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Tameside Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference for Domestic Abuse

Tameside Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference for Domestic Abuse

Advice For Practitioners

Domestic Abuse 

“Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between people who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality”

About the Tameside Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference

The agencies attending the monthly MARAC meeting discuss adult victims who are facing the most dangerous situations of domestic abuse.

  • We discuss cases at the MARAC where the violence is between boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, separated, divorced or living together or maybe, never having lived together. 
  • We discuss violence in same sex relationships. The victim may be female or male. We help family members facing violence from someone else in their family.
  • The focus may be a victim of Forced Marriage or “honour” based abuse
  • We aim to piece together a wide picture of the family situation to assess just who is at risk of violence, abuse and neglect.
  • We do not meet to discuss children primarily but we often highlight dangers facing children to help agencies to protect them.
  • In some situations, we may discuss victims aged 16 – 17 years.

The MARAC is not found just in Tameside. It is an initiative Government backs fully and regards it as a key way to prevent victims repeatedly facing domestic abuse.

The MARAC is a public protection process that sits alongside Safeguarding Children, Safeguarding Adults and Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). It links also to the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) programme which includes a number of Domestic Abuse perpetrators.

Meetings are held each month in Tameside. The Sergeant of the Police Domestic Violence Unit chairs the meeting. Only practitioners attend the meeting.

There is a MARAC Co-ordinator who provides administrative and other specialist support to enable the MARAC to run. She is based in the Domestic Abuse Unit and is the main point of contact for the MARAC. To contact her ring: - 0161 856 9363.

Any practitioner in any agency is urged to make a referral for victims in high risk cases of domestic abuse. High risk can mean the danger of serious assault, arson, honour based abuse, relentless stalking and harassment, sexual violence, suicide or murder.

Practitioners who are concerned about a client in danger from domestic abuse can send a special MARAC referral form to the Police Domestic Abuse Unit asking for that individual to be discussed by partners at the next MARAC meeting. There is a standard referral form used in Tameside that includes a risk assessment check list. Usually professionals operate the MARAC process but a volunteer in a recognised relevant organisation can make a referral.

If the victim normally lives in Tameside, he or she is referred to the Tameside MARAC. The exception would be someone living outside the area on a very temporary basis and returning very soon. It is possible that you may find out about domestic abuse affecting someone outside the area. For Greater Manchester, the Police Domestic Abuse Unit in Tameside can help contact the relevant MARAC on 0161 856 9363. For further afield, contact the Violent Crime Lead in the Community Safety Unit on 0161 342 3997 for advice.

If the victim has a family, in most cases there needs to be a referral regarding child welfare to Children’s Social Care and, in some cases, you may have to pass on information to safeguard an adult with additional needs.

Role of the Victim

  • The MARAC does not require consent of client
  • However - the ideal is to have the Victim’s co-operation
  • Victims do not attend the meeting

A victim cannot refer his or herself to a MARAC meeting. It is a judgement made by a practitioner - but this should follow discussion with the victim. Perhaps your client has disclosed her fears to you or you have pieced together evidence that suggests a high risk domestic abuse situation. To get the best out of the MARAC process, help your client, the victim, understand and agree to it. With your client’s support, the quality of the information you pass on will be more detailed and more up-to-date. It is important to clarify how to contact your client safely – where they are living or staying, mobile telephone numbers etc.

For victims at the highest risk of serious harm, consent to share information is not required. 

Advice for practitioners

Find out who represents your agency at the MARAC meeting

  • If you do not know – contact the MARAC Co-ordinator
  • If you do not have a representative – discuss this with your manager.

Making a Referral

  • Referral forms are completed by practitioners concerned for clients in high risk cases of domestic abuse
  • Completing the form includes doing a risk assessment
  • If possible, discuss your referral with your representative at the MARAC
  • The form is sent to the MARAC Co-ordinator at the Police DV Unit
  • Referrals are accepted up to one week before the monthly MARAC meeting. As at April 2010, the meeting is held on the second Tuesday in the month
  • If they are received after this date, the case is discussed at the next meeting
  • However, the Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate (IDAAS) will arrange to meet your client as soon as a referral is received. The Advocate may contact you for more information or to make a joint visit.
  • In very dangerous situations, the Police will respond before the MARAC meeting
  • However, a referral to the MARAC does not mean your client is formally reporting domestic abuse to the Police
  • In extreme situations – we can hold emergency MARAC meetings
  • If in doubt, ring the Domestic Abuse Unit for advice on a referral – 0161 856 9363
  • Do not just send a referral and leave the matter. Check what you can offer to help the situation

Remember: Agencies will only ever know part of what is happening to their clients. You are not expected to know everything – do not let that stop you making a referral. That is the point of the MARAC – to piece together a fuller picture by sharing information.

Risk Assessment

The risk assessment is a checklist of recognised factors that show how dangerous the domestic abuse is or could escalate to. For example, separating from an abusive partner tends to make the situation more dangerous. 

In addition, the MARAC referral form allows you explain how - in your professional judgement - you believe your client is in danger.

Meeting

  • Cases are discussed in turn
  • Each agency is invited to present their information
  • The MARAC co-ordinator takes notes
  • Due to the number of cases - we cannot spend too long on each case
  • Important to have the right information
  • Important to have the right agencies present at every meeting

Providing information for meetings

  • The MARAC Co-ordinator compiles a list of which individuals are being discussed at the next meeting based on the recent referrals
  • Each month, your representative will receive this list.
  • Your agency representative may ask you for information about one of your clients if s/he is being discussed at the MARAC. Perhaps you did not know this person was a victim of domestic abuse.
  • Sharing personal and sensitive data is permissible – regarding the victim, previous victims, children, perpetrator or any other adult linked to the family but only if it is relevant to assessing the danger, to help make the victim and her/his family safe and/or to help the family move on and survive the abuse.

If you know about anyone else in the family – that could be useful. For example, children from a previous relationship or a new girlfriend who may be in danger

You are looking for anything that may determine how dangerous the situation is and how best to support the victims and his or her family.

Perhaps you can suggest some action that may help or you can put in place?

Actions

  • At the MARAC meeting, the representatives suggest actions their agency can undertake to protect and help the victim
  • A set of actions results from the meeting
  • Your agency representative may ask you to undertake an action arising from the MARAC meeting
  • The MARAC Co-ordinator checks everyone has completed their action before the next MARAC

Do you have a legal power to share information?

To share information lawfully, you must have the legal power (vires) to do so. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998, Section 115 will apply in the majority of domestic violence cases as it provides a legal power to share information for the purposes of the Act (i.e. crime prevention).

  • Legally, we can share relevant information even if it is personal and sensitive in order to prevent a crime. This is why it is important that we discuss only the most dangerous cases of domestic abuse. 
  • We do not want to discuss everything to do with a family. The MARAC representatives need to decide what is pertinent to discuss at the meeting.
  • At each meeting, the representatives are asked to sign a confidentiality notice.
  • Also, all the agencies are signed up the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership information sharing protocol.

Records

  • Records in agencies need to be flagged to show a client has been discussed at the MARAC. It is short hand for “dangerous domestic abuse”.
  • Important to note the date of the meeting
  • Useful to note alleged perpetrators and others linked to a MARAC meeting to keep records up-to-date
  • Remember: this is highly confidential, restricted information requiring safe storage and safe communication

Repeat cases

  • It is vital that you refer back any client who experiences domestic abuse within 12 months of being discussed at the MARAC
  • Check your records to see when case was last discussed
  • You do not have to fill in the whole referral form – just provide the new information
  • This is a significant Government measure.
  • If there is a new perpetrator harming the victim, this is regarded as a new case

The aim is that a number of agencies will keep in contact with the victim and will refer back as soon as further domestic abuse is disclosed or suspected.

Where there is:-

  • Violence or threats of violence to the victim
  • Where there is a pattern of stalking or harassment
  • Where rape or sexual abuse is disclosed

This must be referred back to the MARAC

This is what would be regarded as criminal behaviour if known to the Police.

More than 12 months ago? You will need to complete a new referral form as the situation may have changed significantly.

Contacts

Greater Manchester Police
Domestic Violence Unit
0161 856 9363

Violent Crime Lead
Community Safety Unit
Tameside MBC
0161 342 3997

Tameside Domestic Violence Helpline
0800 328 0967

Men’s Advice Line
For men experiencing domestic violence.
Free from most landlines and mobiles.
0808 801 0327
Mon-Tues-Weds
10.00am–1.00pm and 2.00pm–5.00pm
info@mensadviceline.org.uk

National Domestic Violence Helpline
24 hours free and confidential
0808 2000 247

Broken Rainbow
Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people experiencing domestic abuse.
08452 60 44 60
Mon 2.00pm-4.00pm; Wed 10.00–1.00pm; Thurs 2.00pm–8.00pm

Bridges Service
Email: domestic@newcharter.co.uk  
Tel: 0161 331 2552

Page last updated: 30 September 2014