Information for professionals - Domestic abuse

Risk Assessment

When someone is suffering domestic abuse, it's vital to make an accurate and fast assessment of the danger they're in, so they can get the right help as quickly as possible. The Safe Lives DASH (domestic abuse, stalking and 'honour' based violence) risk checklist is a tried and tested way to understand risk. It is based on research about the indicators of high-risk domestic abuse.

The DASH risk checklist can be used for all intimate partner relationships, including LGBT relationships, as well as for 'honour'-based violence and family violence. It is primarily intended for professionals - both specialist domestic violence workers and other professionals working for mainstream services.

The simple series of questions makes it easy to work out the risk a victim is facing. A high score means the victim is at high risk of murder and/or serious injury and needs urgent help.

Further information, including full practice guidance, can be accessed at Safelives: Practice Support.

Risk is dynamic and can change very quickly. Therefore, it is good practice to review the checklist after a new incident or change in circumstances e.g. leaving or planning to leave a relationship.

If following the undertaking of the DASH risk checklist, a case meets the relevant criteria it should be referred to the MARAC (Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference) via your organisation's MARAC representative or if you don't have one, then directly to the MARAC Co-ordinator:  

At the same time, you will need to make a referral to the IDVA (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) service.

MARACs are regular local meetings where information about high risk domestic abuse victims is shared between local agencies. By bringing all agencies together at a MARAC and that whenever possible the voice of the victim is represented by the IDVA, a risk focused, co-ordinated safety plan can be drawn up to support the victim.