SafeLives welcomes DASH review

29th April 2016

Today (29th April 2016) Amanda Robinson (Cardiff University) will publish a review of the domestic abuse risk assessment tool, DASH, on behalf of the College of Policing.

We welcome this review as a positive step, demonstrating the increased focus and importance the police place on making domestic abuse victims and their families safe. We're pleased that the review recognises that consistent, appropriate use of the DASH is vital in identifying and mitigating risk to a victim

SafeLives believes this will help both the police and other support agencies speak a common language and get more effective help for a victim and their children, faster.

The review recommends the tool includes fewer questions, allowing frontline police officers to use it more consistently when they are called to domestic abuse incidents. SafeLives recognises that the length of the tool may inhibit use of it in some situations when the police are called to fast-moving incidents, and therefore welcomes the focus on making it an easier tool to use every time a domestic abuse call is made. 

A revised version of the tool will also, in light of the new legislation, include more detail about coercive control – a key and consistent factor in abusive intimate relationships. SafeLives is encouraged to hear that the tool will reflect that domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour and a mind-set, and cannot be understand as a single violent/abusive incident.

We hope these changes will go some way to correctly assessing the risk of serious harm to the victim and their family, reduce the backlog the police are currently dealing with, and ensuring the right support is provided to families as early as possible. We are positive that the police are taking domestic abuse more seriously and looking ways to improve their response. 

We know that in order to make families safe, DASH must be used alongside other legislative powers and through the police working with multiple agencies, in particular specialist services.

To make families safe, the police must commit to regular and effective training in responding to domestic abuse. We recognise that professional judgement plays an important part, but this will be more consistent and well-judged if it is a product of quality training and the correct use of properly researched and evidenced methods like DASH.

We want to work closely with the police to align existing multi-agency tools to keep pathways to safety robust and responsive.

DASH has been a vital tool in helping frontline professionals understand and assess risk; it has gone some way to creating a more uniform and reliable response, reducing the postcode lottery for victims and their families.

SafeLives is dedicated to reducing the number of victims and ensuring intervention and support is as early and as effective as possible; we welcome frontline workers developing the tools available to them in order to make this ambition a reality.