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Summary

Adults :: Domestic Abuse :: Summary

Domestic abuse is defined by the Home Office as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 years old 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

The definition from the Home Office includes so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. It does not confine victims to gender or a particular ethnic group.

More than 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 7 men have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 in England and Wales [1]. Women are more likely than men to experience domestic abuse. This was true for all types of domestic abuse, other than non-sexual family abuse (year ending March 2017) [1]. National research has found that nearly 1 in 4 young people witnessed at least one type of domestic violence during childhood [2].

Under-reporting makes it difficult to gain a complete picture of the extent of domestic abuse. The most comprehensive national data comes from dedicated sections of the Crime Survey for England and Wales. Findings from the year ending March 2017 estimated that there were 1.2 million female victims of domestic abuse and 713,000 male victims [1].

More than 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 7 men have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 in England and Wales[1]. Women are more likely than men to experience domestic abuse. This was true for all types of domestic abuse, other than non-sexual family abuse in the year ending March 2017[1]. National research has found that nearly 1 in 4 young people witnessed at least one type of domestic violence during childhood[2].

Under-reporting makes it difficult to gain a complete picture of the extent of domestic abuse. The most comprehensive national data comes from dedicated sections of the British Crime Survey. The findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales: year ending March 2017 estimated that there were 1.2 million female victims of domestic abuse and 713,000 male victims[1].

NICE guidance on domestic violence and abuse was published in February 2014, which covers planning and delivering multi-agency services for domestic violence and abuse. It aims to help identify, prevent and reduce domestic violence and abuse among women and men in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, and among young people [3].

The Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy (2016-2020) has been developed and the key objectives are listed on page 22. A Kent and Medway domestic abuse strategic group exists and oversees the implementation of the strategy. The strategy group is a multi-agency partnership that has the aims of reducing domestic abuse and changing attitudes. The group plans on meeting these aims by increasing knowledge and understanding of the impact of domestic abuse across communities and agencies, highlighting the fact that it is everyone's responsibility to tackle domestic abuse whilst emphasising the effectiveness of early identification and intervention.

  Explanation
Preventing violence and abuse Prevent domestic abuse by challenging the attitudes and behaviours which foster it and intervening at the earliest opportunity to prevent escalation to a crisis point.
Provision of services Provision of good quality interventions to meet the needs of a diverse range of victims and their families.
Partnership working Improved links to other areas of safeguarding, improved risk mitigation, and needs led interventions for victims, children and perpetrators, supported by commissioning frameworks
Pursuing perpetrators Take effective sanctions against perpetrators and support sustainable behaviour change, to reduce re-offending.
Table 1: Key objectives of Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy

Risk assessment is based on structured professional judgement. It structures and informs decisions that are already being made. It is only a guide/checklist and should not be seen as a scientific predictive solution. Its completion is intended to assist professionals in the decision making process on appropriate levels of intervention for victims of domestic violence.

The Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment and Honour Based Violence Risk Identification, Assessment and Management Model (DASH) was established in 2009 and allows relevant agencies to use a common checklist for identifying and assessing risk, which will save lives. The tool allows different levels of risk to be identified. These include high, medium and standard:


• High Risk: There is imminent risk of serious harm. The potential event is more likely than not to happen imminently and the impact could be serious. There may be need for immediate intervention. It may be necessary for agencies to notify the Police and/or Children and Young People's Services immediately, without the consent of the victim. Where any agency assesses risk as 'High' an immediate referral to multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) is normally required, with or without consent.


• Medium Risk: There are identifiable features of risk or serious harm. This level of risk should be referred to the local specialist domestic violence and abuse 'Outreach' services with the consent of the individual.


• Standard Risk: While risk indicators may be present, it is deemed neither imminent, nor serious. Action should involve advice stating that nobody needs to live with domestic violence and abuse and that there is support out there.

Key issues and gaps


• A rolling programme of training that is quality assured and embedded within organisations to ensure frontline staff in services are trained to recognise the indicators of domestic violence and abuse and can ask relevant questions to help people disclose their past or current experiences of such violence or abuse.
• Implement a risk assessment tool that considers the needs of children and promotes a think family approach.
• Interventions for perpetrator need to be more widely available in Medway.
• DASH tool is victim focused and as such does not consider the needs to children who may be living with domestic abuse.
• Help people who may find domestic violence and abuse services inaccessible or difficult to use. This includes people from black and minority ethnic groups or with disabilities, older people, transgender people and lesbian, gay or bisexual people. It also includes people with no recourse to public funds.
• Improve the level of support to victims of domestic abuse. This should include ensuring that multiple needs are also taken into account (i.e. mental health, substance misuse, parental/child disabilities).
• The need to ensure that learning from domestic homicide reviews is disseminated to frontline practitioners.

Recommendations for commissioning


• Community based perpetrator programmes need to be prioritised in Medway.
• Ensure that the needs of children affected by domestic violence perpetrated by parents as well as within their own relationships are identified and met.
• Quality assured training package to be rolled out as part of domestic abuse champions programme to ensure consistency across single agencies.
• An integrated pathway should be developed for identifying, referring (either externally or internally) and providing interventions to support people who experience domestic violence and abuse, and to manage those who perpetrate it.


References

[1]   Office for National Statistics. Domestic abuse: findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales: year ending March 2017 2018;
[2]   Radford L, Corral S, Bradley C, et al. The Maltreatment and Victimisation of Children in the UK: NSPCC Report on a national survey of young peoples', young adults and caregivers' experiences 2010; NSPCC. http://www.nspcc.org.uk/inform/research/findings/child_abuse_neglect_research_PDF_wdf84181.pdf .
[3]   National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence. Domestic violence and abuse: multi-agency working 2014; National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence. http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/PH50 .