If you’re being assessed by CAFCASS, we’d love to hear what it’s like for you. Is it going well or badly? Is it helpful and how has it helped? Are you finding it hard and if so why? What do you make of what you’re going through? We especially want to hear from people who have experienced a DAPP and whether it’s been positive or not. Has contact been safe after this intervention?
We are keen to help you through the process and with our years of experience working in the family court (Jill as a solicitor and George as an expert witness) we may be able to give useful advice.
In the new year we will be launching a new podcast which will focus on real life cases based on what people tell us. Of course, as professionals, we will respect the key issues of privacy and confidentiality but we want to help you and others by sharing real life experiences.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programme: DAPP
The DAPP aims to help people who have been abusive towards their partners or ex-partners to change their behaviour and develop respectful, non-abusive relationships. It is run for CAFCASS by independent providers (see the Directory of Providers). CAFCASS says that a DAPP can make an important difference to the lives of those involved, including the children but it can be challenging. The court’s decisions about contact will be based on the progress made in the programme.
CAFCASS assesses people’s suitability for the programme and checks whether it is available locally.
What to expect
The CAFCASS Family Court Adviser will make the referral to a DAPP if a court order is made. The provider delivers the DAPP sessions and reports back to CAFCASS on progress. CAFCASS reports to the court on changes in the level of risk posed by a participant.
The DAPP works with groups of 8-12 participants to give an opportunity to learn from and support each other. Sessions are weekly or fortnightly, outside working hours, and last between 2 and 2 1/2 hours over about six months. The number of sessions varies between providers but the average number is 28. Participants need to attend the whole course to prove their commitment to changing their behaviour. Every DAPP has a parallel service, running alongside it, that supports partners and ex-partners at risk from domestic abuse. CAFCASS says that these are run by a Women’s Support Service (CAFCASS clearly considers that support will invariably be only for women!).
There may be other people in the DAPP group who are there on a voluntary basis, working with a local authority, or ordered to attend by a different court.
There is no charge to take part in a DAPP when it is ordered by the court in private law cases as part of Child Arrangements Applications.
When is a DAPP appropriate?
Suitability to take part in a DAPP is assessed by CAFCASS and the DAPP provider. It depends on being ordered by the court. Participants are suitable if:
- There is a pattern of acknowledged or proven domestic abuse;
- The abuser is able to accept responsibility for the abuse in the relationship and shows a willingness to change their behaviour;
- The level of risk is not too high and is such that, upon successful completion of the course, safe and beneficial contact with children is a realistic aim;
- A participant is ready and able to work in a group.
In order to attend the programme participants must:-
- Sign a consent form to allow the DAPP provider to share information about them with their victim and/or partner;
- Accept that CAFCASS will be in contact with the police and local authority and other appropriate parties;
- Stop being violent or abusive to anyone, especially a partner or ex-partner and any children involved;
- Arrive on time and complete all sessions in full;
- Take part in the group sessions;
- Arrive with a clear head and not under the influence of drugs, alcohol or solvents;
- Treat tutors and other group members with respect;
- Respect the confidentiality of other participants.
How does the course run?
There is usually some introductory work to prepare for the group sessions.
The course is often arranged in modules on particular themes that help participants to:-
- Learn about the effects and consequences of domestic abuse on a partner and family;
- Participate in group sessions with other individuals who have behaved in a similar way;
- Talk openly about their behaviour and the people affected by it;
- Identify the beliefs and attitudes which underpin their violence and abuse;
- Cope with their own and other people’s behaviour and feelings in difficult situations;
- Learn how to react without being abusive;
- Learn about respect and responsible parenting;
- Learn to understand and want to change their behaviour.
Feedback to CAFCASS
DAPP staff do not make any decisions about arrangements for children. They report back to CAFCASS during and on completion of the programme to inform them of progress, or of any significant safety concerns that may have been identified. These reports form part of Cafcass’ assessments about contact and will be part of the evidence which they provide to court, before the court decides about arrangements for children.
For our impressions of the DAPP read https://www.myonrecord.com/blog/cafcass-the-blind-leading-the-blind/