Often, in private proceedings concerning child arrangements under the Children Act 1989, persons found to have been the perpetrators of domestic abuse and or violence may be required to undertake domestic abuse and violence work and often that would have resulted in individuals being directed to undertake a “Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programme (DAPP)”, the purposes of which had been to try and help people who either accepted or found to have been the cause of abusive towards their partners or ex-partners to change their behaviour and develop respectful, non-abusive relationships.
Evidence from Cafcass suggests that taking part in DAPP can make a real difference to the lives of those involved, including children who have been affected, but attendance can be challenging and not all persons who enrol on the course and work successfully complete the programme, so often a report is sought at the half-way stage by the Court to consider what if any progress a participant makes during the programme so as to then assist with decision making about whether it is appropriate for that person to spend time with any child concerned.
However, the Ministry of Justice has decided to work towards replacing the existing DAPP with a new programme to better meet the needs of a wider range of families.
Provision under the current contracts will end on 31 March 2023 and the time to complete the programme is typically nine months, therefore only orders received by Cafcass on or before 30 June 2022 can be referred to providers to attend a DAPP until further provision is in place.
At the moment, no alternative has been identified and the Ministry of Justice is working with programme providers and the domestic abuse sector to develop interim arrangements ahead of the new programme being in place.
For parents ordered to undertake a DAPP:
What to expect
The DAPP takes place in face-to-face groups typically involving 8-12 participants. Sessions tend to be weekly and last for between 2 and 2.5 hours over about six months. Every DAPP has a parallel service that supports partners and ex-partners at risk from domestic abuse and this service is offered to them.
The Family Court Adviser will make the referral to the provider – DO NOT MAKE A SELF-REFERRAL.
Whilst any delay is and undoubtedly should be avoided, making a self-referral so as to try and speed the process along is best avoided; Cafcass must instigated the process otherwise the provider will not provide feedback as might be sought by the Court at the half-way stage and this may later than complicate matters.
On the basis of then that referral, the provider delivers the DAPP sessions and will report back to Cafcass on progress and learning, or about any significant safety concerns. These reports form part of Cafcass’ assessments about spending time with arrangements and can be part of the evidence that they provide to court.
There is no charge for Cafcass service users to take part in a DAPP when this is ordered by the court as a ‘court-ordered activity’ in private law cases concerning Child Arrangements Applications.
Please note that the delivery sites listed for DAPP may not be available for all groups all the time, as this will depend on need and availability.
If DAPP is no longer available, what should I do?
The Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programme (DAPP) was withdrawn by the Ministry of Justice in 2022 and so is no longer commissioned or offered by Cafcass.
Without a doubt, in time, another programme of work like DAPP will be developed for use and available for the Court and Family Court Advisers to make referrals to, but in the interim:
- Family Court Adviser’s will continue to on a case-by-case basis carry out their own risk assessment(s) and consider whether supervised arrangements can at all be put in place to allow for safe family time to take place with all options being considered such as whether alternative family members can supervise arrangements (so being then a safeguarding factor), or if perpetrators are involved with probation assess any the risk following the “Building Better Relationship” Course(s).
- As an alleged or proven perpetrator, you should undertake your own research, identify any local domestic abuse and or violence programmes of work available and undertake that work so as to then show a commitment to make and sustain changes to past behaviours, at a later stage then Family Court Adviser can if involved assess the risk as it might be against that completed work.
If you are seeking family time with a child and domestic abuse and or violence has been raised as of concern, then it is always recommended that you seek advice on your case and circumstances at an early stage. If you require further information or would like to make an appointment on any of the issues that might be raised by this article please contact David Banks, Solicitor on 0191 269 6871 or email [email protected] for immediate legal advice and help.
In certain cases, we are able to offer legal aid help and assistance subject to criteria administered by the Legal Aid Agency. For more information as to eligibility please refer to eligibility guidance on the UK Government website
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.