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Operating Protocol and Guidelines

 Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of Domestic Abuse
  3. Purposes of a MARAC
  4. MARAC Structure and Responsibilities
  5. MARAC Process
  6. Repeat Referrals
  7. MARAC to MARAC Referrals
  8. Child Sex Exploitation - MARAC Protocol
  9. Employee Cases at MARAC
  10. Allegations Management
  11. Honour Based Violence Cases
  12. Child to Parent Abuse & Children Under 16 Years
  13. Domestic Homicide Review
  14. Evaluation and Performance Management
  15. Complaints
  16. Document Retention
  17. Equality
  18. Document Review
  19. Breach of the MARAC Protocol
 

 

Date: 19 July 2017

Expires: When rescinded or replaced

 

Please forward any queries to:
Lisa Horder, Domestic Abuse Champion,
HQ Westfalen Garrison, Normandy Barracks,
BFPO 16

 

Foreword

Disobedience to any of these orders is an offence contrary to the Armed Forces Act 2006. Persons committing such offences may face disciplinary and/or administrative action.

 

1.Introduction

1.This Standing Instruction is sponsored by the HQ BFG Domestic Abuse Champion (DAC). It is to be read in conjunction with the BFG MARAC Information Sharing Agreement. The main purpose of the Instruction is to provide agencies and the Command with a consistent framework upon which to:

  1. Conduct a MARAC for cases involving high-risk domestic abuse victims.

  2. Share information.

2.MARAC’s are recognised in the UK as best practice for addressing cases of domestic abuse that have been assessed as high risk.

3.A MARAC provides a consistent approach to risk assessment which identifies those victims who are at most risk of serious harm. Once a victim has been assessed at this level of risk, a multi agency meeting is held and agencies will work together to find a way of reducing and/or managing that risk using available interventions.

4.The role of the MARAC is to facilitate, monitor and evaluate effective information sharing, to enable appropriate actions to be taken to increase public safety and to jointly construct a risk management plan.

5.Procedures set out in this document provide guidance to all staff and agencies within British Forces Germany (BFG), who are dealing with domestic abuse, by outlining the MARAC process, the risk assessment model used, the interventions required and the individual roles and responsibilities throughout the process.

6.The MARAC is designed to work in conjunction with other existing agencies and procedures. It is NOT intended to replace them.

7.BFG will adopt the SafeLives guidance in relation to MARAC operating procedures as far as possible, in order to ensure consistency and compliance to UK best practice. The unique environment of BFG will, however, require some variation from UK practices in order to be compliant with extant Tri-Service and Army policies as well as local procedures.

8.The MARAC process ensures a timely risk assessment of the circumstances affecting a victim of domestic abuse. It ensures that those individuals believed to be at high risk of serious harm or death are linked directly with appropriate services, providing a coordinated, multi-agency response to high risk domestic abuse cases, in a single meeting.

9.The aim of this document is to ensure that:

  1. All staff working within relevant agencies in BFG, who come into contact with victims of domestic abuse, have sufficient understanding of what is required of them at a MARAC meeting, to ensure the safety of that person and others who may be at risk.

  2. Members of the community who are victims of domestic abuse have the trust and confidence to seek help, by having consistent responses to risk assessment and intervention, including referral to MARAC.

  3. Agencies within BFG provide an effective and consistent response to reports of domestic abuse to safeguard victims and children.

  4. Agencies work in partnership in appropriately identifying and assessing victims of domestic abuse, to ensure that they are afforded all available interventions that each agency and ultimately MARAC can provide.

 

2.Definition of Domestic Abuse

1.BFG has adopted the Home Office definition of domestic abuse, which is:

‘Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial, and emotional.’

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called 'honour’ based violence; female genital mutilation (FGM), and forced marriage. It is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

2.Controlling Behaviour. This is defined as:

‘A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.’

3.Coercive Behaviour. This is defined as:

‘An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim’.

 

3.Purposes of a MARAC

1.The purpose of a MARAC is:

    1. To reduce the risk of serious harm or homicide for a victim.

    2. To share information to increase the safety, health and well-being and to reduce repeat victimisation of survivors of domestic abuse and their children.

    3. To determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk of serious harm to the victim and dependents and/or staff.

    4. To construct jointly and implement a risk management plan providing professional support to all those identified as at risk and reduce and/or manage the risk of harm.

    5. To reduce repeat victimisation.

    6. To improve agency accountability.

    7. To improve support for staff involved in high risk domestic abuse cases.

    8. Provide an audit trail.

2.Within the context of domestic abuse it is recognised that no one organisation holds all the information required to effectively assess the needs of victims and their children , or to fully assess the risk of serious harm or murder to victims. All agencies have a duty to victims of domestic abuse to work together to provide a coherent package of support that the victim can understand.

3.By sharing information on the highest risk victims within the MARAC context, agencies will ensure their statutory duties are upheld and there will be transparency around the information available and decisions made by organisations in the event of any subsequent review.

 

4.MARAC Structure and Responsibilities

1.The BFG MARAC will be a bespoke event, convened in response to the identification of a case of high risk of harm in BFG. It will also convene in response to medium risk of harm cases where consent is obtained from the victim.

2.Neither the victim nor the perpetrator will attend the MARAC meeting.

 

Key Points of Contact

3.There are two key points of contact for the MARAC:

  1. MARAC Chair. The MARAC Chair is Lisa Horder, Domestic Abuse Champion, HQ BFG, Building 213, Antwerp Barracks, BFPO 16. The DAC is the subject matter expert (SME) on the MARAC process and the point of contact for any training requirements on the MARAC.
(1) Tel: 0049 1738 873 070.
(2) Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

  1. MARAC Coordinator. The MARAC Coordinator is the first point of contact for any enquiry about the MARAC process. HQ BFG, Building 213, Antwerp Barracks, BFPO 16.
(1) Tel: 0049 (0)525 4982 5408 (Military: 94879 5480).
(2) Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Responsibilities

4.General. It is essential to the MARAC process to have involvement from a wide range of organisations that are involved in supporting victims of domestic abuse. It is helpful if there is consistency in the nominated representatives from different agencies.

5.SPOC. Each organisation will appoint a single point of contact (SPOC) to represent their agency at the MARAC on a permanent basis. This must be an officer or a manager in a position of authority. The SPOC will be expected to gather and present information from colleagues and also to commit to specific actions and resources, without having to seek further authorisation.

6.Core Agencies. The BFG MARAC will require the participation of the following core agencies at every meeting:

  1. Service Police.

  2. British Forces Social Work Service (BFSWS).

  3. Army Welfare Service (AWS).

  4. SSAFA / GSTT LLP (Medical Services).

  5. Victim Safety Worker (VSW).

  6. Unit Single Point of Contact (USPOC).

  7. Unit Welfare Officer (UWO).

  8. Probation Service

7.Additional Agencies. The BFG MARAC may also require the participation of the following agencies at each meeting, dependent on the circumstances of the case:

  1. MOD Schools

  2. Victim Support.

  3. DIO Housing Support Officer.

  4. Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU).

  5. Homestart.

  6. German Civil Police.

8.Information Sharing Agreement (ISA). Each attending agency will be required to sign the ISA before attending the MARAC. A copy of the ISA can be found at Annex A.

 

Agency Responsibility

9.The responsibility to take the appropriate actions decided at the MARAC rests with individual agencies; it is not transferred to the MARAC.

10.The responsibility for advice and coordination of the MARAC policy rests within each agency’s own governance and accountability structures. Each agency signed up to the MARAC Operating Protocol must:

  1. Appoint a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) who will be an officer or manager of sufficient standing, with the authority to make decisions and commit resources.

  2. Ensure that when a MARAC referral is made by the SPOC, that a referral for VSW is made at the same time to BFSWS.

  3. Ensure that the nominated representatives attending the MARAC have the authority to commit to actions at the meeting.

  4. Ensure that when a referral has been made to MARAC, that the SPOC from that agency attends to present the case. In the event of the SPOC being absent for business reasons, their deputy must attend in lieu.

  5. Ensure that where a new representative to attend the MARAC is appointed, that there is an appropriate induction and that they have had domestic abuse and DASH (the risk assessment tool used as part of managing the risk of victims of domestic abuse) training. The basic training for Domestic Abuse and the DASH process may be through training provided by the BFG Safeguarding Board.

  6. Ensure that the MARAC SafeLives DASH Risk Assessment process is embedded within their agency, and that staff receive appropriate training. This is available through the BFG Safeguarding Board.

  7. Ensure that all victims and potential victims are identified, and that all immediate reasonable steps that are required to ensure their safety have been taken and are documented. This would include if a child protection referral has been made.

  8. Ensure that any victims who do not meet the MARAC criteria are given details of other support services and 24 hour contact numbers.

  9. Ensure that they share information relating to cases identified as high risk in accordance with the BFG Information Sharing Agreement and in accordance with legislation.

  10. Ensure that MARAC cases are safely flagged and tagged by all agencies on their individual systems.

  11. Ensure that repeats that meet the repeat criteria are brought back to the MARAC.

  12. Ensure that all actions are completed by representatives within the specified timeframe.

11.Disclosure. The SPOC must decide on a case by case basis, why a disclosure is necessary to support action under the Data Protection Act 1998, Human Rights Act 1998 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. They will also decide why and when the public interest overrides the presumption of confidentiality. When making these decisions they will consider the following points in relation to the information:

  1. Obtained, processed and disclosed fairly and lawfully.

  2. Kept securely.

  3. Processed in accordance with the rights of the data subjects.

  4. Accurate, relevant and held no longer than necessary.

  5. Disclosed only for a specified related purpose.

  6. Disclosed without the subject’s knowledge and/or agreement only where failure to do so would prejudice the objective.

12.At the MARAC, each agency will share information that is pertinent to the individual case. Information shared shall be current, proportionate and relevant to the case and situation.

13.For further guidance on Information Sharing please refer to the BFG Information Sharing Agreement at Annex A.

 

MARAC Representative Responsibility

14.The identification and subsequent completion of the MARAC Referral Form (at Annex B) rests with the individual member of staff and the Department to which they are responsible. The MARAC representative must:

  1. Ensure that the information provided by their agency is complete, relevant, concise, and complies with the Data Protection Act 1998.

  2. Collate appropriate information about victim, perpetrator and/or children from their agency’s records, ready to share at the meeting.

  3. Make a referral to BFSWS for Victim Safety Worker support.

  4. Ensure that they prioritise the MARAC event in their diary and comply with the invitation deadline set in the Calling Notice.

  5. Use the data disclosed only for the specified purpose.

  6. Volunteer appropriate actions at the MARAC.

  7. Fully record information as appropriate and in line with agency procedures.

  8. Complete actions within the agreed timescales.

15.Once actions have been agreed at the MARAC, it is the responsibility of the agency to complete those actions. It is not the responsibility of the MARAC Coordinator to chase those agencies to find out whether those actions have been completed.

 

MARAC Coordinator Responsibilities

16.The BFG MARAC has a dedicated MARAC Coordinator whose responsibilities are to administer, facilitate and coordinate the MARAC. The MARAC coordinator works closely with MARAC representatives to ensure that all parties are aware of the MARAC process, and what their roles and responsibilities are with regards to their involvement with MARAC. The MARAC Coordinator is the first point of enquiry for agencies.

17.On receipt of the completed MARAC Referral Form and DASH Risk Assessment, the Coordinator will:

  1. Set a place, date and time for the MARAC to be held; no more than 15 working days after receipt of referral.

  2. Invite all core agency representatives and any other agency relevant to the case.

  3. Attend and accurately record the minutes of the cases discussed at the MARAC, ensuring that any information shared at the meeting is in line with the BFG MARAC Information Sharing Agreement.

  4. Distribute the minutes and action plan within 7 working days of the MARAC meeting.

18.The Coordinator will provide and distribute the following documents at each MARAC meeting:

  1. Confidentiality Declaration Signing in Sheet (the confidentiality statement must be read out at each meeting).

  2. Case Summary.

19.The Coordinator will also provide the following services:

  1. A secure email address and fax system for agencies to send in their referrals.

  2. Keep a secure MARAC Database up to date, ensuring that all action plans agreed at the MARAC are completed within the time agreed at the meeting, referring any discrepancies to the MARAC Chair.

  3. Maintain a tracking system of MARAC cases and email MARAC representatives to alert agencies to closed cases (cases that are 12 months old with no repeat referrals to MARAC). This is to enable agencies to remove flags or tags on victims, perpetrators, properties etc.

  4. Conduct analysis and evaluation of MARAC data and provide quarterly updates to the Domestic Abuse Champion, Domestic Abuse Forum and the Safeguarding Board.

  5. Provide quarterly MARAC data to SafeLives.

 

The Role of the MARAC Chair

20.The Chair must have undertaken SafeLives MARAC Chair training.

21.It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that all MARAC representatives understand precisely what is required of their organisation. The role of the chair is to structure the meeting and prioritise cases in such a way that those attending are able to use the time available as effectively as possible.

22.The Chair will ensure that all MARAC meetings are professional, appropriate and confidential

23.The Chair will ensure that all information shared at the meeting is relevant and in accordance with the BFG Information Sharing Agreement.

24.The Chair will ask the MARAC Co-ordinator to confirm the required agency actions after each new case, confirming that the correct actions have been recorded by both the Co-ordinator and the agency representatives.

 

Victim Safety Worker (VSW) Responsibilities

25.The VSW is provided by BFSWS. A referral for VSW MUST be made by the agency that is referring the case to MARAC at the same time that the MARAC referral is made (to make a referral for a VSW telephone the Central Referral Team (CRT) on 0049 (0)800 724 3176).

26.The victim must be at the centre of the MARAC. It is good practice to have the views of the client heard at the MARAC meeting. Where there is consent to share, the VSW will safely contact the client prior to the MARAC meeting, to ensure that their views are represented. The VSW will represent the victim at the MARAC either by speaking on their behalf or by reading a written statement. Following initial contact with the client and prior to the MARAC, the VSW will ensure that immediate safety measures are put in place by liaison with other partnership agencies as necessary, and will be in a position to update the MARAC of the current position.

27.When the victim in a MARAC case is a German National, the VSW service may be provided by the Joint Response Team (JRT) SIB.

 

5.MARAC Process

1.Step 1 - Identify. An agency identifies a victim of domestic abuse.

2.Step 2 - Risk Assess.

  1. Once identified as experiencing domestic abuse, the BFG DASH Risk Identification Checklist should be used to establish the level of risk to the victim. The risk assessment must be completed WITH the victim.

  2. The threshold criteria for a referral to the BFG MARAC include three elements. If the victim meets the threshold for MARAC by any of the following criteria, then referral must be made to MARAC, and also to BFSWS for the VSW Service:

    1. Visible High Risk. 14 or more 'yes' boxes have been ticked on the DASH form.

    2. Escalation. 3 incidents of domestic abuse in the last 12 months.

    3. Professional Judgement. The DASH score is low, however, the member of staff has serious concerns.

  3. Carry out immediate safety measures for the victim, children and perpetrator.

3.Step 3 - Referral.

  1. Whichever agency identified the case must complete the MARAC Referral form. They must attach a copy of the completed DASH form, and send both forms to the MARAC Coordinator (email address and telephone number at paragraph 18.b (2) above) within 24 hours of the forms being completed. A referral must also be made to BFSWS for VSW at the same time of the MARAC referral.

  2. The VSW (via BFSWS) contacts the victim to offer support and identify key risks and concerns.

4.Step 4 - Research. All core agencies are notified of the referral and the date of the MARAC meeting. SPOCs conduct research from within their organisation, contacting relevant colleagues for information where necessary.

5.Step 5 - Meeting and Information Sharing. Referring agency SPOC presents the case at the MARAC meeting. All MARAC representatives share relevant information about the case. Risks are identified, which affect the victim, children, perpetrator, and others such as public and agency workers.

6.Step 6 - Action Planning.

  1. MARAC representatives volunteer actions, to be completed by a specific date, on behalf of their agencies, to increase the safety of the victim.

  2. Where appropriate, the VSW confirms that, in their opinion, the proposed actions are as safe as possible.

  3. Co-ordinator confirms action required.

  4. Chair confirms that the actions are understood.

7.Step 7 - Follow Up.

  1. MARAC representative informs their colleagues of the required actions.

  2. Agencies complete all actions in the time agreed at the MARAC and must:

    • Immediately notify the MARAC Coordinator by email that the action has been completed. Representatives are to use the following email address:

    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  3. The VSW keeps the victim informed about the action plan and liaises with other agencies where necessary.

 

Risk Identification and Assessment – DASH

8.In order for the MARAC process to work effectively, there needs to be a common understanding of risk and the risk assessment process. A specific, single instrument to assess risk in domestic abuse is used. In BFG all agencies must use the SafeLives – DASH Risk Identification and Assessment. The primary purpose of this assessment is to identify the level of risk to victims and to be able to offer appropriate support, in the form of a MARAC for the most serious high risk cases. Training for use of the DASH is available through the BFG Safeguarding Board.

9.A referral to MARAC only takes place where a case is identified as being High Risk or in Medium Risk cases where consent is given by the victim.

10.Practitioners must be aware that a risk identification checklist is neither a full risk assessment, nor a case management form. It is a practical tool that can help you to identify which of your clients should be referred to MARAC. Risk is dynamic and practitioners need to be alert to the fact that risk can change very suddenly. The presence of children increases the wider risks of domestic abuse. However, this risk assessment is NOT a risk assessment for children. If risk towards children is highlighted, you should immediately inform BFSWS, as well as continuing with the MARAC process.

 

Referring Cases to the BFG MARAC

11.A referral to MARAC only takes place where a case is identified as being High Risk of serious harm (see definition below). Cases can be referred to a MARAC by any agency signed up to this Protocol. Anyone employed in BFG who receives a disclosure of domestic abuse must undertake an initial assessment using the DASH with the victim.

12.High Risk. This is defined as follows: ‘There are identifiable indicators of risk of SERIOUS harm. The potential event COULD happen at ANY TIME and the impact would be SERIOUS.'

13.Serious Harm. This is defined as follows: ‘Harm which is life threatening or traumatic and from which recovery, whether physical or psychological, can be expected to be difficult or impossible.

14.If the Risk Assessment identifies the victim as being at High Risk of harm, then a referral must be made immediately to:

  1. The MARAC Co-ordinator, for a MARAC meeting to be held.

  2. BFSWS, for a VSW to be appointed (if the victim is a German National, please discuss this referral with the MARAC Co-ordinator as JRT may provide this service)

15.If a case is not currently assessed as high risk, the victim may still be referred to CRT for the VSW, and for the MARAC service; but only with the victim’s consent.

16.Agencies should aim to undertake a DASH Risk Assessment WITH the victim, within 24 hours of the disclosure/incident. If a referral is to be made, it must be done immediately.

17.The referring agency is expected to attend the MARAC and present the case. Consideration must be given to any children and / or vulnerable adults within the household, and appropriate procedures and protocols must be followed.

 

Consent for Information Sharing

18.All the information shared at MARAC is subject to the agreements set out in the BFG MARAC Information Sharing Agreement, and the Confidentiality Statement read out at the start of each meeting. The Information Sharing Agreement must be signed by all agencies at the meeting.

19.It is considered best practice to obtain consent from victims prior to their case being discussed at MARAC, but it is not obligatory in high-risk cases and it may not always be safe to do so. The information sharing without consent guidance should be followed where this situation occurs.

20.Basic Principles.

  1. Sensitive and restricted information is circulated through secure means (i.e. secure email).

  2. Sensitive and restricted information must be stored securely (i.e. locked filing cabinet or database which is only accessible to relevant parties).

  3. The referring agency MUST where appropriate and safe to do so, discuss their concerns with the victim and seek to obtain their engagement, and consent to share information with other agencies represented on the MARAC. It is good practice to ensure that the service user fully understands the process.

  4. The referring agency should, wherever possible, keep a signed statement by the victim to say that they have understood the MARAC process, the role of the VSW, and that information will be shared between agencies represented at the MARAC.

  5. In cases where it may not be possible to contact the service user, e.g. for safety reasons, or when the victim has refused to give consent for a MARAC referral, the procedure outlined below for ‘information sharing without consent’ should be followed.

21.Review. The Information Sharing Agreement will be reviewed annually by the Domestic Abuse Champion or sooner in the emergence of best practice.

 

Information Sharing Without Consent

22.It is acknowledged that it may be necessary to release information without consent when one of the lawful grounds for exchanging information are applicable, and it is believed to be in the public interest.

23.The risk assessment (DASH) should be considered in all cases where the victim has not consented to information being shared, in deciding whether the threshold for disclosing information without consent has been met. The referring agency should where appropriate, discuss their concerns with the victim and seek to obtain their consent to share information. If consent is still refused, the agency must then consider whether the circumstances justify sharing information without consent. If the decision to override consent is taken, then the referring agency must record that a decision has been made to share/disclose information without consent on the MARAC Referral Form.

24.If the requirements for information sharing cannot be met, then the case cannot be referred to MARAC and the agency concerned is limited to providing intervention from its own resources.

25.If the MARAC representative requires guidance on this issue, the advice of their legal department should be sought, and the chair of the MARAC may be consulted. The decision whether to exercise discretion, however, will always rest with the agency.

 

Agenda and Research Prior to the MARAC

26.The MARAC Co-ordinator will convene the meeting no later than 15 working days after receipt of referral of a high risk case and notify the required attendees.

27.SPOCs will be expected to prioritise MARAC cases and conduct thorough research prior to attendance. A MARAC research form is available at Annex D of this document to assist agencies to share information in a consistent and time-efficient way. A completed typed copy of the research form is to be brought to the MARAC and will be retained by the Coordinator after the meeting. Relevant and proportionate information will be shared verbally at the meeting.

28.Consideration should be given to certain actions being carried out by an agency prior to a MARAC. Immediate safety issues should always be addressed by the referring agency and appropriate onward referrals made as necessary. These should not be held back until the MARAC meets.

 

Confidentiality

29.Information sharing at the MARAC is strictly limited to the aims of the meeting.

30.At the beginning of the MARAC, the Co-ordinator will read out the following confidentiality statement:

‘Information discussed by the agency representatives within this meeting is strictly confidential, and must not be disclosed to third parties who have not signed up to the MARAC Information Sharing Agreement, without the agreement of the partners of this meeting. It should focus on domestic abuse and child protection concerns and a clear distinction should be made between fact and professional opinion.

All agencies should ensure that all minutes and related documentation are retained in a confidential and appropriately restricted manner. These minutes will aim to reflect that all individuals who are discussed at these meetings should be treated fairly, with respect and without improper discrimination. All work undertaken at the meetings will be informed by a commitment to equal opportunities and effective practice issues in relation to age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, gender, and sexual orientation.’

31.All attendees will sign a confidentiality statement to confirm that they will abide by this. In the event that telephone conferencing is being used, verbal communication will be sought from those not present in the room.

32.In addition to this, in employee sensitive cases, those present need to be aware that some agencies place certain requirements on their staff to report serious breaches of staff regulations. To cover this, the following statement must be read:

‘During the meeting, criminal offences or serious breaches of agencies’ staff professional codes of conduct may be disclosed. Please be aware that some agencies present are duty bound to report such information back to their employer. If this situation arises, the MARAC Chair must be informed as a matter of courtesy, and consideration is given to how this can be managed from a MARAC perspective.’

33.Information gained at the MARAC cannot be used for other purposes without reference and permission from the person/organisation that originally supplied it. This caveat applies unless:

  1. There are overriding child protection concerns.

  2. There are safeguarding vulnerable adults concerns.

  3. The information shared might reasonably be considered capable of undermining the case for the prosecution against the accused, or assist the case for the accused.

 

34.MARAC representatives should be aware of relevant legislation and guidelines listed in the BFG MARAC Information Sharing Agreement, which provides the legal gateway for sharing information in a MARAC meeting.

35.For further information consult the BFG MARAC ISA at Annex A of this document.

36.Protective and Privacy Markings. All documents, including emails, which in any way identify any of the parties involved in the MARAC, are to be marked with all the following Protective and Privacy markings: OFFICIAL SENSITIVE PERSONAL.

 

During the Meeting

37.Introductions. At the beginning of the meeting, all those in attendance will introduce themselves. Any new organisations will provide the meeting with a brief overview of their organisation. This ensures that all attendees have a better understanding of who can best assist victims at high risk of harm.

38.Minute Taking. The MARAC Co-ordinator is the dedicated record taker at the MARAC meeting. The minutes will provide a concise account of the meeting. The minutes of the meeting will be prepared the same day as the MARAC wherever possible, but no later than 7 working days of the meeting being held. The MARAC Co-ordinator will ensure that the minutes are distributed. Only Core agencies of the MARAC will receive the minutes of the meeting. The minutes must be checked by all recipients for accuracy. If any inaccuracies are identified, the representative must inform the MARAC Co-ordinator immediately.

 

Presenting and Discussion of Cases at MARAC

39.Introduction. The chair will introduce which case is to be discussed.

40.Presenting the Case. The referring MARAC representative will present the case.

  1. Start with the names and dates of birth of all individuals known, any disability, ethnicity, number of incidents disclosed / reported, followed by a brief summary of the history of the case.

  2. Concentrate on the risk to the victim and any children or vulnerable adults involved by working through the DASH. Make sure you cover what the actual risks are that have been identified by the victim themselves.

  3. Provide current facts about the individuals your agency is working with.

  4. DO NOT repeat any information that has already been shared, unless your information adds to, or conflicts with this information.

  5. Your information should be factual and up to date and NOT include any hearsay or supposition.

  6. When presenting the case, the individual MUST be clear on whether the information they release is factual, or professional opinion. In the latter case, the Co-ordinator will note this in the minutes.

41.Discussion. The Chair will then invite all MARAC representatives to present any relevant information that their organisation may have for that particular case. The representatives are encouraged to present only factual information. Any professional opinion should be kept to a minimum and must be recorded by the Co-ordinator on the minutes as a professional opinion. MARAC Representatives will find it useful to use their completed MARAC Research Form as a guide in presenting their information at the meeting.

42.Action Planning. A tailored action plan will be developed at the MARAC to increase the safety of victim, children, perpetrator, other parties and any professionals. This action plan must be SMART:

  1. Specific.

  2. Measurable.

  3. Achievable.

  4. Relevant.

  5. Timely.

43.There are many different actions that can be assigned to a MARAC case and this will be dependant of the merits of each case. There will be a set of standing actions for every MARAC meeting.

44.Standing Actions. The standing actions for each meeting are as follows. In addition to these, any other appropriate actions will also be set.

  1. All cases will remain on the MARAC case list for a 12 month period from this meetings date.

  2. All agencies are to flag and tag all cases on internal systems for a 12 month period from this meetings date.

  3. Feedback to all victims will be carried out by the VSW unless otherwise stated. Once completed, the feedback from the victim is then to be notified by the VSW to the Co-ordinator.

  4. Health representative will feedback to the Health Visitor and SCE to the School Nurse where appropriate.

  5. All actions are to be completed within agreed timescale and notified to the MARAC Co-ordinator.

  6. Confirm that the perpetrator has no access to either MOD issued or privately owned firearms.

  7. Notify the Co-ordinator if any of the parties involved in the case leave BFG.

45.The Chair is not able to task actions to any organisations. MARAC representatives must volunteer the actions and give a timescale for completion. This timescale will be noted on the meeting minutes by the MARAC Co-ordinator. If a MARAC representative agrees an action, it is their responsibility to ensure that it is undertaken and completed on time. MARAC representatives are responsible for notifying the MARAC Co-ordinator immediately, if they have any outstanding actions. A reason for not completing the action will be expected. If an agency regularly has outstanding issues, the MARAC Chair will notify the signatory who will then take steps to rectify the situation. This process does not remove the accountability from organisations; it aims to make the process of delivering safety transparent.

 

Feeding Back to the Victim After the MARAC

46.Following the meeting, where safe to do so, it should be the most appropriate person, usually the VSW (if consent has been given) who contacts the victim, to update them on any relevant information, and any recommendations made by the MARAC.

47.Feedback should be given to the victim regardless of whether they consented to information being shared, provided it is safe to do so. It should be made clear at the MARAC who will feedback to the victim, especially where there is no VSW involvement. The person who will provide the feedback to the victim will be documented in the action plan at the MARAC meeting.

48.Closure. Cases will be removed from the MARAC process at the end of a 12 month period, unless there has been a repeat incident. The MARAC Co-ordinator will notify agencies of the closure by email.

49.Departure of Subject from BFG. If an agency becomes aware that a victim, perpetrator or family, who is currently in the MARAC process (i.e. within 12 months of their case being heard at MARAC), is leaving BFG, they must notify the MARAC Coordinator immediately.

 

Disclosing MARAC Information

50.MARAC minutes will normally only be disclosed to courts with a court order.

Three key principles underpin this guidance:

  1. A MARAC is not a legal entity and therefore the owner of information shared at a MARAC is the original supplying agency.

  2. A MARAC should only be required to disclose information by an order of the court.

  3. Any request for information must be made to the Domestic Abuse Champion.

51.Subject Access Requests. If agencies receive a Subject Access Request which involves MARAC minutes, they must consult with other members of the MARAC before making any release.

 

6.Repeat Referrals

1.SafeLives defines a case at MARAC, as one between the same victim and perpetrators(s), where the victim has been identified as meeting the MARAC threshold for that area. A repeat MARAC case is one which has been previously referred to MARAC, and at some point in the 12 months from the date of the last referral, a further incident has occurred.

2.It is essential that all cases referred to MARAC are ‘flagged’. This is to ensure:

  1. That an agency responds appropriately to a victim that has been identified as ‘High Risk’.

  2. That the case is brought back to the MARAC as a ‘repeat’ should there be a further domestic abuse incident reported to the police, or a disclosure received by any of the agencies.

3.The following criteria constitute a 'repeat':

  1. Violence or threats of violence to the victim.

  2. Where there is a pattern of stalking or harassment.

  3. Where rape or sexual violence is disclosed.

4.In the case of a repeat, the 12 month period recommences from the date of the repeat. All original MARAC documentation will be retained and managed, subject to local arrangements and the Data Protection Act 1998.

5.When making a repeat referral, a new referral form and new DASH risk assessment must be submitted. The most important point is that the risks to/from the victim, children and perpetrator are assessed and shared. It is important to remember that MARAC requires dynamic risk assessment. Dynamic risk assessment is a continuous process of identifying risk, assessing, and developing ways to reduce or eliminate such risk. It is therefore vital that the current situation is assessed, together with the historical information.

6.Any incidents that occur more than 12 months after the last MARAC referral do not constitute a repeat incident, but instead would constitute a new referral to MARAC.

 

7.MARAC to MARAC Referrals

1.The aim of MARAC to MARAC referrals is to promote the safety of victims at high risk of harm, regardless of where they live. A MARAC to MARAC referral should be made when a victim moves between areas, either on a temporary or a permanent basis. Without this consistent process, it is possible that victims will move into new areas where the MARAC and agencies are not aware of them and their circumstances.

2.The following guidelines apply to MARAC to MARAC referrals:

  1. Where agency staffs become aware of a case that requires a transfer into/out of the MARAC, to another area, they should immediately inform the MARAC Coordinator.

  2. It is the responsibility of the MARAC Co-ordinator to ensure a transfer is made out of BFG, to the relevant MARAC. The BFG MARAC is registered with SafeLives and the Co-ordinator has an account with the organisation which gives BFG access to all registered MARAC’s in UK.

  3. Referrals from another MARAC into BFG must always be accepted regardless of local thresholds. This enables us to identify and safeguard victims of domestic abuse moving to BFG.

  4. Referrals from another MARAC into BFG will be dealt with in exactly the same way as local referrals.& The MARAC Co-ordinator will contact the referring MARAC for relevant information relating to the referral.

3.The following information should be shared when completing a MARAC to MARAC referral:

  1. MARAC minutes relating to the case.

  2. The original referral form.

  3. Any other documentation that is relevant to the new MARAC.

4.In the event that the MARAC Co-ordinator is advised that a victim has moved after a MARAC referral has been made, and the case has already been listed for discussion, but before the MARAC has actually taken place, the case will still be heard in the original MARAC. The Co-ordinator will take an action point for MARAC to MARAC transfer to be made.

 

8.Child Sex Exploitation - MARAC Protocol

1.The definition of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is as follows:

‘Sexual Exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common; involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.’

2.With the change in the definition of domestic abuse in Apr 13 to include 16 and 17 year olds, it is possible that both domestic abuse and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) could be identified at the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference. If a young person aged 16 or 17 is identified as being a victim of CSE, BFSWS will remain the lead agency for the victim.

 

9.Employee Cases

1.If it becomes necessary to refer a case to MARAC, where the victim or perpetrator works within the agencies that are represented at the MARAC, the following special measures will apply:

  1. The referrer should contact the MARAC Co-ordinator to explain the sensitivity of the case, and the risk factors that prevent the case being heard as normal. The referral must be marked as EMPLOYEE – SENSITIVE.

  2. The MARAC Chair and the Head of Service for the employing agency will consider whether the agency has any internal conflict of interest, which needs to be considered before invitations to the MARAC are sent out. The MARAC Coordinator will contact these representatives individually to explain the sensitivity of the case and its restricted nature.

  3. Attendance at the MARAC will be limited to those MARAC representatives who are required to provide the support to the victim and family or manage the perpetrator, this will include the VSW. This will be referred to as a ‘Closed MARAC’.

  4. The referring agency or VSW should encourage the victim to disclose the abuse to their line manager for support in the workplace.

  5. Data held on individual agency’s databases should be restricted to only those immediately working with the family and their line manager.

 

10.Allegations Management

1.A referral to the Allegations Management Service in BFG HQ may be needed. This is the responsibility of the referring agency, unless agreed otherwise at the MARAC.

2.If a perpetrator works with children, (including volunteers, foster carers etc.) this should be referred to the Allegations Management Service in HQ BFG.

 

11.MARAC Cases Involving Honour Based Violence; Forced Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation

 

1.Honour Based Violence (HBV) is a generic term and embraces all ‘honour crimes’, including Forced Marriage (FM) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

  1. HBV. ‘A crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community members’.

  2. FM. ‘Where one or both spouses do not consent to the marriage, or consent is extracted under duress. This can be through both physical and emotional pressure.’

  3. FGM. This is a specific criminal offence in its own right. The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes it illegal for FGM to be performed in the United Kingdom, and for any British person to aid, abet, counsel, or procure FGM on any UK national or resident anywhere in the world even it if is not illegal in that country. This legislation applies to parents who allow FGM to be performed on their daughters.

2.For the safety of the client these cases will be handled differently for reasons of sensitivity and safety. The following process will apply:

  1. If deemed suitable then the referring agency will complete the required MARAC forms and submit them to the MARAC Co-ordinator clearly marked as HBV. The Chair will then contact the referring agency and jointly agree whether the case is suitable to be heard at a MARAC.

  2. Attendance at the MARAC will be limited to core agencies and the VSW. An exception is where the referring agency is from the voluntary sector.

 

12.Child to Parent Abuse & Children Under 16 Years

1.The official definition of domestic abuse covers individuals from the age of 16. However, there are occasions of abuse where the parent/victim is over the age of 16 but the child/perpetrator is under that age. As MARAC is victim focused, if the case is deemed high risk, a referral of child to parent abuse should be made to MARAC.

2.A MARAC referral cannot be made if:

  1. If the victim is under 16 years and the perpetrator is 16 years or above. This must be referred to BFSWS as a safeguarding issue.

  2. If both victim and perpetrator are under 16 years. This must also be referred to BFSWS as a safeguarding issue.

 

13.Domestic Homicide Review

1.The Domestic Violence Crimes and Victims Act 2004, Part 1, Section 9, legally mandated Domestic Violence Homicide Reviews on 13 Apr 11.

2.Where a case has been referred to MARAC, this will provide evidence of actions taken by agencies in tackling the issue of domestic abuse where the victim has been identified as High Risk.

3.The MARAC Co-ordinator will respond in accordance with the Statutory Guidance on Domestic Homicide Reviews and share any information held, as required as part of the review process. Partner agencies should be aware that in the case of a Homicide Review, local or elsewhere nationally, the minutes and actions will be shared with the Review Panel.

 

14.Evaluation and Performance Management

1.The MARAC Coordinator is responsible for collecting all of the data relating to each MARAC. The data is reviewed by the MARAC Chair, Domestic Abuse Champion, and discussed at the Domestic Abuse Forum.

2.It will comprise part of the quarterly report to the Safeguarding Board and, where relevant, the Army Domestic Abuse Steering Group. All personal information will be omitted in both instances.

3.The MARAC Co-ordinator is responsible for providing quarterly MARAC data to SafeLives.

 

15.Complaints

1.In accordance with JSP 831, resolution of complaints, the intent is that complaints are dealt with at the lowest level possible. Resolution is to be achieved quickly and where possible informally.

2.Any complaints about the MARAC process, in the first instance, needs to be raised with the Chair of the MARAC. If necessary the Chair will refer to the agencies’ internal complaints procedure.

3.Complaints and or breaches of the agreement may be discussed with Commander BFG and at the Domestic Abuse Forum. They may also be progressed to the Safeguarding Board as necessary.

 

16.Document Retention

1.All MARAC records must be retained for a minimum of 20 years after the closure date.

2.This retention period will ensure that documentation will be available for any Domestic Homicide Reviews or Serious Case Reviews.

 

17.Equality

1.Each MARAC will treat all individuals with absolute respect regardless of their age, gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or disability.

2.Consideration will be given to providing additional support for victim/survivors with specific needs for services such as language interpreters, specialist advice, and mental health support.

 

18.Document Review

1.This Operating Protocol and Guidelines will be reviewed annually by the Domestic Abuse Champion, or sooner in the emergence of best practice.

2.The review will:

  1. Consider whether the agreement is still useful and fit for purpose.

  2. Identify any emerging issues.

  3. Determine whether the agreement should be extended for a further period or whether to terminate it.

 

19.Breach of the MARAC Protocol

1.This MARAC Protocol must be adhered to at all times. Should a breach of this protocol occur, the matter should be reported immediately to the Domestic Abuse Champion, who will inform the Senior Management of the agency deemed to be in breach.

2.It is expected that the matter will be investigated and where an individual staff member is found to be in breach, that appropriate disciplinary steps will be taken.