top of page
  • Writer's pictureClaire Verney

How DV-ACT Assessments Safeguard Children in Care Proceedings

DV-ACT experts have worked for many years to provide independent assistance to the family court and are proud to work alongside legal professionals to keep children safe from domestic and sexual abuse.

We know that care proceedings cases are increasing in the UK with an ever increasing pressure to reduce timescales and costs without loosing the focus on the safety of the child/ren. This post will explain how DV-ACT assessments provide vital expert opinion to the courts in order to safeguard children from domestic and sexual abuse.

The need for Domestic Abuse Expert Assessments

The impact of the Coronavirus crisis on families is as yet unknown, but there is an expectation that it will cause an increase in domestic abuse cases for local authorities to deal with and the most serious of these continuing to the family court. An average of 88 children are taken into care each day in the UK with domestic abuse and substance misuse named as the most common reason behind a rise in child protection cases.

Family courts often turn to an expert when a case is complex or has specific concerns that could put children at risk. DV-ACT expert assessors have been providing advice to the family courts for decades and meet the stringent criteria outlined in the 2012 guidance for commissioning expert risk assessments (Guidelines for the commissioning of expert domestic violence risk assessments).

How DV-ACT assessments assist the court

DVACT assessments are comprehensive and are based upon an analysis of empirically derived risk indicators taken from multiple sources of information about the parent’s background, giving full consideration to both static and dynamic risk factors. Where domestic abuse and sexual offending are a concern DV-ACT assessments provide the following:

A child centred approach - Regardless of the type of report that is completed, the safety of the child is the main consideration in the forming of all of our assessments.

Insight into the dynamics of domestic abuse – We offer a level of clarity and insight into the dynamics of abuse and ongoing risks within the family, including an expert opinion on specific issues of concern such as whether the couple have genuinely separated and who the primary perpetrator is.

Swift responses - Mindful of the children’s timescales, DV-ACT have a professional reputation for providing expert reports within greatly reduced timescales of 4 - 8 weeks (depending upon the type of assessment) and will meet court dates wherever possible. Preliminary reports are available within just 2 weeks to provide an outline of static risk/vulnerability indicators and an indication of dynamic factors, while also giving an early view on treatment suitability and prognosis for change.

Experienced expert witnesses - All of our assessment reports can be used in court proceedings and our experts have many years' experience in the family courts as specialists and expert witnesses.

Relevant expertise - It cannot be assumed that professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, or those with experience in other areas of child protection work, have the specialist knowledge and experience to assess the complex risks to children presented by domestic violence and abuse. All DV-ACT assessors possess the competencies and expertise outlined in the 2012 guidelines for the commissioning of expert domestic violence risk assessments. Further details on how our Assessors meet these guidelines can be found in our post 'What is the essential criteria for commissioning a domestic abuse expert?'

"those commissioning domestic violence risk assessments should seek out practitioners who have applied knowledge of risk assessment methodology, and the capacity to apply findings from the research literature to the specifics of the case, as well as experience of direct work with domestic violence perpetrators and victims.” - Dr Chris Newman Guidance for Commissioners of Domestic Violence Risk Assessments in Family Law proceedings May 2012

Specialised assessments - DV-ACT provide a number of assessments that include perpetrator, vulnerability (victim impact), both parents (joint), whole family, third party and sexual offending.

Specialising in complex cases - our assessors have completed cases involving a number of issues such as female perpetrators, cultural imperatives, non-English speakers, same sex relationships and multiple partners.

Assessments that can reduce the need for Care Orders – We can often identify realistic treatment options and risk management strategies that reduce the need for care orders and the financial, social and emotional costs of removing children.

Independent - DV-ACT is an independent organisation with all assessments funded on a spot purchase basis.


Further details on the types of assessments we provide can be found on our assessment page, printable documentation is available on our resources page. For information on how to make a referral please contact us using the details below, you can also visit our post 'how to make a DV-ACT referral'

CVs for our available assessors are provided upon request, brief profiles of our assessors can be found on our meet the team page.

Please note that we are continuing to provide expert assessments to our normal timescales throughout Coronavirus restrictions. All DV-ACT staff are currently working from home and are available at this time.

About us

DV-ACT are a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, consultancy and training to local authorities and the family courts. 

Our experts have decades of experience working directly with domestic abuse perpetrators and victims, as specialist assessors and as expert witnesses in the family courts.

DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse, this is at the heart of everything that we do. To read more about us, please visit our post - Who are DV-ACT?


bottom of page