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.

7. Collective Leadership and Accountability

30. Attendees were asked to consider:

i. General

  • How to ensure that Violence Against Women and Girls is recognised as a key strategic priority both nationally and locally;
  • The barriers to this happening and how to overcome these; and
  • The key leadership roles that should be involved and how to help those in leadership roles to recognise their role in tackling violence against women and girls.

ii. Marac

  • How to ensure there is strong collective leadership for the Marac model and that senior leaders within organisations understand the role they can play in ensuring senior buy-in within and across partner organisations; and
  • How to ensure organisations and staff involved are held accountable to the process, its values and their own responsibilities.

31. Key messages from the deep dive included:

  • Embedding a robust understanding of domestic abuse in assessment tools, processes and interventions would be beneficial and would ensure structures and systems recognise preventing and tackling domestic abuse is everyone's responsibility.
  • It would be beneficial to develop or put in place accountability and quality assurance processes for Maracs to ensure a consistent and robust response across all local authority areas.

Key Discussion Points

32. When asked to consider how to ensure that violence against women and girls is recognised as a key strategic priority and how to overcome any barriers to this happening, attendees noted:

  • Work in this area can be very siloed which can lead to some organisations/ policy areas not recognising tackling and preventing domestic abuse work as their responsibility.
  • There is currently a lack of accountability in national and local government around progressing this agenda and leadership is often driven by individuals rather than embedded in cross-policy systems and structures.
  • A 'hearts and minds campaign' could be helpful to promote effective collective leadership. This could help ensure people in relevant areas and roles recognise their responsibilities and develop their understanding of gender based violence.
  • Embedding domestic abuse in routine work and assessment tools would be beneficial, and would ensure structures and systems recognise preventing and tackling domestic abuse is everyone's responsibility.
  • It would be helpful to create a plan for embedding national priorities at a local level, with clear lines of responsibility for implementation.

33. When asked about how to ensure strong collective leadership for the Marac model and appropriate accountability processes, attendees reflected:

  • In terms of improving how Maracs operate across Scotland, it is important to recognise what works well and work towards achieving this. The principles of an effective Marac are applicable to all, but their implementation must take account of local/geographical differences;
  • There is a need to ensure parity with other public protection agendas;
  • There is a need to ensure Maracs have a wide range of knowledge and experience at the table, everyone should be respected equally and have the opportunity to contribute. No single organisation can do this alone. We need to rely on each other's expertise and work collaboratively;
  • There is potential for further work to confirm the key organisations/ policy areas that need to be involved in Marac, and to consider how we help those in leadership positions recognise their role in tackling Violence Against Women and Girls;
  • A whole system approach is needed with strong governance in place. An inter-connected co-ordinated approach creates visibility and provides a framework that ensures cohesion, consistency and accountability;
  • A clearer delineation of roles and responsibilities, and how these can support others during the Marac process, would be beneficial and could be informed by an exploration of the relationship between Maracs and the work of partners;
  • Maracs should operate to a similar standard in general to ensure a consistent response;
  • It would be helpful to develop and ensure resources and support are available to elected representatives in their leadership role to improve and develop understanding of the impact of gender inequality, including VAWG;
  • A National Chairs Group consisting of VAWG Chairs and SG representatives could be useful and we should consider how Maracs engage with local Violence Against Women Partnerships and explore how this relationship could be enhanced.

Themes for Further Discussion

34. The following themes emerged from the deep dive session as key issues and possible actions to be explored. They will be considered as part of the Advisory Group's development of recommendations and an action/implementation plan:

i. How can we ensure all Maracs operate to a similar standard with associated governance and quality assurance processes, and foster leadership buy-in?

Actions could include:

  • Development of a local (and national) champions' network to promote VAWG (possibly with a focus on Marac) across relevant systems and structures;
  • Encouraging chief officers and other key local leaders to attend a Marac meeting to gain a better understanding of how they work and the critical role they play
  • holding a national VAWG Marac conference to raise the profile of this issue and invite national and local leaders to attend
  • embedding Equally Safe principles within wider strategic plans and frameworks at a local and national level
  • ensure support is available for elected representatives in their role to improve and develop understanding of gender equality issues
  • Ensuring that guidance or statutory guidance (including, where relevant, existing guidance in relation to VAWG) makes clear the roles that local partners are expected to take in Marac and other multi-agency risk assessment and working, has the senior buy-in required, and the resources available to support local partners' participation
  • Embedding domestic abuse in routine work and assessment tools



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