• Claire Verney

The DAPP Crisis: Accepting Referrals for Parents in Family Court

The backlog caused by COVID restrictions has caused a crisis in DAPP provision with many parents unable to find a place and complete vital work to increase their child/ren's safety. This post gives further information about DAPPs and how to refer yourself or a client to DV-ACTs programme.


Intervene to stop dominoes
Where to turn for DAPP provision

In May 2022 Cafcass announced temporary measures to meet the crisis in Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programmes (DAPP) provision. DAPPs are usually delivered face to face in a group setting meaning that this service was hit particularly hard by COVID restrictions. Many providers now face significant backlogs for services that were struggling even before the pandemic with chronic underfunding and lack of resources.


The situation in the family court is such that waiting times for a DAPP will now fall well outside acceptable timeframes for children with parents having nowhere to turn and courts ordering child contact without sufficient work being completed to ensure their safety.


As an independent organisation, DV-ACT are able to continue to provide our DAPP to parents in private (contact or residency) proceedings at this time. The programme is focused on child protection, delivered by experienced perpetrator programme facilitators, and includes ex/partner support and a final risk assessment. Sessions are delivered on a one-to-one basis using video call technology which means we have availability across the UK.


This post provides further information about the programme with guidance around suitability and the referral process.


What are DAPPs?

A DAPP is a behavioural change programme delivered in the community and built specifically for perpetrators of domestic abuse. DAPP's are used in private family proceedings to work with a parent where the court has concerns regarding the safety of child contact due to domestic abuse. It is the only intervention that research has demonstrated has some success in stopping domestic violence. To find out more about programmes and their effectiveness in reducing risk please visit our post Do domestic abuse prevention programmes really work?


Therapy sessions, couples counselling, anger management or parenting programmes that do not address domestic abuse dynamics are not recommended for abusive parents and are unlikely to address the deeper issues that relate to the risk posed by a perpetrator of domestic abuse.


Who is suitable for a DAPP?

DAPP's are challenging courses aimed at changing behaviour that may have been present for many years, for that reason they are demanding and lengthy. Therefore a commitment to attend and complete the course is important and, as these programmes are designed to challenge and change abusive behaviour, parents will need to admit that they have used abusive behaviour and have the motivation to make changes. As is common with community DAPPs parents will need to attend a suitability assessment first and only those parents that take responsibility for at least some of their behaviour and show some willingness to work on them will be accepted.


Groupwork programmes are often only suitable for those that 'fit' in a group which means that there may be no provision for those that need a translator, same-sex or female perpetrators, registered sex offenders or those with learning difficulties or have mental health needs. However, DV-ACT experts have decades of experience in working with perpetrators of abuse and as the sessions are delivered on a one-to-one basis are able to offer programmes to parents in this situation.


What is the DV-ACT DAPP?

DV-ACT deliver a structured one-to-one DAPP with child protection as the primary concern. The DAPP follows the Duluth model and includes an integrated support service for ex/partners and full final assessment report when the programme is completed. The programme is also intensive with a focus on challenging abusive behaviour, however, innovative changes have been made to the traditional delivery of a DAPP to allow us to meet the concerns of the court, prioritise child protection and continue to deliver without a backlog, this is how DV-ACT is different:


  • The programme is bespoke, delivered on a one-to-one basis and sessions can be tailored for each client to address the concerns of the court

  • Material is tailored to the parent so they apply the learning to their own circumstances with an emphasis on taking responsibility for their own behaviour

  • It is accessible anywhere in the world with in-person sessions attended remotely using video calling via zoom or similar app

  • Access to technology can be provided where necessary

  • Only experienced domestic abuse programme facilitators deliver the programme sessions overseen with an expert risk assessor who provides clinical supervision

  • The programme is designed for parents and we work hard to ensure the voice of the victim and child/ren are heard with proactive free and confidential support provided to ex/partners

  • One-to-one sessions are reinforced with access to DV-ACT's online learning platform to support independent learning including homework tasks, reflective exercises and support

  • A full final report that is suitable for court proceedings is completed by an expert risk assessor who is independent of the treatment work and is able to attend court as an expert witness.

While the programme sessions can be tailored to meet areas of concern they will cover the subjects usually covered in a community DAPP including:

  • Strategies for reducing violence,

  • Analysing feelings and behaviour,

  • Motivation to change,

  • Power and control,

  • The impact of abuse on victims and children,

  • Reparative Parenting,

  • Emotional abuse,

  • Developing empathy,

  • Sexual respect and intimacy,

  • Respectful relationships,

  • Positive self-talk,

  • Attitudes towards women.

You can find out more about how sessions are delivered and integrated ex/partner support in our post 1:1 Domestic Abuse Prevention Programme


How much does it cost and what are the timescales?


Please note that this programme will not be funded by CAFCASS and you cannot use your legal aid funding as the LAA does not fund treatment. For cases with local authority involvement the cost may be met by the local authority, however, for cases in private law proceedings, the costs are met by the parent.


The fee breakdown is as follows*:


Suitability assessment (where no previous DV-ACT assessment completed) - £440

Programme sessions 1 -10 - £1215

Programme sessions 11 - 8 and final report filed upon completion - £1215


At the time of writing, we have a wait time of 2 weeks for a suitability assessment and up to 2 weeks to start following a successful assessment. Please note that this is subject to change and can depend upon circumstances.


*Please note that the fees do not include translator costs, attendance at meetings or court proceedings these will require additional funding.


How to make a referral


For cases in private law proceedings (that is where one parent takes the other to court to gain child residency or contact) we can accept a self-referral or a referral from a solicitor providing we receive the following:


  • A court order, ordering a DAPP, (please note that as DV-ACT is not a Cafcass provider you need to get agreement from the court that DV-ACT can provide this programme),

  • The contact details of the respondent (supplied directly from them, the court or their solicitor),

  • The full court bundle of documents which must include any Cafcass reports completed, statements from both parties, any assessments completed and details of finding from a finding of fact or convictions,

  • If the case includes high-risk potentially lethal behaviours by the perpetrator we may require a copy of a full robust risk assessment completed by an expert domestic abuse risk assessor that recommends the programme and confirms the parent's suitability (for further details of private law risk assessments please contact us),

  • The costs for the suitability assessment must be met in full before this can take place.


If you are a parent and want to refer yourself for a DV-ACT programme please complete this form. If you are a solicitor or social worker and want to know if a client is suitable you can complete this form. Alternatively, you can contact us.


For cases in public law (care) proceedings or child protection concerns please contact us.


A note on child protection


A common difficulty for providers of DAPPs is that there is a misunderstanding by many professionals and the courts, that DAPPs alone can be used to manage the risk posed by a parent. This is incorrect and programmes should be thought of only as an opportunity for a parent to demonstrate that they can take steps towards positive changes in behaviour. These changes will only be possible if the parent approaches the work openly with goodwill and honest motivation to change.


Completion of any programme does not necessarily reduce the risk towards victims and child/ren and can even increase the risks in the case if the courts consider that the risks are being managed by a programme and so de-escalate the case without first making sure the intervention has been effective. DV-ACT always places child protection as the primary concern, therefore, it is not recommended that any changes be made to child contact arrangements until a programme is completed and a positive final report is provided. DV-ACT final reports are completed by an expert risk assessor who can confirm whether sufficient change has taken place that can indicate safe child contact going forwards.


Resources


Help for domestic abuse is available in the UK as follows:


Call the UK police non-emergency number, 101, if you need support or advice from the police and it's not an emergency. Always call 999 in an emergency.

National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247

The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327

Respect phoneline for perpetrators of domestic abuse - 0808 8024040

Childline - 0800 1111


About us


DV-ACT are a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, programmes, 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?