Cafcass has called for changes to the way Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes (DVPPs) are run.
As the name suggests, these are aimed at individuals who have admitted abusive behaviour towards other family members. Designed to help them change their behaviour, they are delivered via the family courts in private cases and aimed solely at men.
If children are involved, Cafcass may be tasked by judges with referring an individual to a local service delivering the programme in their area, and then assessing their progress. However, if such a referral is included in a final order made in relation to a case, Cafcass is unable to monitor the man’s success or failure on the programme because the organisation has no further involvement in cases after a final order has been made.
This means they will be unable to report to the courts on that particular DVPP and any problems encountered if the family later returns to the courts. This situation can also conflict with a requirement on Cafcass to actively monitor the delivery of DVPPs by local agencies.
In a currently circulating letter, the organisation has therefore suggested that family courts specifically order Cafcass to remain involved when referrals are made as part of final orders. If the father has successfully completed the programme this fact can be included in longer term planning for the child or children’s welfare.