Helping victims in Scotland become safer, sooner

Jen Douglas is our Scottish Engagement Lead. In this blog she talks about why it is so important to have the tools to make an accurate and fast assessment of the danger victims of domestic abuse face, so they can get the right help as quickly as possible.

When someone is experiencing domestic abuse, it’s vital to make an accurate and fast assessment of the danger they’re in, so they can get the right help as quickly as possible. Our Scottish Dash checklist is a tried and tested way to understand risk and is based on extensive evidence taken from homicide reviews, ‘near misses’ and lower level incidents.

Dash stands for domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’-based violence. What this tool does is provide a common language between organisations so that we can all assess risk in a more joined up, coherent way. The Dash cannot replace vital professional judgement or the need for training. It is guidance only.

The simple series of questions makes it easy to work out the risk someone is facing, and what they might need to become safe and well. A high score means the victim is at high risk of serious harm or murder and needs urgent help. These victims should get help from an Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate (Idaa), and all the relevant local agencies should come together at a multi-agency risk assessment conference (Marac) to make a plan to make them safe and well.

We know from our Whole Lives dataset that it can take 4 years on average before victims of domestic abuse get the support they need to become safe and well. Any additional barriers, such as language, increase this time. At the point at which they accessed help, over half of victims said that the abuse was escalating in either in frequency, severity or both. Resources and evidence-based guidance like the Dash are essential in capturing the risk and reducing serious harm or fatality and have become embedded in the Scottish response to domestic abuse.

We believe every person living with domestic abuse needs to be supported to be safe, wherever they live, whoever they are. In order to do this, it is imperative that our risk checklist is accessible to as many survivors as possible and it is now available to Gaelic speakers and Gaelic speaking services. With approx. 57,000 speakers in Scotland this necessary tool will support in the management of risk and referral to local Marac provision.

In time for the introduction of the new Domestic Abuse Scotland (2018) Act we have updated and produced toolkits (including our Scottish Marac toolkit) to ensure that professionals are supported, and the scope of the new legislation is reflected within practice and our response to domestic abuse. It is only with a co-ordinated, systematic and evidenced approach that we will ensure the safety of survivors and their families; delivering the right support at the right time.

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Safer, Sooner Domestic Abuse Network

Information on the Safer, Sooner Domestic Abuse Network, a safe space to facilitate discussion and peer support for domestic abuse professionals from across Scotland.

Dash risk checklist for Scotland

This resource provides guidance and versions of the Dash risk checklist that have been adapted for use in Scotland, including English and Gaelic versions.