Evaluation of Domestic Violence Matters (A Development Project)

January 1, 1992


This report documents the multi-methodological evaluation of ‘Domestic Violence Matters’ (DVM), an adaptation of a Canadian project – the Family Consultancy Service (London, Ontario) – which involves locating a team of skilled civilian crisis interveners within the police service to follow up police responses to domestic violence. This experimental pilot project located civilian support workers in two police stations in Islington who operated an out-of-hours service for sixteen hours per day, seven days a week. The aims of this service were not only to provide much needed support to victims at their most vulnerable point, but also to enhance the response of the criminal justice system to the crime of domestic violence and to secure better informed and co-ordinated responses from local agencies. These three key aims were the main focus of the evaluation which began when the project went live in February 1993 and continued for a period of 32 months.

Main Findings:

  1. DVM provided crisis intervention responses to 1,236 individuals in relation to 1,542 incidents – 99% of victims were female and 99% of perpetrators were male.
  2. Police record keeping at all levels in relation to domestic violence was found to be neither systematic nor consistent.
  3. Even where an offence was recorded by police, arrest and/or charges occurred in a minority of incidents.
  4. Both a section of the police and some prosecutors work from a presumption that women will withdraw their statements – this tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  5. DVM increased confidence in the police amongst victims and decreased repeat calls.
  6. Women want respectful treatment by, and assertive action from the police – but they do not always receive either or both of these responses.
  7. Most of DVM’s users were not aware of the extent of support they could access from other local agencies, and significant numbers of referrals to these agencies were followed through.
  8. DVM became a valued local resource amongst a number of agencies – its importance locally was attributed to its availability out-of-hours, its advocacy role in working with women and the linking and co-ordination practices it performed.
  9. The initial hostility and wariness to DVM of police officers was converted by the end of the pilot to respectful co-operation.
  10. Management of the project was unwieldy, and because of this at times less effective than it might have been.
  11. The DVM model of crisis intervention is effective, although not in the same way for each individual; the closer the intervention was to the model outline – personalised immediate contact soon after an incident – the more difference it made.

See Research Report: Domestic Violence Matters: An Evaluation of a Development Project

Grant Holder: CWASU

Sponsor: The Home Office Programme Development Unit

  • Project Team:
    Dianne Butterworth, Julie Bindel, Kate Cook, Linda Regan, Liz Kelly, Sheila Burton