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  • Writer's pictureClaire Verney

Who are DV-ACT?

DV-ACT are an established team of experts that have worked together for many years, helping to keep children safe from domestic abuse. Read more to find out about our aims, where we came from and who we are.

Domestic Violence - Assessment Consultancy and Training

Where we came from

DV-ACT may be new but our team isn't and we are passionate about our new organisation and the ideals behind it. DV-ACT was formed in 2018 by former members of the DVIP family court team Ruth Phillips, Tracey Boylan and Claire Verney. DVIP was a pioneering London charity known for its domestic abuse perpetrator programme but also providing other domestic abuse services. The family court team within DVIP was a small group of specialists that developed out of the need to advise the court on matters of risk posed by domestic abuse.

In 2018 DVIP’s journey took a different turn when they became absorbed into Richmond Fellowship, a mental health charity with a far-reaching remit.  The majority of our team felt that the time was right to develop and advance our assessment model using the most up to date research. We place a high value on professionalism, producing reports within tight timeframes and providing clarity on questions of risk management for children in court proceedings.

Our Independence means that we now had the flexibility to refer to the most suitable interventions, to find creative and realistic means of managing risk and to devise bespoke treatment packages. We take a principled stance with the welfare of women and children at the centre of our concerns.

DVACT was formed with these goals in mind and we have gone from strength to strength. Our experts have provided expert assessments for courts and local authorities nationwide and in 17 different London Boroughs. We have also provided free training to 10 social work teams across London.

Who we are

DV-ACT comprises expert assessors with decades of experience in undertaking domestic abuse assessments and child protection interventions.

Our clinical work is overseen by 2 clinical managers with a practice manager ensuring the day to day running of the business.

Tracey Boylan - DV-ACT Clinical Manager

Tracey, has more than 30 years’ experience of working with victims and perpetrators whilst holding responsibility for strategic development, project development and staff training for various organisations. Accredited by Respect, Tracey was the manager of the DVIP family court team and an expert assessor for 13 years. In the Probation Service, she was part of the development team that first introduced domestic violence programmes such as IDAP. She has created and implemented intervention programmes for domestic violence perpetrators and victims nationwide.

Tracey also has expertise in Anger Management, where she led a successful clinic at Newbury General Hospital, and in working with adolescents and family violence. She has extensive experience of providing training to professionals and working as an expert assessor in care proceedings. She holds postgraduate qualifications in Criminology and Social Work.

Dr Ruth Phillips - DV-ACT Clinical Manager

DV-ACT Clinical Manager, Ruth, has fifteen years’ experience of working with vulnerable adults and young people, and has specialized in work with domestic violence victims and perpetrators since 2010. Most recently she has worked in treatment and assessment roles, including both as a facilitator of intervention work with domestic violence perpetrators, as an expert assessor in care proceedings and as a research associate at Manchester University.

She has authored a number of domestic violence-related reports and evaluations as well as a briefing paper and a book chapter in conjunction with her doctoral research on domestic violence perpetrator programmes. Ruth holds a postgraduate degree in Social Sciences and a Doctorate in Social Policy, where she specialised in evaluating perpetrator treatment.

Claire Verney DV-ACT Director and Practice Manager

I come from a background in administration and mental health support with experience in both corporate organisations and the charity sector. I have been working alongside this team of assessors since 2011 and, throughout this time, have handled enquiries in complex child care proceedings and managed court ordered activity cases in private law.

With a thorough knowledge of the nature of the work I have worked directly with victims of domestic and sexual abuse. I have a diploma in domestic violence and abuse and am currently working towards a BSc honours degree in Psychology.

Our team of assessors and treatment workers

Many of our independent assessors moved with us directly from DVIP. Our team of experts are all educated to post graduate level in related fields, have at least 10 years' experience as experts in the field of domestic abuse with a proven track record of direct work with victims and perpetrators, academic research and providing expert analysis and assessments to local authorities and the family courts. We have been recruiting new team members throughout 2020 to meet the increasing demand and have been successful in maintaining the high calibre of assessors. This means we have been able to continue to provide rapid responses to aenquiriesnd maintain our strict timescales. Team profiles are available on our meet the team page or contact us for full CVs of our currently available assessors. 

Domestic violence risk assessment requires particular expertise. It cannot be assumed that those with experience in psychology or other areas of child protection work, have the specialist knowledge and experience to assess the complex risks to children presented by perpetrators of domestic violence. For further details of why we believe only domestic abuse experts should be used in domestic abuse cases visit our post

Our aims

DV-ACT was created with the following aims:

  • To safeguard children from abuse - the safety and wellbeing of the child/ren is at the centre of every assessment, programme, training and consultancy service that we deliver. With recent research from the Children’s Commissioner showing that 831,000 children in England are living in households that report domestic abuse the need for children to be safeguarded from abuse within their home, is greater than ever.

  • To support professionals - we specialise in complex cases that require expert advice, providing a clear way forward for cases that may otherwise have stalled. We have a professional reputation for providing assessment reports swiftly within the child's timeframe. Towards this aim we also offer free consultations and bite-size training to social work professionals.

  • To provide an expert service - all of our team are professionals that meet the criteria set out in the Guidelines for the commissioning of expert Domestic Violence risk assessments.

  • To raise awareness of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls - Domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime and it is important that communities work together to identify the signs of abuse, support victims and hold perpetrators to account. We acknowledge that intimate partner abuse occurs in all contexts and between all genders/sexualities. However, we believe that domestic abuse is a gendered crime and responses should be guided by this.

What we do

DV-ACT provide the following services to local authorities and the family courts:

  • Domestic abuse risk and vulnerability assessments of parents and third parties involved in child protection measures.

  • Child sexual abuse risk assessments

  • Domestic abuse treatment programmes for perpetrators and victims - this includes bespoke work for individuals who do not 'fit' the acceptance criteria for community programmes.

  • Training on all areas relating to domestic abuse.

  • Consultancy on domestic abuse cases for organisations and teams.

  • Management and consultancy to set up or evaluate domestic abuse projects.

The work of safeguarding children must continue throughout every situation whatever the circumstances. DV-ACT has remained working at full capacity throughout the current pandemic and we have continued to find imaginative solutions in order to provide all of our services throughout the Coronavirus restrictions, find out more here.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our services.


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