SafeLives welcomes report on need to better protect and support children living with domestic abuse

19th September 2017

SafeLives warmly welcomes the publication of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) report into children living with domestic abuse. It is clear from the report that progress has been made, but there is still much more to do. We need agencies to be brave, work together, and take the next step forward.

We are pleased that the report recognises an urgent need to focus on the root cause of the problem: the perpetrator. Children and non-abusive parents are at risk because of the actions of the perpetrator: but agencies are still relying on victims of abuse to manage that risk and protect children. The report rightly points out that agencies should be holding perpetrators to account, asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ rather than ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’ Just under 71% of the highest risk perpetrators of domestic abuse are deemed to be a risk to their children compared to an average of just 0.004% in the population generally. Statutory agencies collectively hold significant powers and should be working together to change perpetrator behaviour so children are safe and well, now and in the future.

The report highlights other gaps.

The police are not consistently speaking to children on the scene of incidents to assess their behaviour and wellbeing, and then sharing this information. This is despite the fact that we know 26% of children directly intervene to try and stop the abuse.

Although nearly half a million victims of abuse had to use A&E services last year as a result of their experiences, medical and other professionals are still, in too many instances, misinterpreting the rules about when they can and should share information. They are keeping back information which, if it was shared in a timely way with other agencies, could prevent harm and even save lives. Domestic abuse is not an isolated incident, it is a pattern of ongoing behaviour which presents risk to child and adult safety and wellbeing. Professionals in health, education and the criminal justice system need to rouse their professional curiosity and make the right links to identify this and take action.

We welcome the recommendation that to effectively prevent domestic abuse we must look at a whole picture of abuse and vulnerability, as experienced by parent and child(ren).

It is encouraging to see that most of the six local authority areas inspected by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation had strong partnerships in place and the commitment to keep investing in meaningful joint work. We hope that all of the agencies involved will take the next step that the JTAI identifies is required, seeing the whole family and what they need, and ending domestic abuse by challenging perpetrators to change.

Notes to editors

About the JTAI report

The programme of joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs) brings together inspectorates Ofsted, Care Quality Commission, HMI Constabulary and HMI Probation to ‘examine how well agencies are working together in a local area to help and protect children’.

This report is about the second JTAI programme, which began in August 2016, and examined ‘the multi-agency response to children living with domestic abuse’. The findings in the report consider the extent to which, in the six local authorities inspected, children’s social care, health professionals, the police and probation officers were effective in safeguarding children who live with domestic abuse. The six local areas inspected were Bradford, Hampshire, Hounslow, Lincolnshire, Salford and Wiltshire.

About SafeLives

We are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives.

Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. Since 2016 we have also been working with partners Respect and Social Finance to pilot a dedicated response to the highest risk perpetrators of domestic abuse.

For interviews or more information, please contact Penny East, Head of Communications at SafeLives, on 07818 593 562 or by emailing penny.east@safelives.org.uk