Victims/survivors of domestic abuse - multi-agency risk assessment and interventions: report

A report relating to the development of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Maracs) covering views, themes and recommendations identified at a series of stakeholder deep dive sessions in 2021.

2. Background and Overview

Purpose and Approach

1. Equally Safe[1], the Scottish Government and COSLA's co-owned strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls, identifies effective Marac operation as a key component in addressing violence against women and girls in Scotland.

2. The Scottish Government has funded SafeLives to support the development of Maracs across Scotland, through the Marac Development Programme and the Marac Development Lead post between 2015-2021, and since October 2021 through the Safer, Sooner multi-agency programme. SafeLives collects and reports on Scottish Marac data. As of August 2021 there were 32 Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Maracs) operating in 29 Local Authorities in Scotland (see Appendix A). It is worth noting that Marac only represents one part of multi-agency risk management work for domestic abuse cases.

3. The Scottish Government ran a consultation on how to improve multi agency risk assessment and interventions for victims/survivors of domestic abuse from 30 November 2018 to 2 March 2019, and sought views on opportunities to improve multi-agency risk assessment and interventions for victims/survivors of domestic abuse in Scotland. In particular, the consultation aimed to explore how best to ensure victims/survivors of domestic abuse in local communities across Scotland could benefit from a more consistent approach and how local arrangements could be strengthened to support the objectives of Equally Safe.

The consultation asked seven 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/survivors 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/survivors of domestic abuse
  • 5. Guidance required to support and embed effective multi-agency working for victims/survivors of domestic abuse
  • 6. Protocols needed to ensure effective information sharing between agencies
  • 7. Whether multi-agency arrangements for protecting victims/survivors of domestic abuse should be placed on a statutory footing.
  • 4. A number of key themes and observations emerged from the consultation analysis and the Scottish Government and key partners held a number of deep dive sessions over May 2021-July 2021 to explore these themes in more detail. The sessions covered:

    • Risk assessment and whole system responses
    • Information sharing
    • Collective leadership and accountability
    • Training and workforce development
    • Children and young people
    • National guidance and statutory footing;
    • Authentic voice and intersectionality.

    5. This report outlines key observations, views and themes for further discussion in each session, as well as recommendations and the next steps we hope to take in order to develop an action/implementation plan, and improve our systems and responses.

    Deep Dive Attendees

    6. The events were attended by a wide range of senior third sector and public sector stakeholders from across the sector, including Marac chairs and co-ordinators, VAW Partnership Lead Officers and Chairs, Adult Protection and Child Protection Lead Officers, Social Workers, Housing Officers, Children's Services Managers, Health and Social Care Team Managers, Women's Aid Managers, Police Inspectors and Public Health leads.

    7. In order to ensure a diverse range of views and experiences were considered at each event, an open invitation to attend each deep dive was promoted widely through key networks and newsletters, with an average of 65 partners registering for each event. The agenda for each session was co-designed with key third sector and public sector partners.

    Glossary & Abbreviations

    COSLA – Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

    CYPChildren and young people

    Dash – Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour Based Violence Risk Indicator Checklist (also known as DASH RIC). Dash is an evidence-based tool supporting agencies to make defensible decisions about risk and safety for victims of domestic abuse. It was developed by SafeLives and partners to help practitioners who work with adult victims/survivors of domestic abuse to identify those who are at high risk of harm and whose cases should be referred to Marac in order to manage their risk.

    DAQDomestic Abuse Questions (used by Police Scotland). DAQ is based on the Dash, with three additional questions to support decision making in relation to child protection.

    Idaa – Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate; in the definition agreed by SafeLives, ASSIST and Scottish Women's Aid, the main purpose of an Idaa is to address the safety of victims at high risk of harm from intimate partners or ex-partners to secure their safety and the safety of their children. In the context of Marac, an Idaa 'provides specialist support before, during and after the Marac to address the risks faced by the victim; representing their views and wishes at the meeting, sharing expertise and co-ordinating the action plan'.

    MAPPAMulti Agency Public Protection Arrangements, a UK-wide mechanism through which the police, NHS, prison service and local authorities work together to assess and manage the risk posed by violent and sexual offenders; more detail on the workings of MAPPA is available on the Scottish Government website and on the MAPPA site.

    Marac – Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference. Maracs are regular, local meetings where information about domestic abuse victims/survivors at high risk of serious harm (including murder) is shared between representatives from a range of local agencies to jointly assess the risks and inform a coordinated action plan to increase the safety of the victim/survivor and their children.

    Maracs are a specific model of multi-agency risk assessment and working for victims/survivors at high risk of harm as a result of domestic abuse. Where the report uses the terms 'multi-agency working' or 'multi-agency responses', it is describing multi-agency risk assessment and working more generally and not only Maracs.

    PHSPublic Health Scotland

    SGScottish Government

    SWA Scottish Women's Aid

    VAWGViolence Against Women and Girls



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