Information for professionals


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If you’re working with a victim of domestic abuse person this page provides advice and can help you make an appropriate referral to other services.

Many professional are required to routinely ask anyone they are working with about domestic abuse, which can be an uncomfortable question. You could ask this by stating “as domestic abuse is so common in our society I’ve started asking all my clients/patients if their partner, or anyone at home, hurts, hits, threatens or intimidates them.

Those who have experienced abuse repeatedly tell us that they were ‘waiting for someone to ask’

How do I support anyone reporting domestic abuse?

You should tell victims of domestic abuse to ring Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid by calling 0808 800 0028 or the Domestic Abuse National Helpline by calling 0808 2000 247. You can also contact West Midlands Police Public Protection Unit for advice regarding safeguarding.

For guidance please refer to our domestic abuse flowchart.

What can I do to help hold abusers accountable?

An abusive partner intervention program is not enough to stop domestic abuse or change abusers’ behaviour. Stopping domestic abuse requires the entire community to respond differently to abusers. No one individual or system can do it alone, but every individual and system can do part of it.

For more information see our leaflet What can I do to help hold abusers accountable.

Older people and domestic abuse

Abuse of older adults happens all too often and is frequently not identified by victims themselves or those around them. It can be difficult to acknowledge that older people can be victims and perpetrators of abuse. Some older people are abused by other family members - often their children or grandchildren.

For more information see our leaflet Older people and domestic abuse.

What are your professional responsibilities?

Where someone is in immediate danger always phone the police on 999.

When someone discloses domestic abuse you’ll need to assess the immediate and long term risks and the needs of the individual and those they have a caring responsibility for, such as children or an adult at risk. They should be signposted or referred to the most appropriate service which will meet their needs.

Where domestic abuse has resulted in a direct or indirect physical injury to a child, Child Protection Procedures must be followed. Further details about safeguarding children in Solihull can be found by visiting the Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP).

When a vulnerable adult is at risk West Midlands Adult Safeguarding Multi-agency procedures must be followed. Adults at risk are people aged over 18 who receive, or may be eligible for, Community Care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who may be unable to take care of themselves or be unable to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation.

If you are unsure of what to do, contact your own manager/safeguarding team. It cannot be emphasised enough how important it is for the victims safety that policy is followed at all times. Situations involving domestic violence are potentially life threatening.

Risk assessments

It is important to assess the risk to victims. The tool to do this is the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment (DASH) risk assessment checklist. You can complete the form together with the victim or afterwards but do fill this in with as much detail as possible.

The situation is high risk if:

  • you tick 14 boxes on the DASH form
  • the abuse is escalating
  • you think the case is high risk based on your professional judgment

If the situation is high risk you should make a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) referral. Referrals must be made securely to using the MARAC referral form.

The Barnardos Screening Tool (BST) should be used to assess the level of risk in cases of domestic abuse where children and young people are involved. It is designed to identify risks to children/young people from domestic abuse and together with LSCP thresholds document will help you understand what actions needs to be taken and by who.

What is a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)?

MARAC is a monthly meeting where professionals meet to share information on high risk cases. Information about the risks faced by victims, the actions needed to ensure safety, and the resources available locally are discussed and used to create a risk management plan involving all agencies. MARAC is part of a coordinated community response incorporating representatives from statutory, community and voluntary agencies working with victims, children and perpetrators.

Aims of the MARAC

  • share information to increase the safety, health and well-being of victims/survivors - adults and their children;
  • 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;
  • reduce repeat victimisation;
  • improve agency accountability;
  • improve support for staff involved in high-risk domestic abuse cases

The MARAC protocol provides further information.

MARAC guidance

What are IDVAs?

IDVA stands for Independent Domestic Violence Advisor. In Solihull the IDVAs are provided by Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid.

An IDVA is a name professional case worker whose purpose is to address the safety of 'high risk' victims and their children. Serving as a victim's main point of contact, IDVAs normally work with their clients from the point of crisis to assess the level of risk, discuss the range of suitable options and develop coordinated safety plans. They attend MARAC as the voice of the victim.