Responding to domestic abuse remains a top priority for Police Forces across the UK. Adopting and developing holistic, multi-agency approaches to such cases on first response and beyond is regarded as key to reducing harm, saving the lives of victims, and holding perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their actions.
On 12th June 2017 around 80 people attended the annual N8 PRP Knowledge Exchange Conference which gave delegates from academia, police and other agencies the opportunity to hear from leading experts from both the US and the UK about existing intervention programmes that are already having a positive impact in this area.
The Duluth Model
Scott Miller and Melissa Scaia gave an enthralling keynote address on The Duluth Model which has been hugely influential for many decades in the area of multi-agency working in domestic violence and abuse. The model focuses on working closely with victims, listening to their lived experiences and using knowledge gained through focus groups in the creation of new policies and procedures, thus allowing victims to directly influence intervention systems. These policies and procedures which are designed to hold offenders accountable are shared across all agencies involved, from first response through to the courts.
“Duluth model guides people to build interventions within systems that align with the lived experience of victims” – Melissa Scaia
Both speakers began the day explaining how The Duluth Model has been designed and how in its creation it identified not only the need to support victims more effectively but also perpetrators too, though without shifting blame and accountability. To address this, the programme offers change opportunities for court-ordered educational groups to men who batter. Around 260 men attend the offenders programme each year and on average 72% of those that attended had not reoffended within eight years, which shows the massive potential of the programme for reducing harm.
The real key to the success of The Duluth Model as Scott and Melissa described, is that the model recognises these types of offences are part of a pattern of behaviours used to control and dominate a partner. It tries to, through every avenue of the intervention system, deliver changes to societal norms that support men’s use of control over women. Alongside this, every step of the response process is tracked through every agency so that informed decision making can happen and staff are able to know the history and context of each case, and are hence able to support victims more effectively.
View Scott & Melissa’s presentation here
Multi-Agency Tasking and Coordination Northumbria
Starting the afternoon sessions, DCI Deboarah Alderson and Dr Pamela Davies presented on the Northumbria Multi-Agency Tasking and Coordination (MATAC) process. Much as The Duluth Model does, this process uses a variety of tactics in a bid to reduce harm and support victims.
Deborah began by talking delegates through how MATAC is set up, operated and supported by structured elements including: Identification of most harmful perpetrators through ‘Recency, Frequency, Gravity’ analysis; Domestic abuse toolkit; Voluntary domestic violence perpetrator programmes; and working with housing providers to focus on domestic abuse perpetrators. Through a mixed multi-agency approach Northumbria Police have achieved real success and early evaluation data has shown that
MATAC intervention has produced a 65% reduction in domestic abuse related reoffending and the social return for investment is £14.09 per £1 spent, which in an environment of austerity is staggering. Pamela Davies, who has been central to the evaluation of MATAC, highlighted some of the successes of the process attributing them to the integral partnership work. While challenging in its infancy, the development of collaborative approach to domestic abuse cases is central to shifting cultures and developing new procedures to ensure victim safety.
This presentation was a fantastic practical representation of how coordinated community response systems like The Duluth Model might translate to UK Force areas. Feedback given showed that delegates were pleased to have had the opportunity to see how this might work in their own force areas.
“Great to hear about innovative local practice, challenges and possible partnership opportunities” – (delegate)
View Deborah & Pamela’s presentation here
A challenging afternoon
The day continued with a series of group activities, firstly asking delegates to think about the key challenges they experience and the things they are proud of within their Force areas in relation to domestic abuse. This gave delegates a chance to discuss challenges and best practice activities across the N8 Police Forces and share existing knowledge with the following responses:
|· Multiple LA areas within same force area offering different services e.g. Perp programmes|
· Volume of incidents – is abuse rising or is reporting increasing?
· How to reduce repeat victimisation
· Mixed practices and political challenges, working with OPCC
· Form filling – are they fit for purpose?
· Managing data quality
· Agency Cutbacks
· Evidencing what works
· Effective responses – balancing what victims need vs response questions
|· Being able to have evidence led prosecutions (not requiring victim testimony)|
· Hard work/multi-agency working
· Trying different approaches, e.g. perp focus, Operation Encompass
· Data quality
· IDVA service and remand courts
· Perpetrator work, e.g. Strength to Change
Finally Scott Miller returned to close the day with a fascinating and engaging session which tasked delegates with applying different theories to a domestic abuse situation. After watching a video produced by the Duluth team each of the groups were asked to comment on the situation laid out in front of them through ‘the eyes’ of a particular theory. This session really helped to reinforce the idea that while one person’s theory or perspective might help to identify certain triggers or behaviours, it is really a shared understanding that is needed to allow for an appropriate response to domestic abuse.
The Annual knowledge Exchange Conference is intended to aid the moment of knowledge and expertise across professional boundaries do develop a cumulative knowledge capacity which can be used to improve police practice. This year’s conference was a huge success and thought provoking discussions on the day will help inform activities over the next year of work for the N8 PRP.
“This was a fantastic, stimulating event. Thank you” – (delegate)