4.3 Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

1. Introduction

A Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) is a multi-agency meeting, which has the safety of high risk victims of domestic abuse and their children or other adults who may be vulnerable as its focus. For more information about see Domestic Abuse Procedure.

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 abuse. The objective of the MARAC is to share information and establish a multi-agency action plan to support the victim and make links with other public protection procedures, particularly safeguarding children, safeguarding adults and the management of offenders. Sheffield has a MARAC Operating Protocol and Information Sharing Agreement.

The MARAC meeting is a part of a wider process which hinges on the early involvement and support from 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 support, together with the co-ordination of generic agencies whose resources and involvement will be needed to keep victims and their children safe.

Where an offender is being managed at MAPPA level 2 or level 3, the IDVA should be invited to the MAPPA meeting in order that relevant information is shared both ways. See Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) Procedure for more information.

2. Outline of Service and Expectations for MARAC for Children's Social Care, Health and Police

  • Representation - Agencies are required to nominate a MARAC Core Representative and a Deputy MARAC Core Representative who takes responsibility for:
    • Taking ownership of confidential information;
    • Researching MARAC cases, or receiving the research that has been conducted, including cases listed as alerts only;
    • Attending MARAC meetings;
    • Sharing relevant information at MARAC;
    • Presenting cases referred to MARAC by their agency;
    • Being dynamic in offering up actions to safeguard victim and children;
    • Be accountable for actions raised for their agency;
    • Be a proactive member of a multi-agency team;
    • Flagging/tagging/putting alerts on systems.
  • Identity - Agencies should have systems in place to identify victims of Domestic Abuse. Many services now have some form of routine enquiry questions at point of assessment that are agreed for use with all service users. Guidance on asking the question can be found here;
  • Risk Assess - Agencies should adopt a consistent approach to risk assessing to ensure all evidence based risk factors are taken into consideration and avoid duplication. Therefore, the DASH risk identification checklist should be used by all agencies to establish the victim's level of risk – the DASH should be used with all victims unless it is clear that the abuse is historic and no longer taking place – if there is child contact the safest option would be to undertake the DASH in case of ongoing coercive control or harassment exercised via contact to do with children. If another agency has completed a DASH it is always good practice to review it with the victim – they may be less reluctant to share details of the abuse with one agency rather than another. And be aware that abuse is dynamic and situations can escalate quickly. Always review the DASH following a new incident or significant change in circumstances.
    See Sheffield DACT website for the DASH and practice guidance.

    The SafeLives website also has useful information and resources for practitioners including agency guides to MARAC. Once an assessment has been completed, any immediate safety measures required should be implemented to safeguard victim and children, such as making a referral to Children's Social Care - see Making a Referral following the Identification of Child Safety and Welfare Concerns Procedure for more information;
  • Referral - Agencies who have identified a victim as being at high risk of further serious harm or homicide should complete the MARAC Referral section of the DASH and forward it to the MARAC Administrator and the Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) Service – details are on the DASH form. The IDVA Service will make contact with the victim prior to MARAC to offer support and identify key risks and fears;
  • Consent – agencies should seek consent to refer from the victim and record this on the DASH. If they do not consent, the case can still be referred if it meets a criteria under UK GDPR i.e.:
    • Article 6 of the UK GDPR covers: Conditions for processing Special Category data WITHOUT CONSENT – Condition 4 Vital Interests applies, IF the processing is necessary to protect someone's life*;
    • Article 9 of the UK GDPR covers: Conditions for processing Special Category data WITHOUT CONSENT – Condition 2 Processing is necessary for the purposes of providing for appropriate safeguards for the fundamental rights and interest of the data subject. The basis for sharing without consent must be clearly indicated on the MARAC referral.
  • Research - All agencies receive a MARAC Case Summary List from the MARAC Administrator 7 days prior to the MARAC meeting. All agencies are required to research all cases and flag and tag their systems (put alerts on) to note that it is a MARAC case and any further information required from practitioners/colleagues should be sought from the MARAC Core Representative for that agency;
  • MARAC Meeting - All agencies should present relevant and proportionate information at MARAC and assist with the implementation of an effective risk management plan ensuring that actions raised are SMART;
  • Follow up - All agencies have a duty to share MARAC actions with relevant colleagues and inform the MARAC Coordinator once actions are completed.

Training in relation to MARAC processes and DASH risk assessment can be obtained for free from IDAS.