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Early Intervention in Domestic Violence and Abuse

Domestic Violence and Abuse is the first in a series of reports on different aspects of Early Intervention. We chose to focus on domestic violence and abuse in our first report because it is an important cause of long-term problems for children, families and communities. The damaging impacts of witnessing domestic violence and abuse on children can cast a long shadow with inter-generational consequences sometimes leading to a repetition of abusive and violent behaviours. Moreover, domestic violence and abuse is not confined to a small section of the population but highly prevalent with 30% of women having experienced any domestic abuse since the age of 16 and 1.2% of people aged 16-59 having experienced partner abuse involving severe force in the last year. It also comes with immense costs – it is estimated that the overall costs to society of domestic violence and abuse stands at over £15.7bn. There must be more effective ways of preventing domestic violence and abuse and protecting children and families from its long-term effects.

The Early Intervention Foundation’s (EIF) focus is on the flow of evidence between research, practice and policy, with the goal of driving improvements to children’s outcomes and breaking intergenerational patterns of disadvantage and dysfunction. Our approach is characterised by three roles: to assess the evidence of what works, to advise on the best Early Intervention approaches and to advocate for a shift in the culture from late to early intervention. A pre-emptive, early approach not only has the potential to improve the lives of children and families, but also represents an intelligent approach to spending – with possible long term savings as a result.

A particular focus of the EIF is on ensuring children and young people have the bedrock of social and emotional skills, resilience and capability they need to function as effective, responsible adults with good levels of autonomy and well-being. In that context Early Intervention refers to the programmes and practices provided to babies, children, young people and their families to help achieve these outcomes. Many such Early Intervention services focus on supporting parenting as a key driver of success.

EIF also provides advice to all interested in Early Intervention including practitioners, Local Councils, Schools, Police and Crime Commissioners, Clinical Commissioning Groups, the voluntary sector and Government on the causes of poor outcomes for children and young people and what has been shown to work to tackle these. We are working initially with 20 Pioneering Early Intervention Places including 18 Local Councils and 2 Police and Crime Commissioners across the country to help make Early Intervention a reality on the ground. Domestic violence and abuse is an issue that has been recurrently highlighted by local commissioners as an issue of serious concern and one which requires improved services. Many practitioners are looking at how to identify at risk groups in the population, better equip local workforces and provide more integrated services that respond to domestic violence and abuse alongside other issues that families may be facing.

This report is not intended as a systematic and exhaustive review of ‘What Works’ in addressing and preventing domestic violence and abuse. The purpose of this report is to assess the extent to which evidence on domestic violence and abuse indicates that it can be an important cause of long term problems for children and families, and the role of Early Intervention in pre-empting this. The report combines our 3 ‘A’s – assessment, advice and advocacy. It assesses a suite of preventative programmes for children and young people, Early Intervention initiatives for families at risk of domestic violence and abuse and perpetrator programmes. It reflects the feedback we have had from our 20 Pioneering Places and wider research to provide advice for local commissioners and others. It goes on to advocate for specific actions and tangible recommendations for government and other agencies.