation contact.
15.6

Professionals should complete an assessment of the risks from contact to the mother and child/ren.

15.7 Where the assessment concludes that there is a risk of harm, the professional must recommend that no unsupervised contact should occur until a fuller risk assessment has been undertaken by an agency with expertise in working with men who abuse their partners.
15.8 Professionals should advise mothers of their legal rights if an abusive partner makes a private law application for contact. This should include the option of asking for a referral to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) Safe Contact Project. See CAFCASS website
15.9 If there is an assessment that unsupervised contact or contact of any kind should not occur, professionals should ensure that this opinion is brought to the attention of any court hearing applications for contact.
15.10 Professionals should ensure that any supervised contact is safe for the mother and the child/ren, and reviewed regularly. The child/ren's views should be sought as part of this review process.


16. Young People

 

See also Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence - Oxfordshire Protocol and Guidance for Professionals Safeguarding Sexually Active Young People Under the Age of 18 Including Those at Risk of Sexual Exploitation in Oxfordshire.

16.1 Young women in the 16 to 24 age group are most at risk of being victims of domestic violence and abuse. Whilst they are under the age of 18 years, these young women (in some cases teenage mothers) should receive support and safeguarding in line with the Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004.
16.2 For young women aged 18 to 24 years, where they reach the threshold, professionals should follow their local Adults at Risk procedure (23).
16.3 Professionals who come into contact with young people (teachers, school nurses, sexual health professionals, GPs etc) should be aware of the possibility that the young person could be experiencing violence within their relationship.
16.4 Professionals with concerns that a young woman / teenage mother is being abused within a relationship should follow this procedure, adapting it to focus on the circumstances and locations in which the young woman / mother meets her partner (e.g. choosing safer venues, locations and peer groups to meet, being able to identify trigger points which lead to violence and practicing safe ways to leave and go home etc).

(23)For information please see Oxfordshire Safe From Harm or contact 0845 050 7666


17. Abusive Partners / Children

Professionals responding to abusive partners or children should act in accordance with the severity of the violence.

17.1 Working with Men who Abuse their Partners

See also Section 7.2 Enabling Disclosure for an Abusive Partner and Appendix 13, Working with Abusive Partners.

17.1.1 The primary aim of working with men who abuse their partners is to stop this behaviour and to increase the safety of children and their mothers. A secondary aim is to hold the abusive partner accountable for his violence and provide him with opportunities to change.
17.1.2 Men who abuse their partners may seek to control any contact a professional makes with them or work undertaken with them. Abusive partners will often avoid taking responsibility for their behaviour towards their partner and their child/ren.
17.1.3 Where an abusive partner (usually a man) is willing to acknowledge his violent behaviour and seeks help to change, this should be encouraged and affirmed. Such men should be referred to appropriate programmes which work to address the cognitive structures that underpin controlling behaviours. Professionals should avoid referring for anger management, as this approach does not challenge the factors that underpin the abusive partner's use of power and control.
17.1.4 When a victim leaves a violent situation, the abusive partner must never be given the address or phone number of where she is staying.
17.1.5 Professionals should never agree to accept a letter or pass on a message from an abusive partner unless the victim has requested this.
17.1.6 Joint work between an abusive partner and a victim should only be considered where the abusive partner has completed an assessment with an appropriate specialist agency.
17.1.7

Abusers should be invited to joint meetings with the mother only when it is assessed that it is safe for this to occur. See Section 7, Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference of the Initial Child protection Conference Procedure

17.2 Children who Abuse Family Members

17.2.1 Children and young people of both genders can direct violence or abuse towards their parents or siblings. The hostile behaviour of children who abuse in this way may have its roots in early emotional harm, for which the child will need support and treatment.
17.2.2 Professionals should refer a child who abuses others to LA children's social care in line with the Referral Procedure. In responding to children who harm, professionals should follow the procedures in Children who Exhibit Harmful Behaviour (Including Sexual, Physical and Emotional) Procedure.


18. Staff Safety

18.1 Professionals may be at risk whenever they work with a family where one or more family members are violent.
18.2

Professionals should:

  1. Be aware that domestic violence and abuse is present but undisclosed or not known in many of the families they work with;
  2. Ensure that they are familiar with their agency's safety at work policy;
  3. Not undertake a visit to a home alone where there is a possibility that a violent partner may be present, nor see a violent partner alone in the office;
  4. Avoid putting themselves in a dangerous position (e.g. by offering to talk to the abuser about the mother or being seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship);
  5. Ensure that any risk is communicated to other agency workers involved with the family.
18.3

Managers should ensure that professionals have the appropriate training and skills for working with children and their families experiencing domestic violence and abuse; and use supervision sessions both to allow a professional to voice fears about violence in a family being directed at them; and also to check that safe practice is being followed in all cases where domestic violence and abuse is known or suspected.


Appendix 1: Risk Identification Matrix

Click here for Appendix 1: Risk Identification Matrix


Appendix 2: Forced Marriage of a Child and Honour Based Violence

See Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence - Oxfordshire Protocol


Appendix 3: Key Facts about Domestic Violence and Abuse

  1. The majority of domestic violence and abuse involves heterosexual males abusing their female partners or ex-partners (British Crime Surveys 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06). (24) 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence and abuse over their lifetimes, and between 6 - 10% of women suffer domestic violence and abuse in a given year (25);
  2. Domestic violence and abuse accounts for between 16% and 25% of all recorded crime. (26) 16% of violent crimes reported to the British Crime Survey (2005/06) were classified as domestic violence and abuse, with similar figures for the previous years (27);
  3. Of all the violent crimes investigated by the British Crime Survey (which excludes some categories such as child sexual assault and trafficking) domestic violence and abuse is consistently the violent crime least likely to be reported to the police (28);
  4. One incident is reported to the police every minute (29);
  5. On average over the years between 1995 and 2006, two women per week in England and Wales were killed by a partner or ex-partner (30);
  6. Women are at greatest risk of being killed at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner, and 76% of domestic homicides occur after separation (31);
  7. Non fatal domestic violence and abuse and stalking also continue or increase after separation for many women. According to the British Crime Survey, about 20% of domestic violence and abuse incidents are experienced after the relationship has ended (32);
  8. 30% domestic violence and abuse begins or escalates during pregnancy (33);
  9. 16 - 24 year olds are at greatest risk of suffering domestic violence and abuse (34);
  10. A significant proportion of perpetrators are also misusing drugs and/or alcohol, although research suggests that most perpetrators are not drug addicts or alcoholics. Of those who are, there is evidence that they use abusive behaviour as much when sober than when under the influence of drugs or alcohol (35);
  11. In 2002, nearly three quarters of children on the subject of a child protection plan) lived in households where domestic violence and abuse occurs (36);
  12. In relationships where there is domestic violence and abuse, children witness about three-quarters of incidents and almost all are aware of it's presence. About half the children in such families have themselves been badly hit or beaten. Sexual and emotional abuse are also more likely to happen in these families (37);
  13. The most prevalent factor associated with child death or serious injury in the UK is a combination of domestic violence and abuse, mental ill health and substance misuse (38);
  14. Where there is abuse of a woman by a male partner there is sometimes also child physical and sexual abuse involving the same abusive partner. Estimates of the overlap vary but range from 40-60% (39);
  15. Domestic violence and abuse causes 16% of homelessness (40);
  16. An audit in Greenwich found that 60% of mental health service users had experienced domestic violence and abuse (41), and a separate survey of women using mental health services in Leeds found that half of them had experienced domestic violence and abuse (42);
  17. A 2003 survey from the BBC found that 29% of men and 22% of women felt that domestic violence and abuse was acceptable in some circumstances (43);
  18. One third of all female suicide attempts can be attributed to current or past experience of domestic violence and abuse (44), and 50% of women of Asian origin who have attempted suicide or self-harm are domestic violence and abuse survivors (45).

(24) British Crime Surveys (2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06), home office
(25) Council of Europe, 2002
(26) Home Office 2004: Dodd et al., 2004
(27) British Crime Surveys (2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06), home office
(28) Ibid
(29) Stanko, 2000
(30) Homicide statistics for England and Wales, from K. Coleman, K. Jansson, P. Kaiza, E. Reed, Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2005/2006 (2007) - Supplementary Volume 1 to Crime in England and Wales 2005/2006
(31) Metropolitan Police, Findings from the Multi-agency Domestic Abuse Murder Reviews in London (2003).
(32) S. Walby and A. Myhil, ‘Assessing and Managing Risk’, in J. Taylor-Browne, What Works in Reducing Domestic Abuse? A Comprehensive Guide for Professionals (Whiting Birch, 2001).
(33) Gynneth Lewis and James Drife, Why Mothers Die 2000-2002 - Report on confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in the United Kingdom (CEMACH, 2005)
(34) British Crime Surveys (2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06)
(35) C. Humphreys, L. Regan, and R.K. Thiara, Domestic Abuse and Substance Use: Overlapping Issues / Separate (Home Office and Greater London Authority, 2005)
(36) Department of Health, 2002
(37) Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2004
(38) Analysing Child Deaths and Serious Injury through Abuse and Neglect: What can we learn? A Biennial Analysis of Serious CaseReviews 2003-2005, Brandon et al.
(39) S. Walby and A. Myhil, ‘Assessing and Managing Risk’, in J. Taylor-Browne, What Works in Reducing Domestic abuse? A Comprehensive Guide for Professionals (Whiting Birch, 2001); J. L. Edleson, The Overlap between Child Maltreatment and Woman Battering. Violence Against Women, 5(2), pp.134 to 154
(1999);
C. Humphreys and R. Thiara, Routes to Safety: Protection Issues Facing Abused Women and Children and the Role of Outreach
Services ( Women's Aid Federation of England: Bristol, 2002).
(40) Homelessness Statistics: September 2002 and Domestic Abuse (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2002)
(41) Janet Bowstead, Mental Health and Domestic Abuse: Audit 1999 (Greenwich Multi-agency Domestic Abuse Forum Mental Health Working Group, 2000).
(42) ReSisters, Women Speak Out (Leeds: ReSisters, 2002)
(43) Hitting Home: domestic violence survey (BBC, 2003) http://news.bbc.co/1/hi/uk/2753917.stm
(44) Stark and Flitcraft Women at Risk: Domestic Abuse and Women's Health (Sage, 1996); Audrey Mullender, Rethinking Domestic Abuse: The Social Work and Probation Response (Routledge, 1996)
(45) K. Chantler et al., Attempted Suicide and Self-Harm: South Asian Women (Manchester: Women's Studies Research Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2001);
Newham Asian Women's Project, Young Asian Women and Self-harm: A mental health needs assessment of young Asian


Appendix 4: Communicating with a Child

When talking with and listening to a child about domestic violence and abuse professionals should:

  1. Never promise complete confidentiality - explain your responsibilities;
  2. Do say that as far as possible you will keep the child informed of what is happening;
  3. Give the child time to talk and yourself time to understand the situation from the child's perspective;
  4. Create opportunities for the child to disclose whether in addition to the domestic violence and abuse they are also being, or at risk of being, directly physically or sexually abused by the abusive partner;
  5. Be straightforward and clear, use age appropriate language;
  6. Encourage the child to talk to their mother about his/her experience - as appropriate;
  7. Emphasise that the violence is not the child's fault;
  8. Let the child know that s/he is not the only children experiencing this;
  9. Make sure that the child understands it is not his/her responsibility to protect his/her mother, whilst validating the child's concern and any action s/he may have taken to protect their mother;
  10. Do not assume that the child will hate the abuser, it is likely that s/he may simply hate the behaviour but still love the person;
  11. Allow the child to express their feelings about what s/he has experienced;
  12. Check with the child whether they know what to do to keep themselves safe and have a network of adults who they trust. If not, work on this with them or ensure that any work done with the child by other practitioners includes safety planning. See Section 14. Safety Planning;
  13. Recognise that children will have developed their own coping strategies to deal with the impact of violence and abuse. Some of these may be negative in the longer term for the child, but where they are positive they should be drawn on to develop safety strategies for the future;
  14. Do not assume that the child will consider themselves as being abused;
  15. Do not minimise the violence;
  16. Offer the child support with any difficulties in school or ensure that any work done with the child by other practitioners includes support in school;
  17. Give the child information about sources of advice and support s/he may want to use; and
  18. Give the message that the child can come back to you again.

Clarification Questions for a Child

In order to obtain accurate and reliable information from a child regarding a domestic violence and abuse situation, it is critical that the language and questions are appropriate for the child's age and developmental stage.

women in East London (Newham Inner City Multi-fund and NAWP, 1998).

1. Types and Frequency of Exposure to Domestic Violence and Abuse

  1. What kinds of things do mum and dad (or their girlfriend or boyfriend) fight about?
  2. What happens when they argue?
  3. Do they shout at each other or call each other bad names?
  4. Does anyone break or smash things when they get angry? Who?
  5. Do they hit one another? What do they hit with?
  6. How does the hitting usually start?
  7. How often do your mum and dad argue or hit?
  8. Have the police ever come to your home? Why?
  9. Have you ever seen your mum or dad get hurt? What happened?

2. Risks Posed by the Domestic Violence and Abuse

  1. Have you ever been hit or hurt when mum and dad (or their girlfriend or boyfriend) are fighting?
  2. Has your brother or sister ever been hit or hurt during a fight?
  3. What do you do when they start arguing or when someone starts hitting?
  4. Has either your mum or dad hurt your pet?

3. Impact of Exposure to Domestic Violence and Abuse

  1. Do you think about mum and dad (or their girlfriend or boyfriend) fighting a lot?
  2. Do you think about it when you are at school, while you're playing, when you're by yourself?
  3. How does the fighting make you feel?
  4. Do you ever have trouble sleeping at night? Why? Do you have nightmares? If so, what are they about?
  5. Why do you think they fight?
  6. What would you like them to do to make it better?
  7. Are you afraid to be at home? To leave home?
  8. What or who makes you afraid?
  9. Do you think it's okay to hit when you're angry? When is it okay to hit someone?
  10. How would you describe your mum? How would you describe your dad? (or their girlfriend or boyfriend)

4. Protective Factors

  1. What do you do when mum and dad (or their girlfriend or boyfriend) are fighting?
  2. If the child has difficulty responding to an open-ended question, the worker can ask if the child has:
    • Stayed in the room;
    • Left or hidden his/herself;
    • Gone for help;
    • Gone to an older sibling;
    • Asked their parents / the girlfriend or boyfriend to stop;
    • Tried to stop the fighting.
  3. Have you ever called the police when your parents (or their girlfriend or boyfriend) are fighting?
  4. Have you ever talked to anyone about your parents (or their girlfriend or boyfriend) fighting?
  5. Is there an adult you can talk to about what's happening at home?
  6. What makes you feel better when you think about your parents (or their girlfriend or boyfriend) fighting?
  7. Does anybody else know about the fighting?
  8. Do you have a mobile telephone that you could use in an emergency?


Appendix 5: Clarification Questions for a Mother

Mothers are usually too afraid or uncomfortable to raise the issue of violence themselves. So be prepared to ask sensitively, but directly:

  1. Can you tell me what's been happening?
  2. You seem upset, is everything all right at home?
  3. Are you frightened of someone / something?
  4. Did someone hurt you?
  5. Did you get those injuries by being hit?
  6. Are you in a relationship in which you have been physically hurt or threatened by your partner?
  7. Have you ever been in such a relationship?
  8. Do you ever feel frightened by your partner or other people at home?
  9. Are you (or have you ever been) in a relationship in which you felt you were badly treated? In what ways?
  10. Has your partner destroyed things that you care about?
  11. Has your partner ever threatened to harm your family? Do you believe that he would?
  12. What happens when you and your partner disagree?
  13. Has your partner ever prevented you from leaving the house, seeing friends, getting a job or continuing in education?
  14. Does your partner restrict your access to money or access your Child Benefit or allowances?
  15. Has your partner ever hit, punched, pushed, shoved or slapped you?
  16. Has your partner ever threatened you with a weapon?
  17. Does your partner use drugs or alcohol excessively? If so, how does he behave at this time?
  18. Do you ever feel you have to walk on eggshells around your partner?
  19. Have the police ever been involved?
  20. Have you ever been physically hurt in any way when you were pregnant?
  21. Has your partner ever threatened to harm the children? Or to take them away from you?


Appendix 6: Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing (MARAC)

  1. The purpose of Multi-agency risk assessment conferencing (MARAC) is to identify victims of domestic violence and abuse who are at high risk, pool information, agree immediate coordinated safety plans and respond rapidly. The Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Strategy Group (ODASG) is responsible for the Oxfordshire MARAC. ODASG has established the MARAC multi agency review group of which the Police, IDVA, CEF and Probation are core members;
  2. Referral to the MARAC is based on a common risk assessment process, carried out by police officers attending incidents of domestic violence and abuse and by other professionals in consultation with the Designated MARAC Officer in their agency;
  3. The risk assessment has two objectives;
    1. to gather relevant information about victims in order to assess the level of risk and identify those at high risk for referral to the MARAC;
    2. to provide information which can be shared with other agencies in order to inform a multi agency safety plan promoting the safety of victims and their children and to make agencies aware of the most dangerous offenders.
  4. MARAC and child protection processes are aligned such that the welfare of the child always takes precedence while ensuring that the safety of the victim is also considered in its own right;
  5. Key responsibilities of all agencies in relation to the MARAC include:
    1. Use of the MARAC risk assessment tool DASH to identify high-risk victims;
    2. Appointment of a member of staff as designated MARAC officer (DMO) to receive appropriate training, support this process and refer cases to the MARAC;
    3. Checking the MARAC list, supplied by the MARAC administrator, against agency records; and collating and sharing the resulting information;
    4. Enabling DMOs and, where relevant, other agency representatives to attend MARAC as priority. Ensuring action plans agreed at the MARAC meeting are circulated and progressed with a subsequent report. Updating individual agency records.
  6. The Independent Violence Advisory Service has a specialised role in working with victims at high risk, and/or advising other professionals as key workers with the victim.

Legal and Housing Options (Appendices 7-10)

Practitioners should inform victims of these options, but should also always refer victims to specialist advice services, such as CAB, a Law Centre, outreach workers or Independent Domestic abuse Advisors.

Please note that this list is not an exhaustive one and professionals should contact their county domestic abuse co-ordinators, domestic abuse helpline or website: Domestic Abuse Oxfordshire Reducing the Risk for a local list of specialist agencies.

Domestic violence and abuse is a crime under both civil and criminal law. The legislation is summarised below.


Appendix 7: Family Law Act: injunctions

1.1

Family Law Act 1996 Part IV

The Act provides for a single set of remedies to deal with domestic violence and abuse and to regulate occupation of the family home, through two specific types of order, the non-molestation order and the occupation order.

1.2

Non-Molestation Orders

Non-molestation orders are commonly known as injunctions. It is possible to take out an injunction against almost anyone: e.g. father, husband, son, partner, ex partner, gay partner, other family member or other household member. An order can prohibit a perpetrator from molesting, harassing, pestering, intimidating, use or threaten to use violence any named person including any children or instruct anyone else to do so. The molestation can take the form of physical violence but can also include other forms of behaviour, such as verbal threats and harassment. It can include specific injunctions such as instructing a perpetrator to stay away from the home. Please bear in mind that a non-molestation order does not become “live” until such time as it has been served upon the perpetrator– this is something that the solicitor instructed will employ somebody to do as soon as possible.

Undertakings

During the course of proceedings the perpetrator may give an undertaking to the court and this will end the non-molestation order. An undertaking is a promise given to the court and signed by the perpetrator in from of the Judge. It is usually that the contents of an undertaking are the same as in a non-molestation order i.e. not to harass, pester, intimidate, use or threaten to use violence but can include more, for example, not to make derogatory comments about the woman on facebook or any other social networking site.  Undertakings do not carry a power of arrest unlike non-molestation orders

1.3

Occupation Orders

1.3.1

This may take a number of forms (e.g. enforcing the women's right to remain in the home or restricting the perpetrator's right to occupy it, even if he is the sole tenant or owner occupier). The court has power to order someone to live only in a certain part of the house or to allow someone back into the house, etc. The court has wide powers to order someone not to surrender a tenancy following an application for a transfer of tenancy or remove or destroy the contents of the home. It is useful, if possible, to obtain a copy of the tenancy agreement, as it may be that the perpetrator has breached the agreement with the violence, making it easier to remove him from the tenancy.

1.3.2 In most cases such orders are made for short periods of time and do not affect long term rights in the property. In the longer term an application can be made to the court for a tenancy to be transferred. An order may be for a specified period, usually three-six months, or for open-ended period(although this is rare)or until a different order is made if further provisions are needed.
1.3.3

Anyone who is a person who is associated with the respondent may apply for an order and an application may be made on behalf of a relevant child. Associated persons are people who:

  1. Are or have been married;
  2. Are or have been civil partners;
  3. Are or have been co-habitees;
  4. Have lived in the same household (other than one of them being the other's tenant, lodger, boarder or employee);
  5. Have agreed to marry;
  6. In relation to a child, they are both parents or have parental responsibility;
  7. This list is not exhaustive.

1.4

Breaches of these orders

1.4.1 In order to provide better protection, the powers of arrest in relation to the above orders have been strengthened.
1.4.2 A breach of a non-molestation order is now an arrestable offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. Any breach is, therefore, dealt with under criminal law rather than civil (family) law.
1.4.3

The court can attach a power of arrest to an occupation order and any breach of that order is dealt with under civil (family) law and the respondent can be arrested without need for a warrant.

An undertaking does not have a power or arrest attached to it.  If the perpetrator breaches the undertaking an application for committal would need to be made through the court (an application to send the perpetrator to prison, a fine and/or suspended sentence)

1.5

Court Procedure and Privacy

1.5.1 The process of obtaining these orders begins with paperwork. \the victim will visit a solicitor (or other support agency) to prepare the application and a statement of supporting application. She will also need to consider with her representative how to fund the application. Public funding (often known as legal aid) is available and she will receive advice about her eligibility.
1.5.2 The victim can be reassured that the court process takes place in a private room at the court, which is not open to members of the public. The victim will need to attend court when her application is heard. The victim's solicitor or barrister will put her case to the judge and she will not usually need to speak herself at the first hearing. Getting either order will involve at least one court hearing. Unlike a criminal case, there is no obligation on the opponent to attend - if he does not turn up, an order can be made in his absence.
1.5.3 In a dire emergency and/or if it is not safe to give the man prior warning of the application to the court, a court hearing will go ahead without notice to the opponent. The victim's representative will advise whether each individual case warrants this type of 'without notice' application. Often in these circumstances a temporary order is granted to the victim providing protection until a further hearing, of which the opponent has notice, which usually takes place 7-14 days later. Otherwise applications are made and the opponent is given prior notice of the court hearing.

1.6

Standard of Proof

1.6.1 The standard of proof for obtaining an order is lower than in a criminal case. The court has to decide whether the allegations of violence are true on the balance of probabilities (in a criminal case, it must be beyond reasonable doubt.) In some cases, perpetrators do not even go to court or contest cases, so evidence such as reports to the police may not be required. However, it will always help, if there is medical evidence and incidents have been reported to the police or witnessed by others.
1.6.2 If a non molestation order is breached it becomes a criminal case and the standard of proof is that of all other criminal cases - beyond reasonable doubt.


Appendix 8a Housing Acts

1.1

Housing Acts 1985 And 1996

1.1.1

Under Ground 1 Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1985, a possession order can be granted where an obligation of the tenancy has been broken or not performed. Tenancy agreements should have a clause such as the following, which can be used in relation to domestic violence and abuse:
'you or any member of your family must not use or threaten to use violence by using physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse against anyone legally entitled to live either in your home or in another of our properties'.

1.1.2 The Housing Act 1996 added Ground 2A of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1985. Under the Act, possession action can be taken against a remaining tenant where their partner has left the family home because of violence or threats of violence and does not intend to return. This ground can be considered when the partner (whether or not they are a tenant) has been re-housed because of violence and the perpetrator is left in occupation (particularly as they may be under-occupying a family sized unit).
1.1.3 In such cases, sufficient evidence of violence having occurred is required, which can include evidence provided by any professional the survivor is working with. In addition, housing authorities can take injunctive action against a tenant if he is in breach of the terms of his tenancy agreement.
1.1.4 Other anti-social behaviour legislation also allows housing powers to act against perpetrators respect of their tenancies. Practitioners should always seek advice from housing services when considering what options are available to the woman in securing protection for herself and the children. It is good practice to invite housing to meetings arranged to draw up safety plans around women.


Appendix 8b Housing Options

 

Victims of domestic violence and abuse need to consider their housing options for both the short and longer term. If a woman feels she is unable to remain at the family home safely at least temporarily, the following options could be considered. Note the options of removing the perpetrator as outlined in Appendix 7 should be made known to her.

In addition to housing and legal services, Independent Domestic Violence Advisors and outreach workers are a good source of advice and support regarding housing options.

2.1

Sanctuary Schemes

2.1.1 Sanctuary Schemes are provided across Oxfordshire to support victims of domestic violence and abuse who are at risk of becoming homeless due to domestic violence and abuse from a current or former spouse, partner or close family member.
2.1.2 Sanctuary schemes are invaluable in offering victims of domestic violence and abuse the option to remain safely and securely in their homes, through the installation of free, tailored, home security. However it is important that it is recognised that sanctuary schemes are not effective in reducing risk in all cases of abuse and that victims are given a clear assessment about the degree of safety a sanctuary scheme can offer in their specific circumstances.
2.1.3 Further advice is available from Local Authority Housing Departments, Police Domestic Abuse Units, outreach and IDVA services.

2.2

Refuges

2.2.1 Refuges provide safe, emergency accommodation for women and children who need protection from abuse. The workers in the refuges provide emotional support, information and advice, practical assistance eg with benefit claims, access to other specialised professional help such as legal advice counselling, support groups and children's workers, and help build confidence to move on and establish a new life. The experience of refuge itself with associated companionship of other women in similar circumstances can be a source of invaluable support and reassurance.
2.2.2

The Oxfordshire helpline, 0800 731 0055 will provide information about refuge provision in Oxfordshire and across the country. The 24 hour national domestic violence helpline (0808 2000 247) is run in partnership by Refuge and Women's Aid and can provide information on refuge provision and other possibilities if refuges are full.

2.3

Staying with Family and Friends

2.3.1 Depending on the circumstances, this may be an appropriate short term option. The victim may get more support and/or the company of people she knows, and find it easier to retain her wider networks of support. She will be in a physical environment which is likely to be familiar and which requires no formal process to access. It is also an inexpensive option. However, it may mean that she is easy for the abuser to find.

2.4

Social Housing Providers

  If the family let a property through a social housing provider:
2.4.1 The landlord will often employ an antisocial behaviour officer who will usually be helpful in providing a place of safety through their housing stock. If this is not forthcoming then make a formal approach to the homeless services
2.4.2 In the longer term the landlord should be able to terminate the tenancy because of illegal acts of abuse (in breach of the tenancy agreement). The perpetrator can be made to leave the property and the landlord is free to re-let the property to the family
2.4.3 The landlord is able to apply for an Antisocial Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) which is a civil law remedy (as opposed to an ASBO which is a criminal law remedy) to ban the perpetrator from the physical areas around the property over which the land lord has control

2.5

Local Authority housing services

2.5.1 If housing is required to provide a place of safety for a victim of violence she should contact or be referred to the emergency homeless services.
2.5.2 There are varying duties and enquiries which need to be carried out. If the victim or family are 1) homeless 2) in priority need and 3) eligible for help then there is an immediate duty on the local housing authority to help. (Please note there is no such thing as a 'homeless application' ie If the housing authority has 'reason to believe an applicant may be eligible, in priority need and homeless' then there is an immediate housing duty).
2.5.3 Once a homeless person or family presents or is referred to a local authority the housing department has a guideline of 33 working days to carry out enquiries into their homelessness. It is important to provide as much information as possible: the local authority will look for evidence of domestic violence and abuse. At the end of their enquiries they will give their decision.
2.5.4 Homelessness law is complex and legal advice from a housing solicitor may be helpful in some circumstances.
2.5.5 In emergency the local authority will provide temporary accommodation while the case is being investigated. Accommodation provided in an emergency may be out of county and may take the form of Bed and Breakfast or a Women's Refuge (see above).
2.5.6

If a homeless person refuses to accept an offer of suitable accommodation then the housing authority are entitled to discharge their duty altogether. It is advisable to seek legal assistance in these circumstances.

2.5.7 A management transfer may be an option if the woman is a sole tenant and the perpetrator lives elsewhere. Each case is considered on an individual basis.
2.5.8

If a sole tenant is experiencing domestic violence and abuse and wishes to move out of the area, it may be possible to nominate to another council or housing association.

2.6

Safety and wellbeing

2.6.1

While arrangements for temporary or future permanent accommodation are being made, or a victim is waiting for a transfer, and after a victim has moved whether within or outside their local area it is important that plans are in place to promote their safety, emotional wellbeing, capacity to make choices and build for the future. These should include:

  • Ongoing consistent support for them and their children;
  • Clear and timely information;
  • Safety planning advice including possible legal remedy.

2.7

Contact numbers and advice

 

Out of hours emergency homeless lines. These are;

Oxford City Council;

0800 833408 (also social services out of hours service)

Cherwell District Council; 01295 252535
South Oxfordshire District Council; 01491 824033
West Oxfordshire District Council; 01865 742138
Vale of White Horse District Council; 01235 524886

There are domestic abuse champions in all Oxfordshire Housing departments.

For information about legal advice please see the county domestic abuse website

Oxfordshire helpline 0800 731 0055
National helpline 0808 200 0247


Appendix 9 Immigration issues

Professionals need to ensure that they have a firm understanding of issues around families with no recourse to public funds and how they can work with these victims, especially in relation to access to Legal Aid and Housing.

It is important to refer for qualified legal advice and as early as possible where there is an immigration issue.

It is illegal to give immigration advice unless registered.

1.1

Domestic Violence and Abuse and the Two Year Rule

1.1.1 People from abroad who enter or stay in the UK on the basis of marriage or relationship to a spouse/partner who is settled in the UK or is a British citizen are initially given limited leave to remain for a 'probationary' period of two years. At the end of that period, if they are still in a subsisting relationship and meet the other requirements of the Immigration Rules, they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
1.1.2

During the two year probationary period, the partner from abroad has no recourse to public funds (although if there are children involved the Local Authority will have duties under the Children Act). If the relationship breaks down, the partner from abroad becomes liable to be removed from the UK either during the probationary period (if the Home Office become aware of the breakdown and seek to cut short or 'curtail' the leave) or at the end if the two year period when no further application for leave is made. The only exception to this rule is (i) if the settled spouse dies or (ii) if the Home Office are satisfied that the relationship has broken down during the probationary period due to domestic violence and abuse.

1.1.3

The issue of evidence is a difficult one as fear that they will be deported is a factor which may inhibit women in such situations from disclosing. Perpetrators often use this fear as a tool of control.
NB, while the Home Office has a list of types of evidence they require, the higher Courts have clearly stated that ALL evidence of domestic violence and abuse should be considered (not only items on the Home Office List).

1.1.4

Therefore, in such situations, it is imperative that practitioners seek advice from support agencies and specialist immigration solicitors as to any women's eligibility to apply under the domestic violence and abuse rule.


Appendix 10: Criminal law

1.1

Thames Valley Police (TVP) officers are under a duty to take positive action when investigating domestic violence and abuse offences. There is an expectation that a domestic violence and abuse perpetrator will be arrested in all criminal investigations where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a crime has taken place. Where a criminal offence has not been disclosed it should be noted that an arrest generally cannot be made.

1.2 The power to arrest comes from Section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which amended the powers of arrest available to a constable under section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This has made all offences potentially arrestable in certain circumstances.
1.3 The exercise of arrest powers will be subject to a test of necessity based around the nature and circumstances of the offence and the interests of the criminal justice system.
1.4

An arrest will only be justified if the constable believes it is necessary for any of the reasons set out below:

  1. To enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person's name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name);
  2. Correspondingly as regards the person's address (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person's address, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether an address given by the person as his name is his real name);
  3. To prevent the person in question: -
    • Causing physical injury to himself or any other person;
    • Suffering physical injury;
    • Causing loss of or damage to property;
    • Committing an offence against public decency; or
    • Causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway.
  4. To protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question;
  5. To allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;
  6. To prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.
1.5

When considering the need to arrest, the officer should take the following into account;

  1. The situation of the victim;
  2. The nature of the offence;
  3. The circumstances of the offender; and
  4. The needs of the investigation.
1.6 The Domestic Abuse Investigation Units in the majority of cases will be the primary unit to investigate domestic violence and abuse offences. The decision to caution for a domestic violence and abuse offence lies with either the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). If a police officer decides to caution a domestic violence and abuse perpetrator, they must be at least a substantive Inspector. The MPSC guidance is that the officer making the cautioning decision should not be involved in the investigation for both subjectivity and integrity reasons.
1.7 It is the role of the CPS to decide on whether a perpetrator should be charged with a criminal offence and what criminal offence(s) should be charged. If there is a disagreement between police and CPS, there is a dispute resolution process to review charging decisions - although ultimately it is the CPS who have the final decision.
1.8

The typical offences (though this is not exhaustive) likely to be charged in domestic violence and abuse cases are:

Offences Against the Person Act, 1861

Section 47

Section 20

Section 18



Actual bodily harm (may be physical or psychological injuries.)

Unintentional GBH or wounding

GBH with intent

Protection from Harassment Act, 1997

Section 2 / 4



Harassment, fear of violence

Public Order Act, 1986 -

Section 3



Affray

Offences Against the Person Act, 1861

Section 21

Section 23



Attempted choking, strangulation, and suffocation with intent to commit an indictable offence.

Administer poisonous / noxious substances with intent to endanger life.

Common Law Offences

Kidnap, unlawful imprisonment
Breach of the peace

Criminal Law Act, 1977 - Section 6

Use / threaten violence to secure entry to Premises.

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994 -

Section 51



Intimidating / harm / threat to harm witness

Civil Law Court Order

Section 7 Bail Act, 1976



Breach of injunction. Breach of bail.

Offences Against the Person -

Section 16



Threats to kill

Sexual Offences Act 2003

Including rape and other sexual offences


1.9

Once charged and at court there are numerous orders that can be applied for post sentence (some can be applied for as stand alone orders, though the process is more difficult) to manage the future behaviour of an offender. These include:

  1. Antisocial Behaviour Injunctions, as long as perpetrator and victim do not live in the same household;
  2. Restraining Orders can be applied for on successful conviction of Protection of Harassment Act offences;
  3. Sexual Offences Protection Orders (SOPOs). These are similar to Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions and can be imposed to prevent serious sexual harm. Officers need to liaise with the CPS and remind the Court of its power to impose SOPOs on conviction for specified sexual or violent offences (Sexual Offences Act 2003, Schedules 3 and 5) where the offender poses a risk of serious sexual harm. NB. Committing an Offence W/I to Commit a Sexual Offence (s.62 SOA 2003) means the offender will have to register on the sex offences register (formally known as 'the notification requirements'). It should be noted that these Orders cannot be applied for by police on conviction, but can be imposed by the Courts. A SOPO cannot require an offender to do anything; it can only restrict certain conduct;
  4. RoSHOs Risk of Sexual Harm Orders. There is no need for any conviction. These are for only for persons over 18 who are deemed to pose a risk of harm to under-16s. Breaching a RoSHO will result in registration on the sex offences register. Essentially these can be used to tackle 'grooming' behaviour;
  5. Disqualification Orders (Always Life) (Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000). Can be imposed on conviction at Crown Court for offences against children and prohibit any kind of Work with Children.
1.10 It should also be noted that if offenders are classed as: - violent offenders; or potentially dangerous; or convicted of sexual offences and have to register as registered sex offenders (RSO) on the Sexual Offences Register; they will be managed by the MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements).


Appendix 11: Safety Planning with Women46

By raising the issue of domestic violence and abuse, we create opportunities to explore ways in which women and children can be safe. A safety plan is a semi-structured way to think about steps that can be taken to reduce risk, before, during and after any violent or abusive incidents. It is important to stress that although a safety plan can reduce the risks of violence they cannot completely guarantee women and children's safety.

Women should not keep the Safety Plan where it may be discovered by the Abusive Partner.

Developing a Safety Plan

Women experiencing violence will already have survival strategies they find effective. It is essential to acknowledge these and use them as guidance for your work. A safety plan is about allowing women to identify the options available to them within the context of their current circumstances. Some questions to ask in drawing up a safety plan:

  1. Who can you tell about the violence who will not tell your partner/ex-partner?
  2. Do you have important phone numbers available e.g. Family, friends, refuges, police? Do your children know how to contact these people?
  3. If you left, where could you go?
  4. Do you ever suspect when your partner is going to be violent? e.g. After drinking, when he gets paid, after relatives visit
  5. When you suspect he is going to be violent can you go elsewhere?
  6. Can you keep a bag of spare clothes at a friend's or family member's house?
  7. Are you able to keep copies of any important papers with anyone else? e.g. passport, birth certificates, benefits book.
  8. Which part of the house do you feel safest in?
  9. Is there somewhere for your children to go when he is being violent and abusive (don't run to where your children are as your partner may harm them as well)?
  10. What is the most dangerous part of your house to be in when he is violent?
  11. Have you discussed with your children a safety plan for what they need to do during an incident (do not intervene, get away and get help)?

Personal Safety Plan for Women

Please note this section is intended to give guidance about areas to cover and illustrates the importance of developing the plans mutually but is not necessarily best practice in the particular way it is formatted and is not intended in any way to be prescriptive. The plans should be shared and noted in the way which is most helpful to the woman.

This safety plan has been adapted from a variety of existing plans. It should be used with women who are escaping violence. Remember it may not be safe for a woman to fill in the plan and take it with her. Always offer to keep any information or documentation on your premises. Drug and alcohol agencies may wish to ask additional questions about how her or her perpetrator's substance use is affecting the violence she is experiencing.

Click here for the Safety Plan

(46) Adapted from the Stella Project’s Domestic Violence, Drugs and Alcohol Toolkit


Appendix 12: Safety Planning with Children and Young People

For a definition of 'Fraser competence' see Keywords Appendix.

For additional guidance in dealing with situations where forced marriage may be an issue, see Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence - Oxfordshire Protocol.

Please note: this section is intended to give guidance about areas to cover and illustrates the importance of developing the plans in discussion with a child or young person and checking that they are reassured and feel safer. However the specific way they are formatted is illustrative only and not intended in any way to be prescriptive.

  1. This safety plan should not be kept by the child;
  2. Professionals should give the child no written material except telephone numbers, children can use mobile phone and text messaging to seek help;
  3. The child needs to rehearse this safety plan with you as part of safety planning intervention.

Child's Safety Plan

Click here for Child's Safety Plan

Young Person's Plan

Click here for Young Person's Plan


Appendix 13: Working with Abusive Partners

These questions are framed in light of research which shows that the majority of significant incidents of domestic violence and abuse are perpetrated by men on women.

1.

Asking Questions

1.1 Practitioner's responses to any disclosure, however indirect, could be significant for encouraging responsibility and motivating a man towards change.
1.2

If the man presents with a problem such as drinking, stress or depression, for example, but does not refer to his abusive behaviour, these are useful questions to ask:

  1. When you feel like that, how do you behave?
  2. Do you find yourself shouting / smashing things?
  3. Do you ever feel violent towards a particular person?
  4. It sounds like you want to make some changes for your benefit and for your partner / children. What choices do you have? What can you do about it? What help would you like to assist you to make these changes?
1.3

If a man responds openly to these prompting questions, more direct questions relating to heightened risk factors may be appropriate:

  1. It sounds like your behaviour can be frightening. What happens you get angry with your partner or your family? Do you ever shout at her? Have you ever frightened your partner and your children?
  2. Have you ever hit her or pushed her around? What (specific) violence have you used? When did you first lay a hand on her in anger? What's the worst thing you've done in anger? Have you ever assaulted or threatened your partner with a knife or other weapon? What has been the most recent violence?
  3. How are the children affected? Have you abused / assaulted your partner in front of the children?
  4. Have the police ever been called to the house because of your behaviour?
  5. Do you feel unhappy about your partner seeing friends or family - do you ever try to stop her? Did / has your behaviour changed towards your partner during pregnancy?
  6. What worries you most about your behaviour? Are you aware of any patterns - is the abuse getting worse or more frequent? How do you think alcohol or drugs affect your behaviour?
 

The information you gather will be the basis for your decision about how best to engage and what kind of specialist help is required - either for the man or to manage risk.

2.

Responding to Disclosures from Abusive Partners

2.1

Practitioners can make a difference and influence a family's situation and a child's wellbeing, by following good practice response guidance, such as:

  1. Be clear that abuse is always unacceptable;
  2. Be clear that abusive behaviour is a choice;
  3. Affirm any accountability shown by the abuser;
  4. Be respectful and empathic but do not collude;
  5. Be positive, men and women can change;
  6. Do not allow your feelings about the abuser's behaviour to interfere with your provision of a supportive service;
  7. Be straightforward; avoid jargon;
  8. Be clear about the judgement of risk to the children and the consequences of this, including what actions he is expected to take;
  9. Whatever he says, be aware that the majority of abusers on some level are unhappy about their behaviour;
  10. Be aware, and tell the abuser, that children are always affected by living with domestic violence and abuse, whether or not they witness it directly;
  11. Be aware, and convey to the abuser, that domestic abuse is about a range of behaviours, not just physical violence (see definition);
  12. Do not back him into a corner or expect an early full and honest disclosure about the extent of the abuse;
  13. Be aware of the barriers to him acknowledging his abuse and seeking help (i.e. shame, fear of child protection process, self-justifying anger);
  14. Be aware of the likely costs to the abuser himself of continued abuse and assist him to see these.

3.

Addressing behaviour and managing risk

3.1 Violent behaviour by one partner towards the other may take place within a range of family circumstances and dynamics. Assessment is vitally important to ensure safety and appropriate intervention and referral.
3.2 Where the behaviour being addressed is prompted by a need or desire to control any intervention to affect change may escalate the behaviour and the risk.
3.3 Any intervention or referral, however well motivated the perpetrator should therefore prioritise the need to ensure safety.
3.4 Perpetrator programmes either run by the Probation Provider (Oxford Probation Providers) for perpetrators who have been through the criminal justice system or community based are the nationally recognised approach to changing behaviour patterns of perpetrators. They require a commitment to a thirty week challenging group programme which focuses on current behaviour and underlying beliefs and constructs and are integrated into women's and children's safety and support services.
3.5 All accredited programmes (programmes which conform to Respect guidelines) include an initial process of detailed assessment by those responsible for delivering the programme: inappropriate referrals can potentially increase risk and teach perpetrators how to control and manipulate more effectively.
3.6 There are insufficient programmes to meet the need: they are geographically widely spread across the Thames Valley and have different funding arrangements. This should not preclude advising motivated perpetrators about the nature of the commitment and need to take responsibility for changing behaviour and for safety: however it is important to do so in a context of being realistic about obtaining a place and about managing delay.
3.7 Oxfordshire, as part of its work to support early identification and effective engagement with families, is seeking to develop further assessment expertise and wider range of resources to support change where risk levels are low and motivation is high. Champions and locality coordinators will be briefed as these develop and information will also be available on the website and through the domestic abuse coordinators.


Appendix 14: Assessing the Risk to Children living with Domestic Violence and Abuse

ASSESSING THE RISK TO CHILDREN LIVING WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE.

In order to properly assess the risk to a child of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE, we must fully consider the context in which it takes place.

1. Experience

There are a wide range of experiences for children living with domestic violence and abuse. They will hear, maybe see and perhaps be physically involved in the abuse of one parent (usually mother) by the other (usually father/mother's partner). This may include physical violence, humiliation, threats, intimidation, sexual jealousy, and the destruction of the household. They may themselves be attacked, or actively involved by the abuser to watch or participate in the abuse of others. They may be punished inappropriately or too harshly, and have threats made against them, in order to frighten the protective parent. Many children want to protect their mothers and may put themselves at risk in the process. Research shows that girls in particular seek to protect their younger siblings during violent episodes and offer support or reassurance in the aftermath of violent behaviour ( Jaffe et al 1990 ). Children may be at physical risk if they get in the way, or intervene during an attack and All children living with domestic violence and abuse know it is happening ( Mirlees- Black 1999). They tend to learn by watching and listening to the victim, and by threats from the perpetrator, that the abuse is not to be talked about. Secrecy is usually maintained and it takes, on average, 35 incidents of domestic violence and abuse before a victim will alert one or more of the statutory agencies ( British Crime Survey 1996). All children will suffer some degree of emotional harm from these experiences but the degree can vary enormously due to a variety of factors

2. Impact

The impact of domestic violence and abuse has to be assessed separately for each child living within the household. There is no set pattern of Signs and Symptoms, with some children appearing to escape relatively unharmed and others recovering well once they feel safe again (WOLFE et al. 1986, Mullender 2000). All children though will be affected in some way by the fear, disruption, and distress in their lives, with a range of physical, emotional, learning, behavioural or developmental problems. Educational performance may also be affected, and all of these symptoms can be misdiagnosed as illness, formal learning difficulties or just plain bad behaviour. The degree though to which D.V. has a lasting and significant impact upon a child's life has much to do with the RESILIENCE of the young person and a number of RISK and PROTECTIVE VARIABLES which may be present.

3. Resilience

The research on Stress Management tends to show that the key indicator of the effect of stress upon an individual is his or her capacity to perceive a potential "stressor" as an "opportunity" rather than as a "threat"- "One person's stress is another person's motivation". While Psychological motivational skills training programmes can develop a positive approach, the most significant factor common to those with an optimistic view of their world, is the presence of a strong sense of self or "self esteem". It is widely accepted that the "foundations" of a person's "sense of self" are developed and put in place during the first three years of a child's life when the brain develops to 90% of it's full capacity (Dr. Bruce D. Perry). During these early years, through the safe, consistent, and loving care of the primary carer, a child "internalises the Safe Parent" (D.Winnicot). He or she develops an emotional view of their relationship with the world, from which, with other genetic and environmental factors, the child's self esteem and identity can grow to become the great protective factor in that child's life up to and throughout adulthood. The unavailability though of the carer, literally as in the case of the Romanian orphans, or emotionally (S.Gerhardt 2004), within a climate of fear, can seriously undermine a child's capacity to do just that. While good early year's care can develop resilience to mitigate later abuse, early domestic violence and abuse can seriously undermine the capacity of the primary caregiver to provide the necessary attention, basic care, responsiveness and emotional warmth for proper attachment to take place. It can also internalise a "Fear Response" which may unknowingly be reactivated throughout that young person's life (Dr.B.Perry).

There are other factors which may exist or can be encouraged to assist the child's development of psychological resilience;

  • A capacity for organised thinking and problem solving;
  • An even and adaptable temperament;
  • Connections to and support from others within and outside the immediate family;
  • Good social skills and supportive peer network;
  • Physical attractiveness (positive feedback from others enhancing self esteem);
  • A sense of autonomy and purpose;
  • A sense of humour.

(Making an Impact.1998)

4. Risk And Protective Variables

  • AGE: The age of the child at the onset of domestic violence and abuse is significant. Early Year's involvement can undermine the child's capacity to develop resilience and at other key times in the young person's development, he or she will be particularly vulnerable - (see developmental chart). At it's most fundamental level though, age has an influence in terms of the child's ability to make sense of his or her experiences, and the range of options available to express distress or anxiety and to find safety;
  • IMPACT UPON PROTECTIVE PARENT; The impact of D.V. upon the child is significantly related to the extent to which it undermines the protective parent's capacity to maintain an environment of "positive safety"(emotional and physical);
  • FREQUENCY AND NATURE OF VIOLENCE/ABUSE; The longer the abuse occurs, the more likely it becomes ingrained as inevitable. This can have the effect of normalising the feelings of powerlessness as well as confirming the activity of violence -"it's what happens!" domestic violence and abuse typically consists of a range of controlling behaviours which can include the sexual abuse of children;
  • CHILD'S POSITION AND ROLE IN THE FAMILY; There are a number of factors here to consider. A younger child may find comfort and protection from older "parental" siblings. Some children may act as the "lightening rod" and divert danger away from others. Some may be drawn into close alliances with perpetrator or victim with a range of consequences. The opportunity to play a part can be both a protective and risk factor depending upon the degree to which it enables the young person to deliver a solution and safety, or to make him or her unsafe both physically and emotionally;
  • CULTURE, RACE AND RELIGION: The Impact of D.V. is influenced by the degree to which a child is able to make sense of what is happening and to believe it can be stopped. If the culture of the family incorporates the belief that "these things happen", and that the perpetrator can not be properly challenged, then there will clearly be an effect upon the child. Some communities held together by race, culture or religion may deny those within it the opportunity to seek help from elsewhere, and the "misuse of power and control" which lies at the heart of D.V.can therefore remain unchallenged. Conversely, a clearly held belief by a culture or faith that violence is unacceptable with offenders held accountable for their behaviour, can offer significant support to a child, both as an internalised truth and also as a practical reality if implemented;
  • GENDER: Relevant research relating to maternal deprivation suggests that girls are generally more resilient than boys, largely due to their greater capacity for strategic thinking and action (Rutter et al.). In response to D.V., girls are more likely to protect their siblings and offer support following violence (Jaffe et al 1990.), and boys who witness abuse by their fathers, were more likely than girls to condone violence as adults (Ulrich & Huber 1981, Alexander, Moore & Alexander 1991). It does not necessarily follow though, that boys and girls will conform to the 'inter generational transmission, or cycle of violence' theories, with girls internalising the problem (victim) through anxiety and depression and boys externalising through aggression and victimisation, a view which has been overstated (Hughes 1992). Both boys and girls display externalising and internalising behaviour at different times (Kolbo, Blakely & Engleman 1990), so the research does not follow any consistent or predetermined gender pattern and there is more work to be done here to clarify the complex relationship between girls, boys and domestic violence and abuse.

5. Inter-Relationships

Domestic violence and abusee can exist in families for many years before others are alerted or become aware. It can also be the case that within the family itself, members are slow to accept its presence. This can be due to a number of factors, some of which have already been considered. Models of Family Therapeutic Theory refer to the notion of Homeostasis which relates to the family's instinctive need to maintain itself, and this may be achieved by incorporating destructive and dysfunctional behaviour. It is the case that while victims of D.V. may experience an overwhelming sense of fearfulness and powerlessness, there may also be other factors which prevent them from acknowledging fully the seriousness of theirs and their children's situation, and from taking the necessary steps to make positive changes. It is essential to develop an understanding of these dynamics because "the most effective intervention for ensuring safe and positive outcomes for children living with D.V. is usually to plan a package of support that incorporates risk assessment, trained d.v. support, advocacy and safety planning for the non abusing parent- (Guidance to Local Commissioners of Children's Services, 2006.). The capacity then of the protective parent to understand the nature of their violent relationship, and to seek or accept the above support is a key first step. A Risk Assessment will also need to fully consider each of the three involved parties, the PERPETRATOR, the VICTIM, and the CHILD and their particular interrelationship with each other. Biographical histories will help to identify previous patterns of behaviour by both of the adults and assist in the assessment of their capacity for change. Each assessment needs to be interlinked and INTEGRATED, particularly if undertaken by separate professionals or agencies, to understand and analyse the risks within each family - e.g. the ongoing capacity of the perpetrator to maintain his involvement with, and hold over the family, possibly through contact with a child- and to develop protective behaviour strategies and realistic safety plans.

The following diagram highlights the interconnectedness of the parties and the need to consider all of the relationships (solid line), and their affect upon third parties (dotted line).

Inter-Relationships diagram

6. Interrupted Development

The presence of domestic violence and abuse in the early years of a child's life can have significant consequences if it interrupts the essential developmental requirements of a child from his or her caregivers. As already highlighted, good early year's care can provide a resilience to mitigate later abuse, but domestic violence and abuse can undermine important stages of a young person's development and produce a range of sometimes apparently contradictory effects. While producing lists of effects is not always helpful, especially when appearing contradictory, they can usefully confirm the wide (but not comprehensive) range of possible consequences of D.V., thus alerting us to it's potential presence in current and previously unconsidered cases.

The following chart combines a range of research findings on children and domestic violence and abuse with the work done by Vera Fahlberg on normal and interrupted Child Development.

Click here for Interrupted Development Through Domestic Violence and Abuse (utilising the work of Vera Fahlberg)


Appendix 15: Conceptual Framework for Services and Interventions

Click here for Appendix 15: Conceptual Framework for Services and Interventions

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