A letter from Cafcass has been circulated today (5 January 2017) with a view to clarifying best practice arrangements where referral to a Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme (DVPP) is intended.
The letter, sent to Her Honour Judge Watson, the Designated Family Judge for Coventry and Warwickshire, addresses the difficulties faced when a DVPP to be delivered by a provider commissioned by Cafcass is included in a final order. The making of a final order closes the case for Cafcass and accordingly Cafcass is then unable to monitor the DVPP and report back to the court. It also leaves them at odds with the DVPP providers as Cafcass is required to stay involved while the programme is being carried out.
Cafcass is recommending that, in such circumstances, an Activity Direction should be made (rather than an Activity Condition) in relation to all DVPP referrals, with a clear order allowing Cafcass to remain involved in the case and to work with the court to ensure a safe outcome of the DVPP is factored into the long-term plan for the child. Without a case remaining open, Cafcass may receive mid-way reports from providers of DVPP but would not have the authority or a channel through which to inform the court about progress or any problems.
The letter proposes that the existing Activity Directions template is amended to read as follows:
(Name) must attend a Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programme including an initial assessment on dates to be provided by Cafcass and if deemed suitable on the dates confirmed by the provider.
Cafcass must by [ ] date refer [ ] (name) for a suitability assessment to attend a DVPP.
If [ ] (name) is assessed by the provider as suitable to attend the programme, Cafcass will prepare a report on [ ] (name)’s progress midway through the programme. Cafcass to file a copy of the report with the court and serve a copy of the report on both parties.
Cafcass to file an updated section 7 report [and risk assessment] in relation to the application for a CAO on completion of the programme. (Optional)
The matter to be listed for further directions at the completion of the programme on application by the parties or Cafcass. (Optional)
For further information see the letter