Research in Practice

Knowsley suffers a disproportionately high level of Domestic Abuse, and this is reflected in the referrals to Children’s Social care. Unfortunately, Domestic Abuse is also on the rise in Knowsley, the latest available statistics highlight that from the year 2011/2012 to 2014/2015 the number of reported incidents of domestic abuse doubled despite the average crime rate remaining roughly the same.

As a local authority we deal with some of the most serious and significant domestic abuse, resulting in significant risk of harm to children and adult victims. This has led to challenges around assessing and supporting children and families. In addition, there is the additional complexity of generational views and perceptions of what is “normal” and/or “acceptable” based on the experiences of parents and in some cases Grandparents.

This is a problem that has only exacerbated by the recent restrictions, because of the Covid 19 Pandemic. The necessary restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus, provided the environments where domestic abuse was able to thrive, where victims were isolated from family, friends, and support services. Despite attempts to highlight this issue and the work of Local/National Governments and support agencies.

Some of the issues and impacts that we are seeing Nationally and Locally Include Adverse Childhood Effects and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is compounded by the lack of resources in Mental health services to support both children and adults experiencing this. Despite the availability of Mental Health services such as Kooth and IAPT, they are often not able to address the complex and severe impact of the affects of the trauma that our families and children have experienced.

Strategic Briefing:

Research In Practice has developed a Strategic briefing with the university of Bedfordshire and The Children’s Society on the topic of: A public health approach to violence reduction, although not specifically about domestic abuse, it offers an insight into how a public health approach works in addressing Violence. This is a model that has been used in Scotland with success in reducing knife crime by having a buy-in from public facing services to address this issue together, not just Police and Social Services.

Read more: A public health approach to violence reduction: Strategic Briefing (2021) (

Research in Practice resources:

Domestic abuse and child protection – thinking and doing differently

The resources, developed in partnership with the University of Huddersfield and the University of Sheffield, have been produced as part of a Research in Practice Change Project that explored DVA as a key driver of demand in child protection, drawing on international research, practice initiatives and family expertise. The aim is to support fundamental re-thinking of children’s social care responses to DVA in order to develop humane and socially transformative approaches.

Domestic abuse and child protection research digest film series

These six short films are designed to be used to develop practice and strategic understanding of key areas of research evidence in relation to DVA and child protection. Suitable for learning and development across child protection, domestic abuse services and allied professions. Topics covered include: Intersectionality and domestic abuse; typologies of intimate partner violence and risk; working with mothers; working with men and fathers; restorative and whole family interventions; policing and domestic abuse; the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

DVA and child protection: case file analysis

This case file audit formed part of a national Change Project, led by Research in Practice with Professors Featherstone and Morris.

The Change Project emerged from discussions with senior managers and practitioners in local authorities and the third sector which highlighted the urgency of exploring possibilities for ‘thinking and doing differently’ in relation to domestic violence and abuse and child protection. Managers and practitioners expressed an appetite to engage with the international scholarship on risk and understand more about how intersecting inequalities impact upon the challenges and opportunities faced by adults impacted by DVA.


Relevant Legislation:

 The Domestic Abuse Act 2021

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 creates a statutory definition of domestic abuse, and places emphasis on the fact that domestic abuse is not just physical, but also emotional, coercive, controlling and economic. As part of the new statutory definition, children are victims of domestic abuse in their own right.

Domestic Abuse Act 2021: overarching factsheet – GOV.UK


Rachel Horman is a Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment Lawyer, there are numerous podcasts available.

A BBC podcast about Domestic Abuse and Disability – BBC Sounds – Ouch – the cabin fever podcast, ‘I wasn’t allowed to look out of the window’

A podcast about the impact of domestic abuse on children – The Know More Podcast: Children, Domestic Abuse and Mental Health (

Rethinking children’s social care responses to domestic abuse and violence

This co-produced three-part podcast series provides unique insights into complexities of child protection work in the context of domestic abuse and violence, and the challenges with holding perpetrators of DAV to account as part of a children’s social care response. In speaking openly about her own experiences, Ali offers valuable reflections to inform improved working practices and ways of thinking on how children’s social care work with families where there is a perpetrator of DAV.

Local/practical resources:

In an emergency the police should always be contacted first. However, below are some other services that may be helpful:

The First Step – The First Step is a service in Knowsley, which provides people with emotional and practical support either over the phone or face to face. They can provide advice and guidance around legal options, housing and safety planning. The First Step also provide one to one and group support sessions, including The Freedom Programme.

The First Step can be accessed by professionals or by individuals and can be contacted on:

Phone – 0151 548 3333

Website – How to refer – The First Step

The First Step Refuge – The First Step has a domestic violence refuge that can be accessed subject to availability.

This can be contacted via:

Phone – 0151 548 3333

The First Step Independent Domestic Violence Advocates – This service does not accept direct referrals and will only accept cases that have been referred to MARAC first, as this triggers an automatic referral to the Independent Domestic Violence Advocate Service.

Refuge – Refuge is a national service that helps women who are experiencing domestic violence. It offers refuges or safe houses to women both with or without children. They also offer outreach support in the community, independent advocacy and many more services.

Refuge can be contacted via :

Phone (National 24/7 helpline)  – 0808 2000 247

Website (Live Chat available 3pm-10pm) –

Good practice Guidance

BASW England releases new Domestic Abuse Guidance for social workers.

BASW England is pleased to announce the launch of new guidance for child and family social workers supporting victim-survivors of domestic abuse.

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