Information for professionals

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

Many professionals are required to routinely ask anyone they are working with about domestic abuse, which can be an uncomfortable question. You could ask this by saying, “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 say, they were waiting for someone to ask.

How can I support anyone?

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.

You can begin the process of holding an offender accountable in your initial response by determining who the victim is and who the perpetrator is.

Reassure the victim that they are not responsible for the abuse and enhance the safety of the victim as a priority. Evaluate risk, taking into account the previous history of the perpetrator, any threats to kill, stalking and harassment and presence of coercive control.

Create policies and protocols to ensure that domestic abuse cases are handled efficiently and effectively.

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 What can I do to help hold abusers accountable leaflet.

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 indeed perpetrators of abuse. Some older people are abused by other family members - often their children or grandchildren.

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

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 victim’s safety that policy is always followed. Situations involving domestic violence are potentially life threatening.

Risk assessments

It is important to assess the risk to victims. The tool to use is the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment (DASH) risk assessment checklist. You can complete the form with the victim or complete it later but you should ensure to 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 judgement

DASH risk assessment and guidance 

If the situation is high risk, you should make a Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) referral - please see the below section.

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 including representatives from statutory, community and voluntary agencies working with victims, children and perpetrators.

Aims of the MARAC

The aims of the MARAC are to:

  • share information to increase the safety, health and wellbeing of adult victims and survivors and their children
  • determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk to any particular individual or to the general community
  • jointly build and apply a risk management plan that provides professional support to all those at risk and reduces their risk of harm
  • reduce repeat victimisation
  • improve agency accountability
  • improve support for staff involved in high-risk domestic abuse cases

A case can be referred to MARAC if:

  • visible high risk - the victim answers yes to 14 or more questions on the above DASH risk assessment checklist
  • professional judgement - the victim answers yes to less than 14 questions but you believe that the victim is at high risk of serious harm
  • repeat - the case has been discussed at MARAC in the last 12 months and another incident has occurred
  • escalation - the incidents are increasing in volume and severity

If you would like to refer a case to the MARAC please complete the West Midlands regional referral form.

The referral form is relevant to staff and colleagues of all levels, police and non-police, and anyone who is involved with, or may become involved with the MARAC process

MARAC Referral Form

Send your referral form to: marac_referrals@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk.

All general MARAC enquiries can be directed to marac_referrals@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk.

Urgent MARAC enquiries can be directed to the Senior MARAC Coordinator:

Further information

An Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) is a name for a 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.

In Solihull the IDVAs are provided by Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid.

Resources

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 and young people from domestic abuse and together with the Solihull SCP thresholds document will help you understand what actions needs to be taken and by who.

Most of us have an understanding of what we think domestic abuse is. However, while physical violence is a part of domestic abuse, it is much more complex. In most cases, domestic abuse is characterised by repeated acts of bullying, intimidation and manipulation.

This sort of behaviour is known as coercive and controlling behaviour and described as a deliberate pattern of repeated behaviour that works to control, frighten, and isolate victims, leaving them feeling worthless and trapped.

Solihull Safeguarding Adults Board

Statutory guidance

Training

Learning and development is provided by the Solihull Safeguarding Adults Board.

Domestic Homicide Reviews

Under section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Adults Act (2004) the Solihull Community Safety Partnership has a statutory responsibility to conduct a review around the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has (or appears to have) resulted from violence, neglect, or abuse by:

  • a person whom he/she was related or had been in an intimate personal relationship, or
  • a member of the same household

For further information please visit www.solihull.gov.uk/About-the-Council/DHR.