To keep victims safe, we need good proactive partnership working, particularly in the multiagency risk assessment (MARAC) process
By Lynsey Eglington, Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Chair
My name is Lynsey Eglington and I am the MARAC Chair, having been appointed in May this year.
To use an old quote: "I've got a woman's ability to stick to a job, and get on with it when everyone walks off and leaves it." This quote represents my determination to facilitate an effective MARAC that makes sure that victims at serious risk of harm or death get the best help they need.
I genuinely believe domestic abuse is everyone's business and that we can only succeed in tackling it through a multi-agency approach to challenge and change attitudes.
I am very much part of the driving force in supporting and ensuring MARAC assists in breaking the seal on domestic abuse. We need to openly encourage people to feel that they can come forward and not be judged. We need to give back control to victims of domestic abuse, ensuring that they feel empowered, supported and protected.
Society, communities and professionals need to take a stance on domestic abuse. Why? Because domestic abuse is wrong, it causes great harm and it cannot be tolerated.
This is something at the very heart of Cleveland MARAC, which is currently undergoing a huge transformation to ensure that, collectively, we get it right. MARAC needs to encourage stakeholder agencies to think 'outside of the box' when safeguarding the most vulnerable, and holding perpetrators accountable, and that MARAC decisions can withstand scrutiny at a later date.
It is exciting times for Cleveland MARAC. Changes should be welcomed and embraced.
The most dangerous phrase I've heard, however, is "we've always done it this way". Clearly, with high repeat rates of domestic abuse, that is an approach that is not working.
The response should be proactive and unique to the victim and their needs. Instead of highlighting the victim's vulnerabilities or coping mechanisms as hurdles or obstacles to helping them, we should be flipping out expectations on their heads, placing the fault with the perpetrator, and not the victim. Their coping mechanisms, often the subject of criticism, are the result of what the perpetrator has subjected them to.
I'm ambitious for Cleveland to have an excellent MARAC and safeguard victims better so they don't suffer repeat incidents of domestic abuse. In order to achieve this tall order, Cleveland MARAC needs to ensure that participating agencies - social workers, police, health services, substance misuse services, IDVAs - are working together.
The collaborative approach needs to be well-balanced and agencies supported and tested accordingly. All of us should be able to answer hard questions, including from each other, about our safeguarding actions and whether they are enough to help victims. I label this as 'professional debating' and actively encourage this in the MARACs I chair, and the agencies that attend welcome this too.
This is how the collective 'we' then delivers an excellent service in safeguarding the most vulnerable and holding perpetrators accountable.
Posted on Tuesday 4th December 2018