27 January 2011
Islands in the Stream: an evaluation of four London independent domestic violence advocacy schemes
Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy support to high-risk victims can enhance safety and reduce repeat incidents according to a new evaluation report by Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University, commissioned by the Trust for London and the Henry Smith Charity.
Between 2007 and 2010 the two Trusts invested £900,000 (increased to £1.6 million with match funding from statutory sources)* in four projects, to enable them to increase capacity and provide specialist support in their work with high-risk victims of domestic violence in London. Each project operated in a different borough and setting, including a police station, a community centre, and A&E department of a large hospital, and specialist service targeting Black and minority ethnic communities.
The evaluation, based on the first two years of the programme, and undertaken by Dr Maddy Coy and Dr Liz Kelly of the highly respected Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit, showed that:
- The vast majority of service users were female, and almost all perpetrators male;
- All the schemes demonstrated success in enhancing safety and levels of repeat referrals and further incidents of violence recorded by IDVAs were very low;
- High proportion of service users were from Black and minority ethnic communities, with significant numbers of women with no recourse to public funds;
- Some statutory agencies had a lack of understanding about the dynamics of domestic violence, especially how jealous and controlling behaviour impacts on women's ability to act;
- Support for high-risk victims is only one part of an effective co-ordinated response. Local 'wraparound' specialist provision is essential for IDVAs to refer on to, and to prevent low to medium risk victims becoming high-risk;
- Serious concerns were raised about how some of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) were operating whilst recognising the potentially important role they play in making agencies accountable;
- The independence of the IDVA is critical if they are to be effective advocates for institutional change.
Key recommendations of the report:
- Provision for victim-survivors of domestic violence needs to be comprehensive, available for those at low, medium and high risk, including those in refuges;
- Coercive control (jealous and controlling behaviour) should be regarded as a critical risk factor and should be systematically recorded;
- IDVAs should be based in a range of settings in order to increase access to specialist support;
- Operational issues about MARACs need to be addressed.
* Funding for the projects is ongoing throughout 2011 bringing overall investment by the two Trusts to £1.3m and total investment by all partners to £2 million.
The full report and executive summary can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.
Islands in the Stream: full report (149 pages) 1.6MB PDF
Islands in the Stream: executive summary (16 pages) 894 KB PDF
Safety in Numbers: a multi-site evaluation of Independent Domestic Violence Advisor Services has been published. The study is the first large scale, multi-site evaluation of IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Advisor) services across England and Wales.
Over two years, the study followed 2,500 women across seven sites in England and Wales who were suffering from severe, high risk physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as stalking and harassment. It found that this abuse stopped completely in two-thirds of cases where there was intensive support from an IDVA service, and for those where abuse continued, levels were considerably reduced. IDVAs act as the main interface between victims and the main agencies involved in keeping them safe (eg police, courts, children's services, health services).
Recommendations from the report include increasing the number of IDVAs nationally. Currently there are less than half the 1,200 to 1,500 needed to achieve national coverage.
The cost of providing an IDVA for a high risk victim of domestic abuse per successful outcome (ie where all forms of abuse cease) is less than £1,000.
The study was commissioned by The Hestia Fund with support from The Henry Smith Charity and The Sigrid Rausing Trust. Its authors are Dr Emma Howarth and Louise Stimpson MRes with input from Diana Barran BA and an expert panel that included Dr Amanda Robinson.
The report, summary and key findings are available to download in PDF format by clicking on the links below:
Safety in Numbers: the full report (162 pages) 1.1MB PDF
Safety in Numbers: executive summary and recommendations (16 pages) 116KB PDF
Safety in Numbers: a summary of the four key findings (2 pages) 50KB PDF