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MARACs, MAPPAs and MASHs – are they Just Words?

Multi-agency working in the field of domestic violence is now pretty much a routine way of working. It’s ‘the norm’ to be honest. Voluntary, statutory and institutional organisations work together in order to protect the vulnerable and punish or restrict unscrupulous and predatory bullies. At once, it should be made clear that domestic violence is a societal phenomenon that is not restricted to any race, class or community. It affects men as well as women, the rich as well as the poor and the young as well as the old. The ‘TEAM’ mentality (Together Each Achieves More) is especially apparent from a detailed consideration of the interplay between the criminal law and family law. For example, there are a number of criminal law provisions which nicely dovetail with, or in some cases pragmatically plug the practical gaps in relation to, family law injunctive relief. The recent introduction of domestic violence protection notices (DVPNs) and domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) neatly exemplifies the interface between criminal law and family law. The police can use those procedures to evict a suspected perpetrator from the home for up to 28 days and thereby give the victim some breathing space to consider his or her options. Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) widely introduced in 2006-07 (although the first MARAC was held in Cardiff in 2003) manifest many of the ‘value-added’ benefits that are to be gained from this collaborative process. MARACs are meetings attended by a broad range of local statutory and voluntary agencies (for example the police, probation, social services and counseling services) to identify and intervene in high-risk cases of domestic violence. Their aim is to design and implement a custom-made plan to meet the needs of each specific victim and their children. Domestic violence cases may also be included in other local public protection systems such as Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) and Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH). The former focuses on convicted offenders assessed as posing the highest risk of serious harm, whereas the latter focuses on prevention, early intervention, awareness raising and support and protection for victims, with the aim of preventing abuse and trying to end repeat victimisation. For more detail visit http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed136473

 

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