Innovation Exchange

MARAC - Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference

Introduction

Key activities

Benefits and impacts

Learning

The Dundee Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) is designed to respond quickly and effectively to high-risk victims of domestic abuse. MARAC is delivered through multi-agency collaboration that is enhanced by the presence of a victim advocate. MARAC is entirely focused on the needs of victims, and works on the principle that, due to the complexity of domestic abuse, no one agency is able to respond to it on its own. MARAC is effective at reducing victimisation. It saves the lives of women, protects children from serious harm and supports victims to recover and lead safer lives.

Theme: Partnership and Collaboration

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MARAC was designed to protect individuals who are at risk of serious harm and death. Dundee has the highest level of recorded incidents of domestic abuse in Scotland and many families and children in the city are affected by it. MARAC ensures that the complete picture of victims' lives is considered in the process of putting together and implementing a safety plan. As well as preventing serious harm, MARAC stops the escalation of domestic abuse situations and supports victims to recover from domestic abuse.

MARAC started as a pilot and progressed to a fortnightly meeting discussing 8 individuals.   A MARAC co-ordinator was appointed and a multi-agency strategic steering group established.

The original MARAC pilot was evaluated in 2011 and service users' views and voices informed a substantial element of that evaluation. Victims were very positive about the support they received from MARAC, reporting that they felt safer and were more likely to make use of services. Referrals to MARAC include a professional judgement and this can be challenging. However, as joint working improved, the quality of the referral process improved too.

Agreement was reached on 'core' and 'non core' participating agencies, with 'non core' agencies attending meetings on a case-by-case basis. Core members include the Police; Multi-agency Independent Advocacy Service; Housing; Education; Social Work (including Child Protection & Criminal Justice); Women's Aid; and NHS Tayside. Non Core members include Tayside Substance Misuse Service; Women’s Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre; Victim Support; Barnardo's; Prison Service; Action For Children; and Dundee International Women's Centre.

 

The aims of MARAC include to:

  • share information to increase the safety, health and wellbeing of victims and their children;
  • determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk to
  • any particular individual (in addition to the victim) or to the general community;
  • jointly develop and implement a safety plan that provides
  • professional support to all those at risk and which reduces harm;
  • reduce repeat victimisation;
  • improve agency co-ordination and accountability;
  • improve support for staff involved in high risk domestic abuse cases.

 

All participating agencies sign up to an Information Sharing Protocol and to the MARAC Operating Protocol, which sets out the meetings' process. Victims are represented at MARAC meetings through an advocate - this provides an added element of service-users' engagement and feedback. Trained chairs ensure MARAC meetings remain focused and are not overly long

MARAC in Dundee has improved the safety, health and well being of victims of domestic abuse (the vast majority of them are women)  and children. During 2015, 142 individual victims of domestic abuse were discussed at MARAC meetings in Dundee and had safety plans developed.

 

The evaluation of the initial pilot of MARAC showed that there was a significant increase of information sharing, multi-agency commitment to the process, a victim-centred approach, improved working relationship between agencies and increased awareness of domestic abuse issues amongst a large number of staff. More recently, a multi agency referral route has also been established and this supports the extension of MARAC to include eight cases at every meeting. Nationally, figures from Safelives indicate that 60% of victims discussed at MARAC reported no further violence in their lives. Given the complexities, level of vulnerability and complex needs of many victims, these figures are very encouraging.  In addition, Safelives are estimating that the average high risk domestic abuse case costs £20,000 in public money (based on  Police time, GP's time and A&E attendance). This is estimated to amount to a national annual cost of £2.4 billion and more to  employers. The quick and efficient response facilitated by MARAC is estimated to reduce this cost - for every £1 spent on MARAC, £6 of public money is saved.

MARAC is a unique and highly effective example of multi agency working and co-operation. Prior to the introduction of MARAC in Dundee, individual agencies worked largely in isolation to support victims of domestic abuse. Although there was some informal processes of joint working, these were not systematic, formalised, co-ordinated or properly monitored. MARAC ensures that, as far as possible, a complete picture of the lives of victims is available to all the relevant agencies and that the safety plan that is being developed is focused entirely on the specific circumstances and needs of victims. MARAC also focuses on keeping children safe.  MARAC ensures that the non domestic abuse specialist agencies (including Housing, Education and Social Work) become involved and take responsibility to assess, address and respond to issues of domestic abuse. MARAC provides the opportunity for staff to learn from the work and experties of other agencies - facilitating greater joint working outside the MARAC process too. Finally, the MARAC system facilitates joint planning, joint

resource allocation and monitoring.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:

 

Vered Hopkins

Lead Officer, Violence Against Women Partnership

Dundee City Council

01382 434087

Case study added to site: June 2016

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