Western Domestic Violence Partnership

Working together to generate positive action to eliminate domestic violence and abuse from our communities

    

The Western Health & Social Care Trust condemns domestic violence and recognizes it as being unacceptable and as being a crime.

 

It is the Western Health & Social Care Trust’s intention that every Trust employee who is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence will have the opportunity to raise the issue in the knowledge that the Trust will treat the matter sympathetically and confidentially. The policy applies to all employees of the Trust.

In addition to their own strategic response and interventions to tackle domestic violence and abuse the Western Health & Social Care Trust works in partnership with others through the Western Domestic Violence Partnership [WDVP] to ensure that all organisations with an interest in tackling domestic violence are working together with common objectives to have the maximum impact in the Western area.

The WDVP Mission statement reiterates the partnership aspect of the work linked inexorably to the commitment to eliminate domestic violence and abuse.

WDVP Mission; Create a collaborative, committed multi-agency partnership where the needs of domestic abuse victims are heard and where individuals and agencies come together regularly to generate positive action to eliminate domestic violence from our communities.

The Western Domestic Violence Partnership includes representation from diverse directorates within the Trust, the Police Service Northern Ireland, Women’s Aid, Men’s Action Network, the Housing Executive, NSPCC, Barnardos, The Western Education and Library Board, the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, the Public Prosecution Service and other local agencies and organisations.

Aidan Gordon the Western Health and Social Care Trust -Assistant Director for Adult Safeguarding is the WDVP Chair, representing the Partnership and the Western Area at regional policy and practice meeting. In addition to attending the Partnership meetings, as WDVP Chair, Aidan liaises with other bodies such as the Multi Agency Risk Conferencing [MARAC] and the local Adult Safeguarding Partnerships [LASP] to share information and to build an integrated response to those at risk from domestic and sexual violence.

The Partnership and its’ three sub groups [Prevention and Earlier Intervention, Protection and Justice and Support] meet quarterly, focusing on particular themes or relevant issues. The two way feedback mechanisms that exist encourage relevant issues to be identified and responses discussed at Partnership and sub group levels.

Each of the sub groups has a specific purposewhich informs the strategic direction of their work on an annual basis.

The purpose of the Prevention subgroup is to increase access to information and advice for victims, perpetrators, their families, social partner agencies and the wider community that results in;
 
- Preventing domestic violence happening in the first place
- General public education and media campaigns
- Identifying and tackling risk factors
- Increasing earlier intervention
- Providing information to increase access to support and protection
- Reducing or eliminating repeat offending

Achievements of the prevention sub-group to date have included support for the development of domestic violence workplace policies including disseminating ideas for employers to implement the policy into practice.

The group has been instrumental in the sharing of information through the WDVP Newsletters which are available from the Partnership Support Team. Articles and information from the Domestic Violence Special Interest Group based in QUB provide ongoing professional development and learning opportunities across the Partnership and its members.

WDVP annual development days, with external keynote speakers, are events that address specific themes or emerging concerns identified by members. Previous workshops have ranged from information gathering on barriers to justice for victims to examining the context and impact of teen and elder abuse.

A key aspect of the Partnership working practice is the sharing of training and development opportunities offered among and between member agencies. Examples include 

• Special Measures Training [PPS]
• MARAC [PSNI]
• Human Trafficking [Western Trust Training Team]
• Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme [PBNI]
• Preventative education programmes for children and young people [Women’s Aid and NSPCC]

Protection and Justice

The purpose of the Protection and Justice sub-group is to increase access to criminal and civil law protections for victims and to hold perpetrators accountable that result in;

- Ensuring the safety of all those affected by domestic violence and holding perpetrators accountable for their behaviour
- Ensuring a consistent and effective police response to every reported incident of domestic violence
- Engaging victims of domestic violence with the prosecution process
- Ensuring that sentences are available that reflect the crime
- Ensuring that victims are not deterred by the way that they are treated at any stage of the justice process
- Making sure the civil and criminal law offers the maximum protection to all victims to stop the violence recurring
- Updating the law on domestic violence to give further protection to victims

The introduction and implmentation of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference [MARAC] to address the safety concerns for high risk victims has been a key focus for the work of the Partnership in general and the Protection and Justice sub group in particular. The feedback from social partner agencies in relation to MARAC operations, its’ effectiveness for victims and the challenges and opportunities for staff has been vital in the ongoing development of MARAC in the Western Trust area. Seeking ways to reduce and mitigate the risk for victims and to hold perpetrators accountable, the Partnership has been assisted through information sharing with workshops in risk assessment and partnership working, safety in partnership and partnership projects to address elder and teen abuse.

Information sharing was extended further with the organisation and facilitation of a cross border seminar with colleagues in Donegal ,Sligo, Dublin and Cavan. This relationship has continued beyond the lifetime of the seminar with representatives from Donegal attending the Protection and Justice sub-group on a regular basis.

The Protection and Justice sub-group is currently providing support for an initiative to assist victims in their help –seeking journey. This involves the development of a log to capture information and assistance from different agencies and has been initiated by Women’s Aid and the PSNI in the Southern Sector of the Trust.

Support

The purpose of the Support subgroup is to ensure that victims have access to the range of support services available from different agencies those results in:

- Increasing the range of accommodation options
- Helping victims who have ended or left a violent relationship to rebuild their lives
- Providing support to anyone affected by domestic violence about the range of support services available
- Making sure that child contact arrangements in domestic violence cases ensure, as far as possible, the safety of children and their adult carers

The Support Sub group focuses in particular on the WDVP requirements to identify and build the response to “hard to reach groups”. This has resulted in a serires of papers and workshops being delivered on subjects that included pathways to support for victims, a paper on Routine and Informed Selective Enquiry [RAISE] with guidance on asking questions about domestic violence with service users and understanding the context and impact of financial abuse.

Recent themes and developments have resulted in the production of briefing papers on the context and impact of domestic violence for male victims and for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender community.

These and the other examples of the Partnership working practice referred to previously illustrate the various successful collaborations and resource sharing developed within the Partnership.

The Partnership welcomes the addition of new members, particularly in its sub-groups to assist in the work to eliminate domestic abuse. The contact details given below can be used by those organisations and groups who might be interested in joining the sub groups referred to in the information above.

Regionally, the development of an approach to tackle both Domestic and Sexual Abuse will bring additional challenges and opportunities for the work of the Partnership. Initial consultation and discussion on these changes has already begun locally within the Partnership and will continue to inform ongoing development and collaboration among and between the Partnership members in the period ahead.

WDVP Contact Details Partnership Support Team; helen@cmworks.co.uk
028 9032 9757

If you seek assistance in relation to domestic and sexual abuse please contact the 24 Hour Regional Helpline.

Click here to open the Western Domestic Violence partnership information leaflet.