Domestic Abuse - Joint Targeted Area Inspections (JTAI)
Seven audits were carried out on the domestic abuse themes during 2017/18 in preparation for a possible inspection in Leeds. A multi-agency working group met monthly to discuss the theme, and carry out multi-agency audits of relevant cases.
Joint Targeted Area Inspections are carried out by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.
The inspections look at multi-agency arrangements and take a ‘deep dive’ approach to look at responses to neglect for children and young people.
Key learning and practice improvements
- Where parents have been victims of domestic abuse in previous as well as current relationships, this context is not always fully explored, and full information about previous relationships may not be shared between agencies. This can mean that decisions about risk are not informed by the full context.
- Where there has been domestic violence in previous relationships, it is important that considerations of contact arrangements for children with their birth fathers is informed by intelligence about associated risks.
- In some cases, referrals were dealt with as isolated incidents, without consideration of what the accumulation of referrals means for wider patterns of risk.
Engagement with children, young people and families
- Practitioners were persistent in their efforts to engage with children and young people and to build relationships, and agencies supported those relationships with flexible arrangements.
- Information about contact between victims and perpetrators is often based on self-report, which can result in over-optimistic assessments of risk.
- Parents have often been offered a range of support and interventions over a number of years, but their engagement with that support can be inconsistent.
Responding to children’s individual needs
- Social workers knew the individual children in sibling groups well, and identified and responded to their individual needs.
- Individual plans for young people were in line with their specific needs, for example keeping one child on a plan when risks were still present for them but not for their siblings, and making individual placement decisions in line with the needs and wishes of children and young people.
Abuse in relationships between young people
- Parents who are under the age of eighteen are still children; their needs as children should be considered, in addition to their needs as parents.
- Young people in abusive relationships often have a history of having witnessed domestic abuse in their family home. Practitioners and services need to consider how to break the intergenerational cycle of abuse, and to consider how this can affect young people’s perceptions of their own situation.
- Careful consideration needs to be given to transition to adulthood; domestic abuse services for adults are very different to those available to under eighteens.
Abuse in relationships between young people continued
- Many young people in abusive relationships (both victims and perpetrators) may have unmet emotional needs. In a number of the cases, young people were offered therapeutic support but declined it or did not consistently engage; social workers felt they may not have been ready to address these needs.
- Consideration needs to be given to joint discussions about risk, when both victim and perpetrator are under eighteen. They are likely to have different key workers who may need to share information about the young people as a couple, in addition to their individual needs.
Joint working between agencies
- Good identification of risk and appropriate referrals to the social work service had resulted in appropriate responses.
- Incomplete information received and unknown reasoning behind decision making communicated for families who had moved to Leeds from other areas had hindered risk assessment and planning processes.
- Joint working between police and social work at the early stages is critical in order to ensure appropriate and co-ordinated responses.
- In the case considered, forced marriage risks were not picked up at the earliest opportunity; initial responses focused on the risks of missing education, and whether services could intervene in relation to this.
- There is the potential that forced marriage risks may be identified earlier for a young woman rather than a young man. Practitioners need to be open to forced marriage being a risk for both male and females.
- Consideration should be given to the impact of placing an age limit on Forced Marriage Protection Orders and whether cases should remain open on Child in Need plans, in order to support the enforcement of the orders.
- Managing engagement with families in relation to forced marriage needs careful consideration; the general principles of openness with families and presumptions that extended families will be involved in the care of children and young people need to be approached with an awareness of the potential for escalating the risks.
Your next steps
Share and discuss the identified good practice and learning points with colleagues, and ensure the following is embedded in your practice:
- Ensure a holistic picture is obtained to inform risk assessments and planning.
- Consider how you can be flexible to ensure consistent relationship building and support for children, young people and families.
- Ensure individual needs are considered and responded to, especially within sibling groups.
- Remember that parents under the age of 18 are also children and their needs as children should be considered.
- When sharing information (within or across boundaries) ensure that information is complete and the reasoning behind decision making is recorded.
- Be open to the fact that forced marriage can affect both males and females.
- Understand the implications and guidance in relation to family engagement in known or suspected cases of forced marriage.