Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, and HM Inspectorate of Probation have published a report examining the multi-agency response to children living with domestic abuse, along with inspections of local area services
The findings in the report consider the extent to which, in the six local authorities inspected (see below), children’s social care, health professionals, the police and probation officers were effective in safeguarding children who live with domestic abuse. The report calls for a national public service initiative to raise awareness of domestic abuse and violence. It also calls for a greater focus on perpetrators and better strategies for the prevention of domestic abuse.
This report is about the second joint targeted area inspection programme, which began in September 2016 and which examined ‘the multi-agency response to children living with domestic abuse’. Joint targeted area inspections include a ‘deep dive’ investigation – an evaluation of children and young people’s experiences. This changes periodically to investigate different themes in detail. The theme for September 2016 to March 2017 was the response to children living with domestic abuse.
Professionals have made progress in dealing with the immediate challenges presented by the volume of cases of domestic abuse. However, domestic abuse is a widespread public health issue that needs a long-term strategy to reduce its prevalence.
Accepted practice in tackling social problems is to prevent, protect and repair. While much good work is being done to protect children and victims, far too little is being done to prevent domestic abuse and repair the damage that it does.
Work with families that we saw on inspection was often in reaction to individual crises. Agencies can be overwhelmed by the frequency of serious incidents, particularly higher risk ones. However, keeping children safe over time needs long-term solutions.
The focus on the immediate crisis leads agencies to consider only those people and children at immediate, visible risk. As a result, agencies are not always looking at the right things, and in particular, not focusing enough on the perpetrator of the abuse.
There is still a lack of clarity about how to navigate the complexities of information sharing. There needs to be greater consistency in the definition of harm, and in the understanding of whose rights to prioritise.
The six local authorities inspected are listed below, along with links to the individual reports: