Risk Assessments With DV-ACT
Have you been referred for a risk assessment and don't know what it is, what you will need to do and how it will affect your case? This post is designed to answer any questions clients may have about their referral to DV-ACT for a domestic abuse risk assessment.
DV-ACT experts have worked for many years to develop domestic abuse assessments to provide expert advice to social services and the family courts. Where there are child protection concerns involving domestic or sexual abuse a parent can be referred to DV-ACT for a risk assessment, either as a stand-alone assessment or alongside an assessment of the other parent.
The primary concern in all of DV-ACT's assessments is to keep children safe from abuse, both from direct harm and also from any emotional harm that may come from living in a home where abuse is taking place.
What is a risk assessment?
A risk assessment will aim to identify the risk you pose to your partner and children. The assessment will also make recommends for how any risks can be managed in the future and give suggestions for further treatment (such as domestic abuse programmes or therapy).
Why have I been referred for an assessment?
Referrals to DV-ACT are made by children's social workers or solicitors in the family court when there are concerns about the safety of children from domestic or sexual abuse. You may be in court proceedings or your child/ren may have a social worker and have a child protection plan or a child in need. Cases are often referred to DV-ACT when they are particularly complex or if there are specific concerns around domestic and/or sexual abuse that could put children at risk.
What happens after the referral is made?
When DV-ACT receive the referral they will allocate the case to one of their expert assessors. The assessor will read the documentation in the case (this can include court paperwork, police reports, meeting minutes and case history) and contact you to arrange interview appointments. The assessor may contact you through your solicitor or directly and if your appointment is taking place remotely they will send you a link to use for your appointments as well as links to online forms that need completing as part of the assessment. If you have been referred for an assessment alongside your partner/ex-partner they will be contacted separately, DV-ACT assessors will not meet with you together even if you are still a couple.
It is important to note that if you do not attend the assessment interviews the assessment report will still be completed but you will miss the opportunity to contribute your point of view to the assessment.
Who will my assessor be?
DV-ACT assessors come from a variety of backgrounds such as social work, probation or mental health, they are highly qualified and will have at least 10 years of experience working with domestic abuse victim/survivors and perpetrators. Some of our assessors have profiles that are available on our meet the team page.
What will happen at the appointments?
The assessor will want to interview you for 4-6 hours in total and will speak to you about whether you would prefer longer or shorter appointments and what time is best for you. You must attend the appointments alone and you should not have anyone with you. Please talk to your social worker if you need help with childcare, travel or technical help with setting up online appointments. These interviews can take place using an interpreter if you need one, so please also mention this to the assessor in advance of your first appointment in case they are unaware of this.
Most interviews with DV-ACT now take place remotely using Zoom or another video calling app. The assessor will speak to you about how this can be completed safely and it would be helpful if you could; choose a room that has a good signal and is appropriate with a low risk of being interrupted, tell others in the home that you are not to be interrupted (a sign could be placed on the door) and use headphones (with headphones the prospect of someone overhearing the conversation is reduced). It is important that your appointments are confidential and that you are alone in a room where you will not be overheard. At the beginning of the appointment, the assessor will ask you to confirm that you are in a room on your own and may ask you to show them the room on your device.
In the assessment interviews, the assessor will ask questions about incidents of domestic abuse, your background, both personally and within past and present relationships, and your response to the local authorities concerns.
Are the interviews confidential?
To a certain extent the interviews are confidential, however, whatever you say to the assessor will be included in the assessment report which will be given to the referring social worker and, if you are in court proceedings, all the parties will receive a copy of the report. Speak to the assessor if you are worried about this.
What will happen after the interviews are completed?
When the assessor has completed all the interviews in the case they will write the assessment report which will include information from your interviews and from documentation supplied by the local authority or solicitors. This report will be sent to the referrer (usually the social worker or local authority) who will then share the report with you or send it to your solicitor.
If you have any further questions or concerns about your assessment please contact me, Claire Verney, I am the practice manager at DV-ACT and will be happy to help you.
Helplines and online support
National Domestic Violence Helpline 24/7 – 0808 2000 247
Womens Aid online help for female victims (Monday to Friday 10:00am - 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-12:00pm) - https://chat.womensaid.org.uk
The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327
Mens advice online chat for male victims (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – 10 – 11am and 3 – 4pm) - https://mensadviceline.org.uk/contact-us/
Respect phoneline for perpetrators of domestic abuse - 0808 8024040
Family Lives, a confidential helpline service for families in England and Wales (9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday) for emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life - 0808 800 2222
You can also email for support, advice and information at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.