Why we are Still Working in Lockdown
With many organisations having to furlough staff and stop services, DV-ACT have continued to work as usual. We tell you why and how.
On 10th March we sent out guidance for social workers on how to complete safety planning with families in the event of a Coronavirus lockdown and we have been overwhelmed with the response. To date there have been hundreds of views on that post alone and numerous emails from social workers thanking us for the guidance. We have followed this up with posts on how to support families isolating with an abuser, emergency planning with perpetrators, and how to keep victims safe when using video calls.
Concerned by the lack of government response to domestic abuse issues we have also put together guidance for the general public about how to spot and report abuse in their communities which is circulating through our networks on social media.
As well as continuing to raise awareness of the difficulties that families are now facing, we also want to continue to support social workers in their vital work safeguarding children from abuse.
We recognise that the pandemic has put additional pressure on social workers, exacerbated by a critical lack of funding, sickness among colleagues, absences from those in self-isolation, and difficulties with childcare.
Although largely unrecognised, solicitors are also continuing to work as key workers and face unprecedented challenges.
The UK government Coronavirus measures came into force on Monday 23 March, however, courts have continued to operate with Cafcass figures showing barely a drop in new public law cases for March and April. March saw 1,426 new public law cases and April 1,374, compared to last years' 1,589 and 1,506. Clearly care proceedings are continuing to take place at their normal pace despite the restrictions.
A 2 week rapid consultation on the use of remote hearings in the family justice system, carried out by Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, gave us a snapshot of how remote working is taking a toll on the physical and mental health of legal professionals.
"Well-being has gone out the window completely" (Barrister)
"In short, this is stressing me out in a way I never encountered in all my years in practice and as a judge..." (Judge)
"I personally have found the process of remote working far more stressful than I had anticipated...." (Barrister) - NFJO Remote hearings in the family justice system: a rapid consultation, the full report can be read here
Providing an expert service
So, we have made the decision to continue working from home and carry on providing the same expert domestic abuse assessments that we always have, with the entire process taking place online. Assessments are still completed within our normal timescales and are available across the UK. We can also give evidence to court when needed, with our experts already experienced at giving evidence to court remotely. In addition to this we are also offering social workers free consultations on complex cases.
In short, our reports are still being delivered on time, within budget, and to the same high standard as they have always been.
We are proud to continue to work alongside our legal and social work colleagues, and look forward to the time when we can meet again, face to face.
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 domestic abuse, support referrers and provide an expert service.