Domestic Abuse, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Forced Marriage & Honour-Based Violence

The UK Home Office defined Domestic Abuse and Violence as any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged  16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. this can encompass, but not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.”

This definition includes so called 'honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.

Whilst this is not a legislative change, the definition will send a clear message to victims about what does constitute domestic violence and abuse. Please click here to read more about the definition.

The Cambridgeshire LSCB is working closely with the Cambridgeshire Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence Partnership to develop an approach to support children & young people affected by domestic abuse in Cambridgeshire.

Domestic Abuse Multi-Agency Guidance

The purpose of this guidance is to: complement existing procedures; raise awareness; and set roles & responsibilities.

Please click here to read more.

DASH Risk Assessment

The SAFE LIVES / FORMALLY CAADA (or ACPO) DASH risk indicator checklist tool is used across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to determine the level of risk following a domestic violence / HBV disclosure. For the latest form for Cambridgeshire please go to and use the Cambs MARAC Referral document.

The purpose of the DASH is to provide a consistent and practical tool to practitioners working with victims of domestic violence to help them identify those who are at high risk of harm. The risk factors included in the DASH are evidence-based, drawn from extensive research by leading academics in the field of domestic homicides, ‘near misses’ and lower level incidents.

Professionals should always attempt to complete the DASH with the victim (and with his / her consent), but if this is not possible, the DASH can be completed and submitted as a MARAC referral on professional judgement alone.

When to use the DASH Risk Indicator Checklist

The checklist should be used whenever a professional receives an initial disclosure of domestic violence, or when a change to risk has been identified. It is designed to be used for those suffering current rather than historic domestic violence / HBV and, ideally, should be used as a rapid response to an incident of domestic violence or HBV. If you are concerned about the risk to a child / children or a vulnerable adult you should make a referral to the appropriate department to ensure that a full assessment of their safety and welfare is made – this may be in addition to (or instead of) a MARAC referral.

 Using an evidence-based risk identification and assessment model always improves the decisions being made. It also increases the likelihood of the victim being responded to appropriately and therefore of correctly addressing the risks they face.

How to use the DASH Risk Indicator Checklist

 The DASH should be introduced to the victim within the framework of your agency’s:

  • Confidentiality Policy
  • Information Sharing Policy and Protocols
  • MARAC Referral Policy and Protocols  
  • Before you begin to ask the questions on the DASH:
  •  Establish how much time the victim has to talk to you?
  • Is it safe to talk now?
  • What are safe contact details?
  • Establish the whereabouts of the perpetrator and children
  • Explain why you are asking these questions and how it relates to a potential referral to the MARAC Whilst you are asking the questions on the DASH:
  • Identify early on who the victim is frightened of – ex partner / partner / family member
  • Use gender neutral terms such as partner / ex-partner. By creating a safe, accessible environment LGBT victims accessing the service will feel able to disclose both domestic violence and their sexual orientation or gender identity       
  • Note: Ideally it is recommended that the DASH risk assessment checklist should be completed with the victim in person. However, it is also possible to complete the risk assessment after a meeting with the victim, using your notes to complete it.
  • You may also, in certain circumstances (such as when the victim minimises / denies the abuse) complete and submit a DASH to MARAC without engaging the victim or seeking consent from the victim.
  • The checklist can be answered using ticks to signify a yes or no response. Practitioners are also encouraged to record additional information that may be relevant.
  • In order to get a comprehensive assessment of risk it is important to ask all of the questions. Without this there is a danger that you may overlook something significant in a case, which may result in your response to be inadequate.
  • The Safe Lives / formally CAADA DASH consists of 24 questions (ACPO is 27), written in a specific order to aid completion. Of these questions, 15 relate to ‘high risk’ indicators. Positive answers to questions on stalking and HBV can also lead to the completion of some additional relevant questions available within the document. 
Outcome of the DASH Risk Indicator Checklist

Following completion of the DASH a victim may be assessed as being at ‘standard’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ risk of serious harm. Those cases assessed as ‘high’ risk (scoring 14+) should always be referred to a MARAC. The ‘high risk’ assessment is determined in the following ways:

  • ‘Visible High Risk’: The number of ‘ticks’ on the DASH Checklist. If you have ticked 14 or more ‘yes’ boxes the case would normally meet the MARAC referral criteria
  • Professional Judgement: If a professional has serious concerns about a victim’s situation, they should refer the case to MARAC. There will be occasions where the particular context of a case gives rise to serious concerns even if the victim has been unable to disclose the information that might highlight their risk more clearly. This could reflect extreme levels of fear, cultural barriers to disclosure, immigration issues or language barriers, particularly in cases of HBV. This judgement would be based on the professional’s experience and/or the victim’s perception of their risk even if they do not meet the criteria above
  • Potential Escalation: There have been 3 or more police callouts to the victim as a result of domestic abuse in the past 12 months. This criterion can be used to identify cases where there is not a positive identification of a majority of risk factors on the list, but where abuse appears to be escalating and where it is appropriate to assess the situation more fully by sharing information at MARAC.It is important to pay particular attention to a practitioner’s professional judgement in all cases. The results from a checklist are not a definitive assessment of risk. They should provide you with a structure to inform your judgement and act as prompts to further questioning, analysis and risk management whether via a MARAC or in another way. 
Discussing the results of the DASH with the victim

Telling someone that they are at high risk of serious harm or homicide may be frightening and overwhelming for them to hear. It is important that you state what your concerns are by using the answers they gave you and your professional judgement.

Equally, identifying that someone is not currently high risk needs to be managed carefully to ensure that the person doesn’t feel that their situation is being minimised and that they don’t feel embarrassed asking for help. Explain that these factors are linked to homicide and serious harm and that if s/he experiences any of them in the future, that they should get back in touch with your service or with the emergency services on 999 in an immediate crisis.

For further guidance on how to respond to cases assessed as ‘standard’ or ‘medium’ risk see below section on responding to the DASH.

Identifying risks to children through the DASH 

The checklist will provide valuable information about the risks that children are living with but it is not a full risk assessment for children. The presence of children increases the wider risks of domestic abuse and step children are particularly at risk. If risk towards children is highlighted you should take immediate action.

Responding to the DASH

The risk assessment will provide you with 3 possible outcomes of risk:


No significant current indicators of risk of SERIOUS HARM.


There are identifiable indicators of risk of SERIOUS HARM. Offender likely to cause

SERIOUS HARM if change in circumstances i.e. failure to take medication, relationship breakdown, substance misuse, if bailed, after court appearance etc).


There are identifiable indicators of risk of SERIOUS HARM. The potential event could happen at any time and the impact would be serious / result in homicide.

The result of the risk assessment will provide you with possible actions to undertake in order to respond to the level of risk identified.

Responding to Standard/Medium risk cases
Standard Risk

Current evidence (from the DASH / professional judgement) does not indicate likelihood of causing serious harm.

  • Provide the victim with contact details for specialist support agencies (see the Cambridgeshire directory of Domestic Abuse Services
  • Ask the victim if they consent to a referral to Outreach services, if yes; make the referral (see the Cambridgeshire Directory of Domestic Abuse Services (above) or contact relevant providers directly)
  • Are there any vulnerable adults involved? Do you need to make an adult safeguarding referral?
  • Consider other agencies that may be a source of support e.g. health professional or substance misuse services and advise victim on how to make contact
  • Advise about Safety Planning If appropriate ensure the victim knows how to contact you. 
Medium Risk

There are identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The offender has the potential to cause serious harm but is unlikely to do so unless there is a change in circumstances, for example, failure to take medication, loss of accommodation, relationship breakdown and drug or alcohol misuse.

 AS ABOVE (in line with standard risk actions) plus:

  • Consider revisiting the DASH at a future date to check on risk / potential escalation. 
Responding to high risk cases

There are identifiable indicators of risk of serious harm. The potential event could happen at any time and the impact would be serious.

 AS ABOVE (in line with standard and medium), plus:

  • Follow the MARAC Operating Protocol and refer to a MARAC panel for consideration
  • Take any actions available to your agency to protect high risk victims. It is important to remember that risk identification and assessment is not a predictive process and there is no existing accurate procedure to calculate or foresee which cases will result in homicide or further assault and harm. Rather, identification and risk assessment is based on structured professional judgement and is, therefore, not fool-proof.

Barnardo's Domestic Violence Risk Identification Matrix (DVRIM)

The DVRIM includes a system of threshold scales, identifying risk factors and potential vulnerabilities, which enables professionals to; analyse the risks to and safeguard children from domestic violence.

Complicated Matters

A toolkit designed for any practitioner who works with survivors of domestic & sexual violence who are also affected by substance use and/or mental ill-health, and their families. The toolkit is divided into the below sections to help you find the information you need quickly. Each section stands alone, but there are common themes.

Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)

Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) Support is available 24/7 to anyone who has experienced sexual abuse by calling 0800 193 5434

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) opened at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, on Wednesday, December 14.The facility, which will be known as The Elms replaces the Oasis @ Rivergate and provides a dedicated service to all victims of sexual assault by providing them with a safe place to receive medical aftercare, forensic examinations, support and to anonymously report sexual assaults. There will also be dedicated facilities for children and young people including paediatric clinics.

 Services at The Elms will be provided by a partnership including Cambridgeshire Rape Crisis, Peterborough Rape Crisis, Embrace, Peterborough Women’s Aid, Victims Hub, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Mountain Healthcare Ltd. More information about The Elms is available online at The website includes an option to hide the webpage from your browser history to enable survivors to view it without fear.

Useful Contacts

The Cambridgeshire Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership Manager can be contacted at the Cambridgeshire Safer Community Partnership Team at Cambridgeshire County Council by professionals for advice and information.

2nd Floor Babbage House Castle Park Cambridge Cambridgeshire, CB3 0AT

(Tel) 07789920401


01480 847718

Young Persons IDVA

07500 954197


MARAC Co-ordinator

Cambridge Women's Aid

P O Box 302 Cambridge CB1 1EA

Refuge - 01223 460947 Monday to Friday during office hours

Outreach - 01223 361214 Monday to Friday during office hours

24 hr Emergency Helpline - 07730 322098 outside of office hours


Peterborough Women’s Aid

Refuge female only tel: 0845 4103123

SASP (advice and support service available to all Peterborough victims; any age, male or female)

Tel: 01733 552200 / 894455

Helpline: 08454 103 123



Children and Young People’s Service Tel: 01733 669404


National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (24 hr service)


Emergencies Dial 999

Central Referral and Tasking Unit Cambridge Constabulary HQ, Hinchingbrooke Park, Huntingdon, PE29 6NP.

General tel: 01480 428080 Fax: 01480 428129/428130 e.mail:

Cambridgeshire County Council: 08450 455200;

South Cambs District Council: 08450 450 500;

Cambridge City Council: 01223 457000;

Emergency outside of office hours 01223 457457 or 01223 358962;

East Cambs District Council: 01353 665555;

Emergency outside of office hours 07710 978900;

Fenland District Council: 01354 654321;

Hunts District Council: Main reception 01480 388388;

Emergency out of hours 01480 434167;

Peterborough City Council: 01733 747474

National Centre for Domestic Violence  08709 220704;

Emergency helpline  0800 9 702070;

Men’s Advice Line (Male Victims of Abuse): 0808 801 0327

Respect (Male Perpetrators Helpline): 0845 122 8609

Galop (LGBTQ support) 020 7704 2040

No Recourse to Public Funds Network, is a network of local authorities focussing on the statutory response to destitute people from abroad who have no recourse to public funds and who are starting to develop guidance on children and families. 

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence Partnership

Use this website to find information about domestic abuse & sexual violence, including advice leaflets & how to access local services.

Responding Effectively to Violence & Abuse (REVA Project)

This project/study, conducted collaboratively with colleagues from NatCen Social Research, Inequality Agenda and DMSS Consulting, looks at how the long-term effects of violence & abuse on victims-survivors are responded to within the National Health Service (NHS) and specialist voluntary sector support services. Please click here to read more.

Briefing reports can be downloaded via the links below;