Children and families experiencing domestic violence Police and children’s social services’ responses

Girl next to bannistersThis research examined the process whereby police notify social services of domestic abuse incidents involving children and the subsequent service pathways followed by families brought to the attention of children’s social services in this way.

It also explored the other agencies which contributed to services for families experiencing domestic abuse and captured the views of young people, survivors and perpetrators on the services they experienced. This research was conducted by NSPCC and University of Central Lancashire.

Authors: Nicky Stanley, Pam Miller, Helen Richardson Foster and Gill Thomson
Published: 2010

In England and Wales, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 amended the definition of significant harm provided by the Children Act 1989, adding a new category of “impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another”.

Since domestic violence and children’s exposure to it represent a widespread social problem, this amendment has acted to draw a potentially large group of families within the remit of children’s social services. The growing mountain of police notifications to children’s social services of domestic violence incidents where children are involved and the pressures that this has created have been noted by a range of commentators in the UK, North America and Australia.

The notification system has emerged against what is acknowledged to be a background of fragmented services for children and families experiencing domestic violence, and represents an attempt to improve communication and coordination between universal and highly targeted services.

Executive summary 9
Introduction 9
Methodology 9
The notification system: key messages 10
Research findings 11
Recommendations 15
Chapter 1. Introduction 17
Chapter 2. Methodology 25
Chapter 3. Experiencing domestic violence and using services 38
Chapter 4. The domestic violence incidents 78
Chapter 5. Police intervention in incidents of domestic violence 105
Chapter 6. Children’s social services – receiving and responding to notifications 152
Chapter 7. Subsequent interventions and outcomes 182
Chapter 8. Inter-agency work from the perspective of children’s social services 212
Chapter 9. Innovative practice 237
Chapter 10. Conclusions and recommendations 247
References 262 262

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