This page was last updated in January 2016
Young people enjoy healthy relationships
We are developing and rolling out, to all Essex schools and other settings, education and prevention programmes designed to break inter-generational cycles of abuse. This includes work already undertaken to co-design a module for the Risk Avert - Life Skills approach to Education and Prevention, piloted in two Essex schools and now being roll out to a further 40 schools.
The programme addresses a clear gap in provision – an effective early intervention programme focused on the development of, and increase in, the knowledge of what an age appropriate healthy relationship is. Whilst some other programmes exist, they do not take the Risk-Avert approach of working with the whole year group by delivering social norms activities, PSHE modules and targeted sessions to tackle these issues. In addition existing out of school delivery mechanisms are also being reviewed to explore and exploit opportunities for delivering healthy relationship messages.
This work, in collaboration with The Training Effect was shortlisted in two categories at the 2015 Local Government Chronicle Awards (Public Health and Innovative Service Delivery Model categories). The programme is also now being rolled out across schools across the UK and this has some income generating potential for the County Council
Victims and those at risk of experiencing domestic abuse feel and are safe
Since 2012, multi-agency teams have been established in Essex (covering the administrative area of Essex County Council), Southend and Thurrock. These take the form of JDATTs (Joint Domestic Abuse Triage Teams) in Southend and Essex and a MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) in Thurrock. Each of the approaches bring together professionals from different agencies in order to facilitate better information sharing and joined-up working in order to more effectively identify and address domestic abuse. Whilst the JDATT model is primarily focussed on better information sharing and joint decision making, the MASH model extends into coordinated intervention.
The JDATT ensures timely information exchange to allow cases to be triaged for Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) facilitating quicker and more effective safety planning – thereby providing an enabling service into a range of support service as part of a whole systems approach to addressing Domestic Abuse. The Essex JDATT staff co-located into a single location and commenced operating with a revised process from February 2015. By October 2015 1,640 high risk incidents had been triaged by the Essex JDATT. Once triaged these cases either went to a full community MARAC meeting for partners to discuss appropriate interventions or this was undertaken virtually/electronically. Prior to co-location and process improvements there would often be a backlog in MARAC (i.e. cases not discussed within six weeks). Eliminating these backlogs, and the associated unacceptable delay for the victim, has reduced the risk of further serious injury or death and likewise the cost to the public purse.
The current JDATT/MARAC process, whilst a step in the right direction, requires further improvement, a key improvement must be to hear MARAC cases even earlier so that once the current backlog is dealt with a new one is not created. A task and finish group is currently investigating a new MARAC model and simultaneously work is underway to develop a new Case Management System to improve the sharing of information between agencies and the linking together of disparate systems.
Jointly Commissioned IDVA service
Through a joint commissioning approach an Essex-wide Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) service was launched in April 2015. The number of IDVAs working in Essex has expanded significantly to a level of universal and consistent countywide provision (4.5 in 2012 to 24 by 2015), with the service now offered to all high risk victims, in line with SafeLives recommendations.
Following the launch of the new IDVA service, work will continue throughout the three year contract to monitor the effectiveness of the service, and explore opportunities for expansion and improvement. There will also be further opportunities to make closer links between this service and other commissioned services described throughout this paper.
Performance information for the first quarter of the IDVA services showed that the service had already achieved positive results on all 4 of the key targets for victim safety and wellbeing.
In addition the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex has launched the Essex Victims Gateway. The gateway provides information and advice on what to do and how to get help if you have been a victim of crime in Essex, Southend or Thurrock.
Victims are able to recover and move on to live independently
Community Based Service/Refuge
Activity already in delivery includes commissioning a new Community Based Service that, from October 2015, has shifted emphasis from refuge to keeping people safe in their own homes and supporting victims to regain their independence and resilience. The service still provides some refuge places, but only where risk and/or complexity is high with no safe alternative. Through this innovative approach a greater focus is being placed, instead, on support to keep victims (men/women and children) safe in their own homes and supporting them to regain their independence; commissioning flexible provision/support in the community; meeting welfare and development needs of children/young people; and building resilience.
The service shift is not to focus just on accommodation needs but also consider other needs such as education and employment. Effective linkages to both the IDVA service and JDATT/MARAC as part of a whole system response to the issue of domestic abuse will also be explored.
Partnership working with housing providers is also underway to improve housing services response to Domestic Abuse victims and perpetrators. The most notable initiatives include the development of a Countywide Reciprocal Agreement, with the sign up of providers across Essex already secured. This agreement will improve support to victims that need to be relocated – for example by protecting their security of tenure. Secondly, a Housing Database is being developed to log details of DA incidents housing providers are aware of and to provide early intervention services/support. The database will monitor activity amongst partners and provide a platform for predicting trends and utilising future resources more effectively. It will also link into the work of the multi-agency hubs (JDATT) by bringing a range of information from housing providers into one place to improve information sharing. Through this work housing providers have enhanced their role as ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground in the identification and response to domestic abuse.
Case finding and support in Health settings
We have developed a service specification and approved a business case to improve case finding and support within health settings – a victim may visit heath settings on numerous occasions before the situation is known to Police, where a disproportionate number of notifications to JDATT/MARAC currently arise, and by which stage suffering to the victim and costs to the health sector may have already been significant. The business case for this activity in health has been approved and to commissioning process has commenced. There will be a three pronged approach over a period of 2 years. The programme will pilot early identification and support in GP surgeries through the nationally evidenced based IRIS programme, plug gaps in existing provision to deliver county wide access to hospital based IDVAs, and provide a trained network of champions.
In terms of existing provision there are currently seven hospital based IDVAs in three of the County’s hospitals (three in Harlow and two each at Basildon and Colchester hospitals). New commissioning work will ensure IDVA provision in Southend and Broomfield hospitals, thereby ensuring that all five hospitals in Greater Essex have IDVA provision.
The health programme will also be underpinned by robust evaluation arrangements to inform future discussions about ensuring that, if successful, the work can be put on a sustainable future footing.
Perpetrators are prevented from causing physical and emotional harm
We are developing and piloting a range of perpetrator programmes in Criminal Justice and non-Criminal Justice Settings – Existing programmes are largely linked to criminal justice settings and are usually court mandated. Partners seek to broaden the perpetrator programmes available, two high profile examples of this already in development in Essex include:
- The Drive Project – having recently been selected as one of just three pilot areas nationally to work with SafeLives and social finance – this is a 1-2-1 caseworker model for high risk perpetrators currently not in the Criminal Justice System but identified through the JDATT (High Risk). The pilot will initially focus on the area of Colchester and Tendring and will work with 100 perpetrators a year. The desired outcome is to prevent/lessen repeat perpetration which can have significant detrimental effects on one or several victims.
- The Project Nova Domestic Abuse Pilot Project will be launched in Chelmsford, providing a Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Prevention service within custody to 20 perpetrators a year. The pilot service will aim to work with perpetrators following a domestic call out with no action, or where a perpetrator has been arrested but results in no further action. Its aims are to reduce reoccurrence of domestic abuse callouts for cases where No Further Action has been assigned; Increase the safety of partners and children living with domestic abuse; Enable perpetrators to recognise they have been abusive and change their behaviour.
Other areas of development to manage the perpetrator include through Operation SHIELD and the roll-out of Domestic Violence Protection Notices. However both of these are more operational policing approaches and neither focuses on identifying unmet need and developing an integrated service offer that addresses the root causes of offending.
Partners in Essex also undertaking and learning from the findings of Domestic Homicide Reviews.
Communities have a greater awareness of what an abusive relationship is and how to report it and as a consequence feel safer
Partners will continue to run co-ordinated multi-agency communication campaigns to support delivery of strategy outcomes - working collectively to build on previous successful (and nationally award winning) campaigns (e.g. Tweet your feet and ‘Standing Together’) to collectively design and run a series of domestic abuse campaigns throughout the delivery of the strategy – encouraging victims to come forward and report/seek help for domestic abuse.
As part of this outcome we also recognise that there are a large number of people employed by the various partner organisations signed up to the new strategy who could be either victims or perpetrators of abuse. These organisations will look at their own employer pledges and policies surrounding domestic abuse (victim and perpetrator focused) and will share learning and best practice.
The Strategy will ensure that professionals across Essex who encounter victims or perpetrators of domestic abuse have the relevant knowledge and training to make appropriate referrals – Significant training activity is already undertaken by two Domestic Abuse Co-ordinators sitting within the Public Service Reform Unit and through other specialist training resources (e.g. Training Co-ordinator appointed as part of the DA health work and the training of IDVA’s as part of the IDVA service (using external providers/specialists)). Our future focus will ensure greater strategic oversight is placed on our approach to domestic abuse training and that a broad range of professionals are able to identify the domestic abuse and refer into the appropriate support services.