5th December 2022
Marac in Scotland 2005-2022
For the past 15 years Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Marac) have transformed the multi-agency response to domestic abuse across Scotland, providing a coordinated response to risk for domestic abuse victims. At the heart of Marac is the working assumption that no single agency or individual can see the complete picture of the life of a victim, but all may have insights that are crucial to their safety. By sharing relevant, risk-focused information in a safe environment, a coordinated multi-agency safety plan can be developed, increasing victim safety.
The first Scottish Maracs were set up in 2005, and as of August 2022 Marac is operating in all 32 Scottish local authorities, a major milestone for Marac development in Scotland. Whilst we know there are still discrepancies between how the evaluated model is applied in practice, including resourcing for Independent domestic abuse advocates (Idaas), Marac Chairs and Coordinators, it means a victim at high risk of harm can expect to receive a coordinated response to risk, no matter where they are in Scotland.
Attending Marac allowed me to see how important the sharing of information can be to enable discussions on how to reduce harm and [address risk]
Domestic Abuse Practitioner, Whole Lives Scotland, 2019
SafeLives have been supporting Scottish Maracs through the Marac Development Programme (MDP) since 2015 and have been working closely with local areas to embed the evaluated Marac model and develop a national framework to improve and enhance the multi-agency response to domestic abuse in Scotland. Although the first Maracs were set up 15+ years ago, the roll-out across Scotland has been largely organic, driven by committed individuals in local areas and with no centralised roll-out or funding for Marac Chairs, Coordinators and Idaas. As a result, although there is a wealth of experience and good practice across Scotland, there are also discrepancies in the application of the evaluated model and the operational support and strategic buy-in available for Marac.
In Equally Safe the Scottish Government committed to developing and building a national framework for Marac in Scotland, and the responses to the 2018/2019 consultation on multi-agency risk assessment arrangements for domestic abuse victims, indicated there is broad support for the Marac model in Scotland. However, access to consistent, sustainable funding for Idaas, Marac Coordinators and Chairs and national training for wider Marac professionals that recognises local diversity, are key to ensuring the sustainability of Scottish Maracs. In 2021 Scottish Government hosted a series of deep-dive events exploring the themes from the consultation in more detail and set up a National Advisory Group to oversee this work, including making recommendations for future developments for Marac in Scotland.
Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: "I am pleased that Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Maracs) are operating in every local authority in Scotland.
"Maracs enable different agencies to work together to support victim-survivors of domestic abuse. Together, these agencies can share their knowledge to create better plans that keep people safe.
"We're working with SafeLives and other key partners to produce a report on the success of Maracs so far, and how they can be more effective in the future."
[Marac creates an] opportunity to participate and communicate with multi-agency [partners] to ensure holistic assessment and support provisioned via an action plan.
Idaa service Manager, 2021
A robust multi-agency response is a crucial component of a risk-led response to domestic abuse, alongside early and effective identification (through use of common tools like Dash), and specialist domestic abuse support through Idaa (Independent Domestic Abuse Advocate) provision. Through our Delivering Equally Safe funded Safer, Sooner programme SafeLives are continuing to support increased consistency of Marac operation across Scotland, working closely with Marac and wider multi-agency professionals and stakeholders, by sharing and examining best practice, providing support, and highlighting the views and voices of survivors across Scotland. As one of the only dedicated multi-agency forums, Maracs play a crucial role in the domestic abuse response in Scotland and effective multi-agency working will improve the safety of Scotland's survivors, but organisations and structures need to be well supported with long-term, sustained resource. We must work together to ensure anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Scotland can access the right support, at the right time to make them safer, sooner.
Marac in Scotland - 16 Days event
Our 16 Days event on 7th December is an opportunity to reflect on the past 15+ years of Marac operation, including celebrating the hard work of everyone involved to get us to this point, and to consider what the next steps are for Marac development in Scotland as we await the publication of the Scottish Government Marac deep-dive learning report and action plan.