8.14 Domestic Violence and Abuse

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Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • Psychological;
  • Physical;
  • Sexual;
  • Financial;
  • Emotional.

Women are more likely to experience the most serious forms of domestic violence and abuse but it is important to acknowledge that there are female perpetrators and male victims and that domestic violence and abuse also occurs within same sex relationships.


The definition of 'harm' in Section 31A of the Children Act 1989 (introduced by the Adoption and Children Act 2002) recognises that a child may suffer harm through witnessing domestic violence and abuse.



Abuse of children as a result of domestic violence and abuse may manifest itself in a variety of ways including physical violence, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual violence, financial control and the imposition of social isolation or movement deprivation.


Where there is domestic violence and abuse, the implications for the children in the household must be considered because research evidence indicates a strong link between domestic violence and abuse and all types of abuse and neglect. These children should be regarded as Children in Need and may display low self-esteem, depression, absenteeism from school, bullying, antisocial or criminal behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse and self-harm


Significant Harm may result from the adverse psychological effect on children of being aware of threats or actual violence between adults, as well as the extra risk of physical injury, either by accident in the midst of a violent incident or by design from a violent adult.


Any agency assessment should consider the possibility of domestic violence and abuse and ensure the response safeguards both the child and the non-abusing parent.


Local arrangements set out how this assessment is undertaken including use of theDASH Risk Assessment Tool and referral to the MARAC process.


A MARAC is a multi-agency meeting, which has the safety of high risk victims of domestic violence and abuse as its focus. The MARAC is a process involving the participation of all the key statutory and voluntary agencies who might be involved in supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse. The objective of the MARAC is to share information and establish a simple multi-agency action plan to support the victim and make links with other public protection procedures, particularly safeguarding children, vulnerable adults and the management of offenders. The MARAC meeting is a part of a wider process, which hinges on the early involvement and support most frequently in the form of an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and continued specialist case management, both before and after the meeting. The MARAC should combine the best of both specialist supports, together with the co-ordination of generic agencies whose resources and involvement will be needed to keep victims and their children safe.



Police and health are often the first point of contact and they (or any other agency that becomes aware of domestic violence and abuse) should safeguard the safety of the victim and:

  • Ascertain whether there are any children living in the household or if the victim is pregnant;
  • Make a preliminary determination of the degree of exposure of the children to the incidents of violence and its consequent impact;
  • Where possible provide the victim with information on local support services and refuge details, taking into account any ethnic or cultural issues (available from local domestic violence forums).

In addition the Police will notify Children's Social Care whenever they become aware of an incident of domestic violence and abuse, including details and information about the family in the referral.


On notification of an incident of domestic violence and abuse within a family, theminimum response by Children's Social Care must be to consult existing records and consider what else is known of the family.


For any serious incidents of domestic violence and abuse between adults, where there is a child in the household, a Child and Family Assessment must be undertaken.


Lesser incidents should be considered individually, but no more than three minor incidents should be allowed to occur without the completion of at least an Assessment.


If a child has experienced Significant Harm during any domestic violence and abuse incident, a Section 47 Enquiry must be undertaken.


Whenever an Assessment is undertaken, or at any time thereafter, all agencies involved with the family should be informed of any domestic violence and abuse incidents.


Where the family refuse to co-operate with an Assessment, consideration should be given to the justification for a Section 47 Enquiry.



Intervention in families where there is domestic violence and abuse should give careful consideration to the wording of any letters sent out to the family and provide opportunities for both partners to be interviewed separately. It is important to create a safe environment to enable disclosure.


Many victims of domestic violence and abuse feel unable to disclose its existence or severity. The following issues should be discussed with the alleged victim as part of any assessment:

  • Severity, frequency and history of any violence, threats etc;
  • Circumstances of the domestic violence and abuse and if compounded by drugs/alcohol;
  • Extent and nature of the children's experience of the domestic violence and abuse;
  • Perception of risk to the child(ren);
  • Threats used - consider all household members;
  • Available options - immediate and in the future;
  • Factors that prevent victim taking action to protect self and children;
  • If possible to share victim's perceptions with alleged perpetrator.

The alleged victim of domestic violence and abuse should be advised of the availability of legal advice and options available through the Protection from Harassment Act, 1997 and the Family Law Act 1996 Part IV.


The interview with the alleged perpetrator of the violence should be planned carefully between the worker and their line manager. Care must be taken not to collude with the alleged perpetrator such as disclosing addresses, making unsafe contact arrangements etc.


If there is an acknowledgement of domestic violence and abuse, the interview should clarify the points in the list of bullet points above. Where there is no acknowledgement of violence and it is not possible to share the victim's account, there should be general discussions about the children's welfare.


The children should be interviewed (if sufficient age and understanding) and their experiences explored. It is important to consider the possibility that the child may have experienced direct abuse themselves and /or may be inhibited from disclosing concerns due to fear of (further) abuse to themselves.


If a Child Protection Conference is held, consideration should be given to any need to exclude the violent partner for part or all of the meeting.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)

Domestic Violence Protection Orders


Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) were implemented across England and Wales from 8 March 2014.


They provide protection to victims by enabling the police and magistrates to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident.


With DVPOs, a perpetrator can be banned with immediate effect from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need.


Before the scheme, there was a gap in protection, because police couldn’t charge the perpetrator for lack of evidence and so provide protection to a victim through bail conditions, and because the process of granting injunctions took time.

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Clare’s Law’)


The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) (also known as ‘Clare’s Law’) commenced in England and Wales on 8 March 2014. The DVDS gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner. This scheme adds a further dimension to the information sharing about children where there are concerns that domestic violence and abuse is impacting on the care and welfare of the children in the family.


Members of the public can make an application for a disclosure, known as the ‘right to ask’. Anybody can make an enquiry, but information will only be given to someone at risk or a person in a position to safeguard the victim. The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of gender.


Partner agencies can also request disclosure is made of an offender’s past history where it is believed someone is at risk of harm. This is known as ‘right to know’.


If a potentially violent individual is identified as having convictions for violent offences, or information is held about their behaviour which reasonably leads the police and other agencies to believe they pose a risk of harm to their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.



The three central imperatives of any intervention for children living with domestic violence and abuse are:

  1. To protect the children, including unborn children;
  2. To empower the non-abusing parent to protect the children;
  3. To identify the abusing partner and hold him or her accountable for the abusive behaviour and provide opportunities to change this behaviour.

The local authority may pursue legal options of:

  • Relocation of alleged perpetrators of abuse;
  • Injunctions attached to Prohibited Steps Orders;
  • Exclusion conditions attached to Emergency Protection Orders and Interim Care Orders;
  • An injunction under the Housing Act 1996 to restrain anti-social behaviour with power of arrest attached, where violence has occurred or is threatened).

Women with children fleeing domestic violence and abuse may receive support from the Housing Department. Children's Social Care should be included in planning the course of action if relocation is necessary.



Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and the three Safeguarding Children Boards (West Sussex, Brighton & Hove and East Sussex) in Sussex take seriously the statutory role they have to ensure that member agencies co-operate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in  Sussex and to ensure that they are effective in doing so.


As part of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in accordance with the Children Act 2004 and Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2018), the three Boards have developed this e-safety strategy built on four key areas:

  • Policies, practices and procedures;
  • Education and training;
  • Infrastructure and technology;
  • Standards and inspection.

As part of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in accordance with the Children Act 2004 and Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2018), the three Boards have developed this e-safety strategy built on four key areas:

  • Policies, practices and procedures;
  • Education and training;
  • Infrastructure and technology;
  • Standards and inspection.

Purpose of the Strategy


The Sussex Safeguarding Boards are committed to raising awareness of e-safety issues to all partner organisations and promoting good practice to reduce risks to children and young people when they are online or when using digital electronic technologies.


This strategy has been written to provide the e-safety framework for member agencies of the three Boards and other agencies and organisations who work with children and young people within the Sussex area. 


It cannot, and does not attempt to, cover all arrangements for agencies, organisations and educational establishments working in the area and should be seen as guidance to help inform what local agencies, organisations and educational establishments need to do to ensure they are equipped to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in a digital age. The strategy recognises that being safe on line is not just a matter of technology and that a comprehensive approach to e-safety is necessary.

Note: The Serious Crime Act (2015) has introduced an offence of sexual communication with a child. This applies to an adult who communicates with a child and the communication is sexual or if it is intended to elicit from the child a communication which is sexual and the adult reasonably believes the child to be under16 years of age. The Act also amended the Sex Offences Act 2003 so it is now an offence for an adult to arrange to meet with someone under 16 having communicated with them on just one occasion (previously it was on at least two occasions).

Where there are concerns in relation to a child’s exposure to extremist materials, the child’s school may be able to provide advice and support: all schools are required to identify a Prevent Single Point of Contact (SPOC) who is the lead for safeguarding in relation to protecting individuals from radicalisation and involvement in terrorism.

Suspected online terrorist material can be reported through GOV.UK. Content of concern can also be reported directly to social media platforms – see UK Safer Internet Centre website.



“All agencies providing services to children have a duty to understand e-safety issues, recognising their role in helping children to remain safe online while also supporting adults who care for children.” Becta 2008, Safeguarding Children in a Digital World.


E-safety is the process of limiting risks to children and young people when using Information and Communications Technology (ICT). E-safety is primarily a safeguarding issue not a technological issue, which relates to the use of all ICT- fixed or mobile; current, emerging and future ICT.


ICT is used daily as a tool to improve teaching, learning, communication and working practices to the benefit of our children and young people and those that work to support them. The use of ICT is recognised as being of significant benefit to all members of our community, in personal, social, professional and educational contexts. However alongside these benefits, there are potential risks that we have a statutory duty of care to manage, to ensure they do not become actual dangers to children and young people in our care or for employees. Social networking sites are often used by perpetrators as an easy way to access children and young people for sexual abuse. In addition radical and extremist groups may use social networking to attract children and young people into rigid and narrow ideologies that are intolerant of diversity: this is similar to the grooming process and exploits the same vulnerabilities. The groups concerned include those linked to extreme Islamist, or Far Right/Neo Nazi ideologies, Irish Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups, extremist Animal Rights groups and others who justify political, religious, sexist or racist violence.

E-Safety Risks & Issues

E-safety risks and issues can be roughly classified into three areas: content, contact and conduct. The following are basic examples of the types of e-safety risk and issues that could fall under each category.


  Commercial Aggressive Sexual Values
Content (child as recipient) Adverts
Spam Sponsorship Personal info
Violent/hateful content Pornographic or unwelcome sexual content Bias
Misleading info or advice
Contact (child as participant) Tracking Harvesting Personal info Being bullied, harassed or stalked Meeting strangers Being groomed Self-harm
Unwelcome persuasions
Conduct (child as actor) Illegal downloading Hacking
Financial scams Terrorism
Bullying or harassing another Creating and uploading inappropriate material Providing misleading info/advice

DSCF, 2008 - Safer Children in a Digital Word: The report of the Byron Review

Key Measures for Limiting E-Safety Risks


The three Sussex Safeguarding Boards support the use of the Becta PIES model which offers an effective strategic framework for approaching e-safety. This model illustrates how a combination of effective policies and practices, education and training, infrastructure and technology underpinned by standards and inspection can be an effective approach to manage and limit e-safety risks.8.12.46_pies_model_e-safety_risks

Policies & Practices


Any organisation that has contact with children and young people should:

  • Appoint a dedicated e-safety lead;
  • Create and maintain an e-safety policy;
  • Make sure that appropriate Acceptable Use of ICT Policy and Staff User Agreements are in place;
  • Have a procedure in place for reporting an e-safety incident, e.g. clear lines of reporting incidents of misuse of ICT by users and safeguarding incidents when a user is at risk or has come to actual harm through the use of ICT;
  • Review and evaluate all internal policies and procedures (at least every;
  • 12 months or in response to new technologies or e-safety incidents if sooner.

Procedures Diagram

Infrastructure & Technology


All organisations providing services to children and young people which also provide access to ICT should:

  • Identify all technologies used within the organisation itself and carry out risk assessments with regards to e-safety;
  • Consider the use of additional software and/or settings for technologies to limit the e-safety risk; 
  • Use up to date security software / solutions for technologies;
  • Where Internet access is available, Becta advises that a web content filtering product or service must as a minimum:
    1. Subscribe to the Internet Watch Foundation Child Abuse Images and Content (CAIC) URL List;
    2. Block 100% of illegal material identified by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF);
    3. Capable of blocking 90% of inappropriate content in each of the following categories:
      • Pornographic, adult, tasteless or offensive material;
      • Violence (including weapons and bombs);
      • Racist, extremist and hate material;
      • Illegal drug taking and promotion;
      • Criminal skills and software piracy.

Education & Training


Any organisation that has contact with children and young people should aim to raise awareness of e-safety through education and training.


E-safety training should be incorporated into the organisation’s children’s workforce training strategy, e.g. safety awareness, acceptable use, safeguarding procedures. This should include induction of new staff, plus on-going support and supervision of existing staff. Staff should be made aware of local, regional and national issues with regards to e-safety and should be confident in their abilities to escalate an incident as necessary and appropriate.


An organisation should also consider their role in giving e-safety information and guidance to children, young people, parents and carers.


There are many training resources and support materials dealing with the issues of e-safety with children, young people, parents and professionals which can be used by your organisation.



  CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) Safety Centre
  Childnet International
  Know IT All
  Professionals Online Safety Helpline (UKSIC) Email or telephone 0844 381 4772
  SWGfL Staying-Safe (South West Grid for Learning)
  Think U Know (CEOP)
  UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC)

Children, Young People & Families

  A Parent’s Guide to Technology (UKSIC)
  Connect Safely
  Get Safe Online
  Know IT All
  Think U Know


Standards and Inspection


Quality assurance activity is essential to ensuring that policies and strategies are effective. This may include:

  • Gathering relevant information to establish the extent of current awareness and training resources available;
  • Review and evaluate all internal policies and procedures (at least every;
  • 12 months or in response to new technologies or e-safety incidents if sooner);
  • Developing a mechanism for reporting the number of e-safety incidents;
  • Developing an audit plan to assess the extent to which e-safety is incorporated into safeguarding activity.

Monitoring and Review of this Strategy


This strategy will be monitored and reviewed on an annual basis (or sooner in response to new technologies or e-safety incidents).

Glossary of Related Terms

Information and Organisations

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