SafeLives' response to The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel's briefing paper into child safeguarding and domestic abuse

We strongly support the CSPR panel’s proposed four core practice principles that should underpin work with children and their families in relation to domestic abuse: Domestic abuse informed, Intersectional, Whole family & Trauma informed.

The panel highlights known but concerning findings. Despite domestic abuse being a feature of 40% of serious incidents notified to the Panel, there remains a lack of understanding of domestic abuse and a lack of effective multi-agency working, which draws on specialist domestic abuse services. This should be routine in cases where domestic abuse is a factor.

The law states that children are victims in their own right but many statutory agencies have yet to implement changes to reflect this as they wait on further information. The review finds ‘children as victims’ is bringing uncertainty on a legal level but also a cultural one, so effective guidance must be published swiftly so all child victims are held by appropriate interventions and support.

The review’s findings also make clear that professionals working within all aspects of child safeguarding must be upskilled to understand the complex dynamics of domestic abuse and domestic abuse safety planning. Children’s Social Care workers tell us that they aren’t confident working with perpetrators of domestic abuse and so focus their interventions on the non-abusive parent. Increased understanding can go some way to ensuring perpetrators, rather than the adult victims, are held to account for harm caused to child victims by domestic abuse.

Training via SafeLives’ cultural change programme for children’s social care workers was piloted in 2020 and found that post training, 92% of respondents felt they had a very or extremely good understanding of the tactics perpetrators of domestic abuse use to control their victim(s) compared to only 40% before. Rolling this out nationally can help hold the perpetrator to account while protecting adult and child victims.

In order to fully protect and support children and their families, funding for community-based services must be comprehensive and statutory.  This especially includes funding for by-and-for services for marginalised groups and Idvas who are able to coordinate greater multi-agency working. This duty must be seen through in the upcoming Victims Bill.

Read the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s briefing paper into child safeguarding and domestic abuse.

You may also be interested in

Woman looking out over balcony

Children and young people

Find out more about Safe Young Lives our programme of work across the UK to reduce the risk experienced by young people and to improve the care pathways they can access.