This summary provides an overview of the analysis of the responses received to the Scottish Government’s consultation on improving multi-agency risk assessment and interventions for victims of domestic abuse.
The consultation ran from 30 November 2018 to 2 March 2019, and sought views on how multi-agency risk assessment and working for victims of domestic abuse in Scotland could best be improved. In particular, it aimed to explore how best to ensure a more consistent approach locally and how local arrangements could be strengthened to support the objectives of Equally Safe – Scotland’s strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls.
The consultation asked 7 questions, which respectively addressed:
1. training on domestic abuse and appropriate risk assessment tools
2. the best model of multi-agency working for ensuring effective and early interventions for victims of domestic abuse
3. the best model for professionals assessing risk in relation to domestic abuse
4. the key partners that should be involved in multi-agency working to support victims of domestic abuse
5. guidance required to support and embed effective multi-agency working for victims of domestic abuse
6. protocols needed to ensure effective information sharing between agencies
7. whether multi-agency arrangements for protecting victims of domestic abuse should be placed on a statutory footing.
The consultation received 69 responses. Of these, 51 were from organisations and 18 came from individuals. Half of the organisations who responded were either specialist domestic abuse organisations or Violence Against Women Partnerships.
There were a number of overarching themes which emerged within the responses across questions. These included:
- a need for improved funding and resourcing
- a balance to be struck between implementing national standards, processes and resources to ensure consistency, and allowing enough autonomy at local level for these to be adapted to the local context
- values, approaches or ideologies that should underpin this work, such as:
- a gender-based understanding of domestic abuse
- domestic abuse as caused by the perpetrator, not the victim
- victim-centred approach
- trauma-informed approach
- risk-based approach
- centrality of lived experience.
Comments on training addressed both what the outcomes of the training should be, and practicalities about its delivery (such as who the training should be for; what the training should look like; how and where it should be delivered; and how often it should take place). Many comments suggested that a key aim of training should be to promote improved understanding of domestic abuse, so that responses would be more informed. Also seen to be important were a shared understanding of a multi-agency working model and commitment to this model; nationally consistent support; and good knowledge and use of relevant tools. Responses were divided on whether the training should be for staff working in public services in general, or more specifically for those directly involved in multi-agency risk assessment and interventions for victims of domestic abuse, and their managers.
Responses addressing the best model of multi-agency working for ensuring effective and early interventions for victims of domestic abuse discussed key characteristics and important components that the model should have and examples of named models (including, but not limited to, MARAC and Safe and Together). Support for an overarching national framework and standards emerged again as a strong theme in responses to this question.
In terms of the best risk assessment model for professionals, respondents again commented on key characteristics and important components that the model should have and examples of named risk assessment tools and models. The merits of having a national model, the need for some flexibility, and the necessity of allowing for professional judgement were all discussed. The relative benefits and potential drawbacks of the SafeLives Dash Risk Identification Checklist were addressed within many responses.
An extensive number of key partners were suggested, including but not limited to healthcare, Police, social work, specialist domestic abuse services, housing, education, and substance abuse and addiction services. Responses proposed core partners that might always participate, but also that partners should be adapted to individual circumstance and local context.
Comments on guidance addressed the characteristics that it should have, the format it should take, and in particular, what content they thought it should cover. Again, support for guidance being national but with some local flexibility was a strong theme. It was thought to be important that the guidance cover expectations and governance, aspects of partnership working, language, and communication, among other things.
Respondents to the consultation advocated for information sharing protocols which promote safety, consistency and lawfulness, minimise barriers to data sharing, and promote trust and confidence for victims and between partners. Responses to this question also addressed who responsibility for the protocols should lie with; key characteristics that the protocols should have; key content that the protocols should cover; and the principles that should govern what information is shared.
The final question in this consultation asked whether multi-agency arrangements for protecting victims of domestic abuse should be placed on a statutory footing. In total, 46 of the 69 responses were in favour of this (67%), 12 of the 69 responses were against the proposal (17%), and 11 declined to respond either way (16%).
Comments in response to this question outlined a number of reasons for both supporting and opposing the proposal to place these arrangements on a statutory footing, and some respondents also gave reasons for which they felt unable to answer definitively. Finally, there were also comments on which particular aspects of multi-agency arrangements for protecting victims of domestic abuse should be placed on a statutory footing.