MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference)
A Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) is a local, multi agency victim-focussed meeting where information is shared on the highest risk cases of domestic violence and abuse between different statutory and voluntary sector agencies.
The risk assessment process, MARAC procedures (including referral) and standards for operating MARAC meetings have been developed by Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA), a national organisation supported by the Home Office. CAADA recently changed its name to Safe Lives.
The role of the MARAC is to facilitate, monitor and evaluate effective information sharing to enable appropriate actions to be taken to increase public safety. In a single meeting the MARAC combines up to date risk information with a timely assessment of a victims needs and links those directly to the provision of appropriate services for all those involved in a domestic violence case; victim, children perpetrator and agency workers.
At a MARAC meeting high risk cases are discussed with a very brief and focused information sharing process. This is followed by the creation of an individualised multi-agency action plan which is put into place to support the victim and to make links with other public protection procedures, particularly those that manage perpetrators and safeguard children and vulnerable adults. Issues relating to children such as conflict over child contact, pregnancy and perception of harm to children are key indicators of risk in the domestic abuse risk assessment process. Thus a substantial number of victims who become MARAC cases have children (although many do not).
There are MARACs for Bournemouth, Dorset County and Poole. These meet every three weeks and are currently chaired by the Police. Agencies including the Police, Children's and Adults services, health, mental health, Probation, local authority housing departments, drug and alcohol services, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) and specialist domestic violence service providers such as refuges and outreach projects all attend.
The MARAC is victim focussed and information is shared on victims identified as being at highest risk of harm. The MARAC Flowchart (pdf, 149kb) (opens in a new window) shows the stages in the MARAC process.
The aim of the MARAC is to:
Share information to increase the safety, health and well-being of victims and their children
Determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk to any particular individual or the general community
Construct and implement a risk management plan that provides professional support to all those at risk and that reduces the risk of harm
Reduce repeat victimisation
Improve agency accountability
Improve support for staff involved in high risk domestic violence cases
Information sharing at the MARAC is governed by the Pan Dorset MARAC Information Sharing Protocol (ISP) (pdf, 129kb) (opens in a new window). The CAADA MARAC FAQ guide to sharing information at MARACs (pdf, 95kb) (opens in a new window) provides more information. The responsibility to take appropriate action rests with the individual agencies - the MARAC is the process through which information is shared. Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) will represent the victim at the MARAC if the victim chooses to engage with the service. The Pan Dorset IDVA service, covering Bournemouth, Dorset County and Poole, is currently provided by Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA).
Risk assessment and how to refer to the MARAC
Any agency can refer a victim's case to the MARAC by following the procedure below:
Complete the CAADA DASH risk assessment form (word, 43kb) (opens in a new window); 14 ticks or more meets the MARAC threshold and the case should be referred. The top six risk indicators, based on findings from Domestic Homicide Reviews are - pregnancy, stalking/harassment, separation/child contact, sexual abuse, escalation of abuse and isolation. Cases which do not make the 14 tick threshold but where, in the professional judgment of the person undertaking the assessment, the risk is still high should also be referred (particularly if any of the top six risk indicators have been recorded).
If, on completion of the risk indicator checklist, the case does not meet the MARAC threshold consider other support you may need to give the victim within your agency and signpost to other specialist services available locally and nationally.
Victims in an intimate partner relationship aged 16+ can be referred. Cases where an adult parent meets the threshold for MARAC by the number of ticks on the DASH but where the perpetrator of the abuse is a child or young person can also now be referred to the MARAC. In such cases, the child or young person is likely to be a child in need and should be referred to children's social care for consideration of services under S17 of the Children Act 1989. This will ensure that the needs of both the adult high risk victim and their children are considered and addressed within a risk management framework and existing safeguarding procedures. Practitioners working with adults who are being abused by a child or young person, particularly their own child or step-child, should consider that this may make the case suitable for referral to the MARAC on professional judgement even if the 14 tick threshold on the DASH risk assessment is not met, depending on their wider knowledge of the case and the family situation.
Before making the referral discuss the case with your line manager, supervisor or MARAC representative and consider what immediate actions you and your agency need to undertake to support the victim, and their children, and increase their safety. This might include advising the victim to contact the police.
- Advise the victim that you are making the MARAC referral, that the referral will go to the police and that an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) will be in contact with them by telephone to offer them support if they want it. It is also important that the consent of the victim is obtained.
To make the referral, complete the MARAC referral form (word, 68kb) (opens in a new window) as fully as possible including reference to the number of ticks on the DASH risk assessment and an explanation of the reasons for referring on professional judgement if the 14 tick threshold has not been met. Reasons for the referral and the risks identified should be clear. A copy of the MARAC Referral Form December 2014 with guidance (pdf, 152kb) (opens in a new window) has been produced to assist practitioners. All sections of the form must be completed in full to enable both the police and MARAC partner agencies to undertake accurate research on both the victim and the alleged perpetrator. If there are no children please state this clearly on the form. Incomplete forms or forms which do not evidence that the MARAC threshold has been met may be rejected. MARAC referrals must be typed not hand-written.
Send the MARAC referral form and the completed risk indicator checklist by secure E mail to the MARAC administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org. To use secure E mail you will need to send the email from your own secure E mail address (secure E mail addresses are those including pnn, gsi, gcsx, nhs.net and cjsm) and mark it RESTRICTED.
When you make a referral to the MARAC please advise the representative who attends the MARAC meeting for your agency.
You will receive an E mail acknowledgement of your referral. To find out when the case will be heard at MARAC or if you have not received acknowledgement of receipt of the referral please contact the MARAC administrator. MARAC dates for 2015 (pdf, 13kb) (opens in a new window) and 2016 (pdf, 19kb) (opens in a new window) for Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole can be found on these links.
The Police's Domestic Abuse Unit will automatically refer all MARAC cases to the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) Service. An IDVA will then make contact with the victim before the MARAC meeting.
- Make sure you keep any records of the MARAC referral secure by following local information sharing processes in place in your agency and the MARAC Information Sharing Protocol (see above).
- If you are aware that a case has already been referred to MARAC in the last 12 months and the victim has been subjected to further violence, threats of violence, stalking, harassment, rape or sexual abuse (whether reported to the police or not), it should be referred back as a repeat irrespective of the number of ticks on the RIC.
Full details of how the MARACs operate in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole can be found in the MARAC Operating Protocol (pdf, 154kb) (opens in a new window).
A half day training course on the MARAC is available.
General information about the MARAC and risk assessment
Safe Lives (formerly CAADA) is a national charity which aims to create a consistent, professional and effective response to high risk survivors of domestic violence. Safe Lives achieves this through the creation of a strong infrastructure for the domestic violence advocacy sector and other domestic violence professionals generally.
Safe Lives has produced a very good toolkit (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window) which contains more detailed information on the MARAC. Note - please do not use the MARAC referral form contained in this document. Toolkits are also available for individual agencies. These can be found on the CAADA website (opens in a new window).