1,655 domestic abuse referrals to MARAC in Western Trust area in past five years
Over 1,500 domestic abuse, stalking and harassment (DASH) referrals were made by the Western Trust to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) over the past five years.
In total there were 1,655 referrals between 2016 and 2020: 389 in 2016, 324 in 2017, 327 in 2018, 329 in 2019 and 386 in 2020. The Western Trust released the information in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Under the Trust’s guidance for responding to potential incidents of domestic abuse the victim’s consent should be obtained for a referral.
“If a woman has revealed that someone she is close to is abusing her, it is important to provide support and information and encourage her to have a safety plan.
“A DASH (Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment and Honour Based Violence) risk assessment should be carried out. Practitioners will assess the risk to children at this time.
“Where there is evidence of domestic abuse, the possibility of the children being subjected to violence, or other harm, should be assessed.
“The practitioner must discuss this with the safeguarding children nurse specialists (SCNS) and follow Trust and Regional Safeguarding policies and procedures at all times.
“The need to follow these procedures should, where possible, be discussed with the woman, and her consent gained for a referral to Social Services and if necessary MARAC,” a Western Trust guidance document entitled Domestic Abuse Routine Enquiry (DARE) stipulates.
MARACs are conferences for sharing of information between statutory agencies including police, health, child protection and housing staff and specialists from the voluntary sector when a Trust assessment deems there to be high risk of domestic abuse.
According to the Western Trust DARE document domestic abuse continues to be serious problem across the north and women are far more likely to suffer violence in a domestic setting than men.
“Being female is the greatest risk factor for experiencing domestic abuse.
“Research shows that at least one in three women have, or currently experience domestic abuse.
“Domestic abuse accounts for a significant proportion of all recorded violent crime in Northern Ireland,” states.
The Western Trust says that it has ‘an Adult Safeguarding Nurse Specialist, who is part of an adult Gateway team of nurses and social workers who receive adult safeguarding referrals and who are happy to give advice on all aspects of actual or suspected adult abuse, including domestic’.