Marac in Scotland

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.

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 Marac were set up in 2005, and now 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

Marac has been a commitment in Scotland’s Equally Safe strategy since the first publication in 2014. 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 Marac.

Consistency in Marac provision across Scotland ensures the response is the same for all high-risk victims, no matter who they are or where they live. Working alongside a Marac Advisory Group, the Scottish Government is seeking to develop an evidence base to shape the future development of national standards for Marac in Scotland. The first step in building an evidence base is to understand the current operation of Marac across Scotland.

SafeLives has supported Scottish Marac through the Marac Development Programme since 2015, enabling local areas to embed the evaluated Marac model and develop a national framework to improve and enhance multi-agency response to domestic abuse in Scotland. Through this work we have developed good working relationships with Marac across the country.

SafeLives is now working in partnership with the Scottish Government to provide an up-to-date picture of Marac provision across Scotland. We will take a broad look at how each Marac in Scotland operates, with particular focus on the 10 Principles of an Effective Marac. We will also illustrate the benefits and impact of a consistent and well-functioning Marac model for Scotland by capturing and showcasing excellent practice and outcomes from across the country.

To deliver the Marac in Scotland project we will deliver a large-scale mapping and scoping exercise. To do this we will conduct a survey and follow-on discussions with all 35 operating Marac. We will also carry out interviews with relevant stakeholders.

All the data that we collect will be shared in a written report that we will produce to share our findings with the Scottish Government and other relevant stakeholders, that will inform further development plans for Scottish Marac.

The delivery of this project will be governed by the Marac in Scotland Working Group. This working group consists of stakeholders from the public sector and third sector and includes an Authentic Voice panel member.

Our Marac in Scotland team are working in partnership with the Scottish Government to provide an up-to-date picture of Marac provision in Scotland.

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 tools like Dash), and specialist domestic abuse support through Idaa provision. Through our 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.

[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

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