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2.2.23 Domestic Violence and Abuse


Contents

  1. Definition
  2. Possibility of Significant Harm to Child
  3. Possible Indicators of Domestic Violence and Abuse
  4. Additional Considerations if Parent Fleeing Domestic Violence and Abuse
  5. Initial Response to Recognition of Domestic Violence and Abuse
  6. Police Notification Procedure
  7. Referral to CSS
  8. Notification to CSS
  9. All Agencies Response to Recognition/Notification of Domestic Violence and Abuse
  10. Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACS)
  11. The Aims of MARAC
  12. Process
  13. Repeat MARAC
  14. Safeguarding Processes
  15. Children Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) Responsibilities
  16. Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme


1. Definition

1.1

Domestic Violence and Abuse is defined as:

“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.
1.2

Domestic Violence and Abuse is intentional, functional and instrumental. The abuser uses power to exercise coercive control within a relationship. Examples of abusive behaviours are:

  • Psychological / emotional abuse – intimidation and threats (e.g. about children or family pets), social isolation, verbal abuse, humiliation, constant criticism, enforced trivial routines;
  • Physical violence – slapping, pushing, kicking, punching, stabbing, damage to property or items of sentimental value, attempted murder or murder;
  • Physical restriction of freedom – controlling who the victim or child/ren see or where they go, what they wear or do, stalking, imprisonment, Forced Marriage;
  • Sexual violence – any non-consensual sexual activity, including rape, sexual assault, coercive sexual activity or refusing safer sex; and
  • Financial abuse – stealing, depriving or taking control of money, running up debts, withholding benefits books or bank cards.
1.3 Whilst most commonly associated with violence perpetrated by men against women, Domestic Violence and Abuse can also be perpetrated by women to men, can occur within same sex relationships and to / from a child or to an adult a carer may be looking after.
1.4 Domestic Violence and Abuse can and does take place where the perpetrator and/or the primary victim are under 18 and victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse aged 16 and 17 are recognised under a new cross-government definition implemented in March 2013. Violence from a child under 18 to an adult or within a relationship between or involving a young person under 18 should be considered within youth offending or Child Protection as relevant, as the legal responsibilities and duties of agencies are different when the primary victim or perpetrator is a child.
1.5 Domestic Violence and Abuse may be exacerbated by other factors e.g. mental illness, substance misuse (including alcohol), homelessness and housing need, pregnancy, new birth and separation.


2. Possibility of Significant Harm to Child

2.1

In 2002, the Adoption and Children Act extended the definition of ‘Harm’ as stated in the Children Act 1989, to include ‘impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another’ (section 120). The Harm is caused by the person who causes the child to see or hear the ill treatment, which is the perpetrator who chooses to use the violence or abuse. It is not acceptable for perpetrators or others to describe this as unintentional or to hold the victim responsible for the child witnessing the abuse.

Prolonged or regular exposure to domestic violence can have a serious impact on a child’s development and emotional well-being, despite the best efforts of the victim parent to protect the child.

Domestic violence has an impact in a number of ways. The impact will be exacerbated when violence is combined with any form of substance misuse. See also Parental Substance (Drugs and Alcohol) Misuse (including pregnancy) Procedure.
2.2

Significant Harm to the child as a result of Domestic Violence and Abuse may arise from children being:

  • Aware of Domestic Violence and Abuse; and/or
  • Affected by it directly; and/or
  • Affected by the consequences of it; and/or
  • Targeted as part of it; and
  • Where the primary victim and perpetrator are both adults, whether the relationship is between adults of opposite sex or same sex.
2.3 Risk is affected by dynamic factors and can therefore change suddenly. Professionals should therefore bear in mind that a piece of information currently not known could raise or lower the threshold of risk for a child.
2.4 Children’s exposure to adult conflict, even where violence is not present, can lead to serious anxiety and distress. Research evidence indicates a strong link between Domestic Violence and Abuse and all types of abuse and Neglect.
2.5

Prolonged and/or serious Domestic Violence and Abuse can have a serious impact on a child’s development and emotional well-being:

  • Adverse psychological effects of witnessing or being aware of threats or actual violence between adults whether the relationship is between adults of the opposite sex or the same sex;
  • Risk of physical injury, either by accident in the midst of a violent incident or by design from a violent adult, including Harm to the unborn baby (assaults on pregnant women often involve punches / kicks directed at the abdomen);
  • Negative impact on the victim’s ability to look after her/his child/ren as a result of assaults and/or psychological abuse;
  • Risk of being drawn into the violence or pressurised into concealing the assaults or trying to protect the abused parent.
2.6

Consideration must also be given to young people who may themselves be in violent relationships and be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm through physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse.

Young women in the 16 to 24 age group are most at risk of being victims of domestic violence, some of whom may be teenage mothers. Research by the University of Bristol and the NSPCC has also found that young people in the 13 to 16 age group are also vulnerable to abuse within relationships (see Barter, C. et al (2009). Partner Exploitation and Violence in Teenage Intimate Relationships).


3. Possible Indicators of Domestic Violence and Abuse

3.1

Possible indicators of Domestic Violence and Abuse in the victim include:

  • Evidence of single or repeated injuries with unlikely explanations;
  • Frequent use of prescribed tranquillisers or pain medication;
  • Injuries to breast, chest and abdomen especially during pregnancy;
  • Evidence of sexual or frequent gynaecological problems;
  • Frequent visits to GP with vague complaints or symptoms;
  • Stress or anxiety disorders; isolation from friends, family or colleagues; depression, panic attacks or other symptoms; alcohol and/or drug abuse; suicide attempts or child acting out at school;
  • Appearing frightened, ashamed or evasive; a partner who is extremely jealous or possessive; minimisation of violence accepting blame for ‘deserving’ the abuse.
3.2

When a victim is not being seen alone, staff should also be alert to the following combination of signals:

  • The victim waits for her/his partner to speak first;
  • The victim glances at her/his partner each time s/he speaks, checking her/his reaction;
  • The victim smoothes over any conflict;
  • The partner speaks for most of the time;
  • The partner sends clear signals to the victim, by eye / body movement, facial expression or verbally, to warn them;
  • The partner has a range of complaints about the victim, which s/he does not defend.
3.3

Practitioners should be aware that some victims may face additional difficulty in disclosing abuse for instance:

  • Older or disabled victims may be dependent on the abuser for care;
  • Often victims may not be aware that they are a victim of Domestic Violence and Abuse and may not be able to name it as such – they have normalized the abuse they receive within their relationship and may have difficulty in accepting the relationship as abusive;
  • Victims from ethnic minority groups, where the violence can be  perpetrated by the immediate and extended family members or relate to forced marriage issues, may be more isolated due to religious and/or cultural pressures, language barriers, having no recourse to public funds or fear of bringing shame to their ‘family honour’ See the Honour Based Violence Procedure;
  • Male victims who feel ashamed due to the perceived social stigma attached to being  in a relationship where the women is the abusive towards him;
  • Victims from same sex relationships who fear stigma and prejudice or threats of exposing their sexual orientation;
  • Victims with other problems e.g. mental health or substance misuse issues, may fear that they will not be believed;
  • Victims may have had threats made about removing or harming the children from the perpetrator if the abuse is disclosed;
  • Victims will want the violence and abuse to stop, but may want to save the relationship.

For children living in situations of Domestic Violence and Abuse the effects may result in behavioural issues, absence from school, difficulties concentrating, lower school achievement, ill health, bullying, substance misuse, self-harm, running away, anti-social behaviour and physical injury.


4. Additional Considerations if Parent Fleeing Domestic Violence and Abuse

4.1 Victims are at most risk at the point of leaving, or having recently left the violent partner and may need support.
4.2

A parent and child/ren fleeing from Domestic Violence and Abuse may require a significant level of support as they may be:

  • Experiencing problems with housing, finance and employment;
  • Isolated from usual family support / community networks – especially if moved / placed outside their home area;
  • Struggling to provide / maintain stability;
  • Living in fear of being found by partner;
  • Fear of being issued with Child Arrangements Orders.
4.3 Women with children fleeing Domestic Violence and Abuse may receive support from the housing department. Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) should be included in planning the course of action if relocation is necessary.


5. Initial Response to Recognition of Domestic Violence and Abuse

5.1

The three key imperatives for any intervention for children living with domestic violence are:

  1. To protect the child/ren, including unborn child/ren;
  2. To empower the adult victim to protect themselves and their children;
  3. To hold the abusive partner accountable for the violence and provide opportunities for change.
5.2

Police are often the first point of contact and they (or any other agency that becomes aware of Domestic Violence and Abuse) should undertake a risk assessment, ensure the safety of the victim and:

  • Ascertain whether there are any children or vulnerable person living in the household or if the victim is pregnant;
  • Make a preliminary determination of the degree of exposure of the children to the incidents of violence and its consequent impact;
  • Ascertain whether there is / will be a separation between the victim and suspect;
  • If there is an immediate direct risk to a child, ensure immediate protective action is taken;
  • Ascertain if any of parents / carers has problems with alcohol / drugs / mental health;
  • Ascertain the level of isolation of the victim from family and friends;
  • Provide the victim with information on local support services and refuge details, taking into account any ethnic or cultural issues. The Kent and Medway Domestic Violence and Abuse Strategy Group (KMDASG) provide a website (Domestic Abuse) which contains a variety of information sets for the victim, perpetrator and family members.


6. Police Notification Procedure

6.1 Where there are children under the age of 18 years in the household, the police officer attending a domestic incident must undertake a Domestic Abuse Stalking, Harassment and Honour Based Violence (DASH) risk assessment and complete the following tasks before the end of her/his tour of duty.
6.2 Inform the parent/carer that details of the incident maybe shared with partner agencies in accordance with these procedures.
6.3 Complete a risk identification form providing full details of child/ren including ages, indicating in the record if and of what a parent / carer refuses to provide details.
6.4 Ensure details of incidents are electronically recorded, safety planning and safeguarding via Domestic Abuse website are put in place and the DASH Risk Assessment is completed.
6.5 Confirm relevant information leaflets on local support services and refuge details have been provided (or provide an explanation if this has not been accomplished).
6.6 Police will normally have advised parents verbally that the record will be given to other agencies. The varied circumstances of police attendance may mean that this does not happen explicitly. Nevertheless, it is still possible and appropriate to share the record of this information with other agencies (see Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure).
6.7 The patrol supervisor or Central Referral Unit Detective Sergeant should quality assure the DASH risk assessment together with safety planning and safeguarding as per Kent Police policy N30.


7. Referral to CSS

7.1
  • Where the Domestic Violence and Abuse adult victim is identified as high risk and a child is resident/normally;
  • Child assaulted during Domestic Violence and Abuse incident;
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children 2010, Paragraph 11.88, (now archived) – “where child under 1 year old or unborn regardless of whether present or not, even if single incident”. (CSS must ensure that the midwifery/health visiting service is informed);
  • A referral to CSS will be made where an incident is Medium risk and there has been three previous incidents in the rolling 12 months;
  • Where the risk is standard or medium but the wider factors surrounding the circumstances require CSS to be informed e.g. low level neglect / mental health;
  • A parent is fleeing Domestic Violence and Abuse leaving a child with the allegedly violent perpetrator;
  • Where the child normally resident is a Child in Care (Kent) / Looked after Child (Medway).


8. Notification to CSS

8.1
  • Where it is known that the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan;
  • Where police believe the child is already open to CSS;
  • Where it is known that although the child is not resident, they are subject to care proceedings;
  • Where it is the first Domestic Violence and Abuse report but the victim details historic abuse with children resident/normally resident;
  • Where there are issues around child contact;
  • Where the Domestic Violence and Abuse adult victim is medium risk and the child is a witness;
  • Where the Domestic Violence and Abuse adult victim is standard risk and the child is a witness.
8.2 Victim Support should be notified, if the aggrieved person requests it.
8.3 In the event of a Domestic Violence and Abuse incident resulting even in an offence as serious magnitude of murder or rape, the above procedures must still be followed.


9. All Agencies Response to Recognition/Notification of Domestic Violence and Abuse

9.1 This procedure applies to all practitioners in LSCB agencies. Other organisations e.g. refuges should also be encouraged to adopt them.

Agency History

9.2 On notification / disclosure / suspicion of Domestic Violence and Abuse in a family, all agencies must immediately consult existing records and consider what else is known of the family and any previous domestic incidents.
9.3 Those in receipt of Police Service notifications may contact the combined safeguarding team or neighbourhood officers if more information is required.

Information Sharing

9.4 Multi-agency work and information sharing, in accordance with Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure of this manual is important in safeguarding children in situations of Domestic Violence and Abuse.
9.5 Each case should be judged on its own merits, but there can be times when standards of good practice indicate certain practitioners ought to share information / make referrals, even when this is initially without the knowledge of the parties involved or contrary to their specific wishes, particularly when a victim of Domestic Violence and Abuse is assessed as being at high risk of further Harm.
9.6 The decision to share or not to share information of Domestic Violence and Abuse must be recorded, with its rationale.
9.7 Police share information of Domestic Violence and Abuse incidents as described above and in accordance with Information Sharing protocols.
9.8

When other agencies have information about Domestic Violence and Abuse, it must be shared with Local Authority Children’s Services if:

  • There has been a serious incident regardless of whether the child was present at the time e.g. injury to parent;
  • An alleged victim is a child her/himself;
  • A parent is fleeing Domestic Violence and Abuse, leaving a child with the allegedly violent partner;
  • A parent and child/ren are fleeing Domestic Violence and Abuse (the victim may return home and/or alleged perpetrator may seek them out) and there is a risk of contact with the alleged perpetrator;
  • The alleged victim is pregnant and continuing to have contact with the alleged perpetrator;
  • There is a child under the age of 2 in the household;
  • There have been previous serious incidents;
  • There is a history of aggressive violence or ‘stalking’ by the perpetrator (this may or may not include convictions);
  • There are / have been allegations of sexual assault or rape;
  • There has been more than one minor Domestic Violence and Abuse incident within the last 12 months;
  • The child/ren have witnessed or been distressed through hearing incident/s of Domestic Violence and Abuse.
9.9

Consideration must be given to sharing information if there are / have been:

  • Parental difficulties e.g. mental health, substance misuse, parental learning disability;
  • Previous child welfare concerns;
  • Concerns about abuse of animals;
  • Knowledge of particular family stressors e.g. disability or health related, housing / immigration / legal / financial / social isolation;
  • Separation / contact issues.


10. Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACS)

10.1 The MARAC is a multi-agency response to tackling Domestic Violence and Abuse. The role of the conference is to facilitate, monitor and evaluate effective information sharing to enable appropriate action to be taken in respect of Domestic Violence and Abuse. This means that risks are assessed and quantified and subsequently managed with an overall view to protect victims, their children and the general public. CAADA (Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse) who are a national organisation, have taken a lead on assisting local authorities to develop MARAC. This includes providing training, consultation and inspection of MARAC ‘active’ areas.
10.2 Risk management is generally completed through a process of obtaining a complete and as accurate-as-possible picture of the victims, perpetrator and their associated histories. In meeting this objective, defensible decision making is key to ensuring that those people at highest risk and those people presenting risk are dealt with appropriately.
10.3 In Kent and Medway MARACs are held monthly. There are 7 MARAC meetings held monthly across the County encompassing 13 districts. All MARACs are hosted by the police and facilitated by a police employed MARAC Coordinator. The optimum number of cases discussed at MARAC per month/fortnight, as defined by CAADA is based upon the population in each area.
10.4 The responsibility to take appropriate actions as identified at the MARAC rests with individual agencies; it is not transferred to the MARAC.


11. The Aims of MARAC

11.1

The aims of MARAC are to:

  • To provide and share intelligence and information on individuals subject to MARAC to increase safety, health and well being of victim (adult and children);
  • To determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk to any particular individual or to the general community;
  • Jointly construct and implement a risk management plan that provides professional support to all those at risk and that reduces the risk of Harm;
  • To reduce repeat victimisation;
  • Improve agency accountability;
  • Improve support and safety for staff in high risk DA cases.
11.2 The police host MARAC meetings in Kent and Medway. The meetings are chaired by the  Combined Safeguarding Team (CST) and are facilitated by the local MARAC Coordinator.
11.3

Meetings are attended by a variety of statutory and non-statutory agencies this may include:

  • Police;
  • Local Authority Children’s Services and Adult Services;
  • Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs);
  • Specialist Domestic Violence and Abuse services including local women’s aid, refuge providers and victim support services;
  • Health representatives (midwifery, health visitors, Child Protection nurses and other staff as appropriate;
  • Housing;
  • Probation;
  • Education;
  • Mental Health;
  • Homelessness team;
  • Connexions;
  • Local drug and alcohol services;
  • Children and Family Court Advisory Service (CAFCASS);
  • Youth Offending Services.
11.4 It is expected that those who attend are proactive in sharing information and offering actions.
11.5 The victim or perpetrator or their children do not attend MARAC. However the victim will be asked for their consent to share information unless it poses a significant risk, to those concerned, to do so.


12. Process

12.1 Initial identification by participating agencies of high risk Domestic Violence and Abuse cases using appropriate risk assessment tools. (DASH – Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour based violence) or from the agency concerned using their professional judgement to decide a case requires referral to MARAC or an escalation in incidents of domestic abuse.
12.2 Referral to MARAC Coordinator. There is an expectation that referral of cases will be a multi-agency process and that the referring agency will present their case at MARAC. The MARAC Coordinator incorporates all high risk cases into the agenda for next MARAC meeting.
12.3 Cases to be discussed at the next MARAC are circulated in the form of an agenda 8-10 days before the MARAC to all appropriate agencies. It is the duty of those agencies to research information on cases included in the agenda, to share at MARAC.
12.4 The chair of the meeting (CST Detective Inspector) introduces participants and ensures that everyone has signed a standard confidentiality agreement that all participants must agree to during the course of the meeting. Details of this document are described in the Domestic Violence and Abuse Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) for Kent and Medway Information Sharing Agreement.
12.5 All information discussed during the MARAC is confidential and must not be discussed with anyone else outside of the meeting unless agreed by all MARAC members. For example if an action has been agreed, then in order to discharge that action fully the participating agency may need to discuss some aspects of the case with colleagues and other professionals. This will be agreed at the time of the action offered.
12.6 Agreed actions are circulated to all participating agencies in the form of an action plan within 24 hours of the MARAC taking place, and minutes are circulated within 10 working days.
12.7 It is expected that actions agreed at one MARAC will either be discharged appropriately or designated as ongoing at the time of the next MARAC. Any outstanding actions must be reported to the MARAC Coordinator before the next MARAC.


13. Repeat MARAC

13.1 A system for repeat referrals is crucial for the safe functioning of MARAC. A case will be re-referred to MARAC as a repeat case in the event of any further significant incident occurring in the twelve months since the case was last brought to conference. Significant events include: violence or threats of violence to the victim, pattern of stalking or harassment or where rape or sexual abuse is disclosed.
13.2 Any agency can re-refer a case to MARAC; the further incident does not have to meet the threshold levels of an initial referral to MARAC.


14. Safeguarding Processes

14.1 When it has been identified through MARAC that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm then appropriate actions to safeguard that child, such as convening a strategy discussion or child protection conference, should be agreed at MARAC as a matter of urgency.
14.2 Generally when a ‘high risk’ DA victim is identified by any organisation, a referral must be made to Local Authority Children’s Services, where appropriate, as soon as possible, for children who are present or ordinarily resident at the premises. Agencies should not wait until MARAC for this to happen.


15. Children Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) Responsibilities

15.1 Following notification of Domestic Violence and Abuse and consultation of agency history, Local Authority Children’s Services must decide how to respond to each communication of Domestic Violence and Abuse.

Agency Checks

15.2

The Duty Senior may decide to treat the communication as ‘information and advice’ only if all the following apply:

  • It is the first report of Domestic Violence and Abuse in the last 12 months; and
  • The report concerns a minor incident, without injury; and
  • There are no other indicators of risk e.g. none of the circumstances in Paragraph 9.8 apply and there are no high risk indicators in the Police / other agency assessment.
15.3 Generally, further information from other agencies is required before a decision can be made about the appropriate threshold of response.
15.4

In making the decision about seeking information prior to / after direct contact with the family, consideration should be given to the:

  • Likely impact to the child and the adult victim, including the possibility of increasing the risk of Domestic Violence and Abuse;
  • Need for an approach that takes full account of information available on home circumstances.

Direct Contact

15.5 Police should have already provided the victim with information leaflets.
15.6 Careful consideration should be given to the purpose and method of contacting the family, particularly in relation to the wording of any letters sent out to the family.
15.7 Where the threshold criteria for a Local Authority Children’s Services Child and Family Assessment / Section 47 Enquiry are not met, consideration should be given to the use of universal services e.g. undertaking a common assessment / CAF, if this is thought to be less likely to exacerbate the situation.

Child and Family Assessment / Section 47 Enquiries

15.8 A minimum response of a strategy discussion must be undertaken for any serious incidents of Domestic Violence and Abuse (e.g. where an injury has occurred) and where a child is living / regularly staying at the household.
15.9 Child and Family Assessments should also be undertaken for lesser incidents where there are possible concerns about the welfare of the children e.g. the circumstances described in Paragraph 9.8 and / or high risk on the Police assessment.
15.10

More minor incidents should be considered individually, but:

  • No more than 1 incident within 12 months should be reported without the completion of at least a Child and Family Assessment;
  • No more than 3 minor incidents should be allowed to occur without the completion of at least a Child and Family  Assessment.
15.11 If the family refuses to co-operate with a Child and Family Assessment, consideration should be given to the justification for a Section 47 Enquiry.
15.12

Circumstances in which a Section 47 Enquiry should be undertaken include those when:

  • A child has experienced Significant Harm during any Domestic Violence and Abuse incident (even if inadvertently injured);
  • A child has witnessed another being seriously injured;
  • The victim is pregnant or there is a child under 2 in the household;
  • There has been an escalation in frequency and/or severity of incidents (reported or not);
  • The violence involved sexual assault or attempted strangulation or the use of weapons or threats to kill.
15.13 If a child is known to be involved in a violent relationship, a Section 47 Enquiry should be initiated e.g. a child involved in a relationship with a violent girlfriend / boyfriend.
15.14 Whenever a Child and Family Assessment or Section 47 Enquiry is undertaken there must be liaison with all agencies involved with the family and the child/ren must be seen.
15.15 If there is evidence that a child may have experienced Significant Harm during any Domestic Violence and Abuse incident, a child protection enquiry must be undertaken.
15.16 For any serious incidents of Domestic Violence and Abuse between adults, where there is a child in the household, a Child and Family Assessment must be undertaken and consideration given to undertaking a Section 47 Enquiry.
15.17 If the family refuses to co-operate with the assessment, consideration should be given as to the threshold for a Section 47 Enquiry (see Child Protection (Section 47) Enquiries Procedure.

Assessment Process

15.18 Whenever a Child and Family Assessment is undertaken there should be liaison with all agencies involved with the family.
15.19 Careful consideration should be given to the wording of any letters sent out to the family and opportunities provided for both partners to be interviewed separately, and in a safe setting.
15.20

Many victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse feel unable to disclose its existence or severity. The following issues should be discussed with the alleged victim as part of any assessment:

  • Severity, frequency and history of any violence, threats etc;
  • Circumstances of the violence and if compounded by drugs / alcohol;
  • Extent and nature of the children’s experience of the violence;
  • Perception of risk to the child/ren;
  • Threats used – consider all household members;
  • Available options – immediate and in the long term;
  • Factors preventing her/him taking action to protect self and children;
  • Whether it is safe to share victim’s perceptions with alleged perpetrator.
15.21 The alleged victim of violence should be advised of the availability of legal advice and the options available through the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 this Act has been updated with a specific offence of stalking included within the Protection of Freedom Act 2012 and the Family Law Act 1996 Part IV.
15.22

The interview with the alleged perpetrator of the violence should be planned carefully between the worker and their line manager. Careful consideration must be given to:

  • How and when the alleged perpetrator is approached;
  • Whether the alleged perpetrator is aware of any disclosure of abuse from the victim and/or that professionals are involved;
  • Victim’s and child/ren’s safety;
  • Issues of confidentiality and information sharing.
15.23

If there is an acknowledgement of violence and abuse, the interview should clarify the points in the Criteria for Excluding Parents or Restricting their Participation Procedure (see Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure, Criteria for Excluding Parents or Restricting their Participation).

If there is no acknowledgement of violence and abuse and it is not possible to share the victim’s account, there should be general discussions about the children’s welfare.
15.24 The children should be interviewed (if of sufficient age and understanding) and their experiences explored. It is important to consider the possibility that a child may have experienced direct abuse her / himself and / or may be inhibited from disclosing concerns due to fear of (further) Domestic Violence and Abuse or (further) abuse.

Intervention

15.25 If a Child Protection Conference is held, consideration should be given to any need to exclude the violent and abusive partner for part or all of the meeting (see Initial Child Protection Conference Procedure, Criteria for Excluding Parents or Restricting their Participation).
15.26

The local authority may pursue legal options of:

  • Relocation of alleged perpetrators of abuse;
  • Injunctions attached to a Section 8 Children Act 1989 Prohibited Steps Order;
  • Exclusion conditions attached to an Emergency Protection and Interim Care Order;
  • An injunction under the Housing Act 1996 (chapter III of Part V) to restrain anti-social behaviour with power of arrest attached, where violence has occurred or is threatened.
15.27 Women with children fleeing Domestic Violence and Abuse may receive support from the housing department. Local Authority Children’s Services should be included in planning the course of action if relocation is necessary.


16. Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) are implemented across England and Wales from 8th March 2014. For more information see Kent Police Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders (DVPNs and DVPOs).

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.

The Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) (also known as ‘Clare’s Law’)  commenced in England and Wales on 8th 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.

Anyone can make an application under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) about an individual who is in an intimate relationship with another person and where there is a concern that the individual may Harm the other person.

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.

To make an application you will need to contact the police. In Kent you can do this by:

  • Visiting a police station (see website www.kent.police.uk);
  • Phoning 101 (no other numbers needed), the non-emergency number for the police

However, if you believe there is an immediate risk of Harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.

Further details can be found here:

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