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