Evaluation of 'Enhancing Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference’ (MARAC) Project

Conducted by: Dr Sue Peckover (Project Leader), Dr Berenice Golding and Peter Cooling, 2011-2013

Collaborators: Calderdale WomenCentre and Foundation for Families, Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

Domestic violence is the single most important risk factor identified in serious case reviews followed by parental mental illness and substance misuse. Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), an inclusive approach to assessing risks associated with domestic violence were originally piloted in Cardiff in 2003. Since then, there has been strong encouragement from the Government to roll out MARACs nationally and there are now over 240 MARACs nationwide. Between April 2008 and April 2009 data collected from over 180 MARACs showed that over 24,000 adult cases were discussed at MARAC and over 34,000 children were living in those households. Where more than one of these issues is present within a family, the risk to children rises significantly. MARAC core partners include the police, probation, NHS primary care trust, children’s services, housing agencies, women’s support services and in some areas mental health and substance misuse agencies.

Dr Sue Peckover carried out a study which involved evaluating a project entitled ‘Enhancing MARAC’, which was established by the WomenCentre in Calderdale to improve knowledge, skills and inter-professional practice in the field of domestic violence. Funded by the Department for Education, this two year project aimed to work with Local Safeguarding Children Boards and MARACs, in order to develop and improve multi-agency responses to cases which feature domestic abuse, substance misuse and parental mental health issues. The project was multi-faceted and highlighted a number of shortcomings in how domestic violence and safeguarding children issues are understood and managed in different policy and practice contexts.

Dr Peckovers’s evaluation examined barriers to success, in addition to aspects of the project which highlighted the impact of geographical, cultural and organisational factors on the project’s success.