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Cafcass announces new ‘Domestic Abuse Practice Reference Group’


Cafcass is establishing a new practice reference group to further strengthen the quality and impact of work with children and families in family law proceedings where domestic abuse is known or alleged. The group will be co-chaired by the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) and the charity, SafeLives. Membership will include experts and those who have been victims of domestic abuse. In partnership with SafeLives, two specialist advisers have been seconded to help develop and implement the improvement plan associated with the work of the new group.

Cafcass established a Learning and Improvement Board with an associated Domestic Abuse Learning and Improvement plan, in 2020 to consider the implications of the recommendations of the Harm Panel report. This group continues their work and builds on the success of the improvement programme, including the annual practice quality audits and moderations undertaken jointly by Cafcass and group members.  

More information about Cafcass’ Domestic Abuse Practice Improvement programme, and the progress to date, is available here.  

Cafcass Chief Executive, Jacky Tiotto said:

“The experience of living with domestic abuse, harm, violence and coercive control is something that can only be truly understood by victims, survivors and their families. We are determined to work closely alongside experts and people who have these experiences so that we learn and continue to improve our practice in support of children in family court proceedings. I am deeply grateful to the members of our Learning and Improvement Board (particularly the fantastic co – chair team of Angela Frazer- Wickes and Cathy Ashley) for their support and challenge over the past three years and to new members of the practice reference group who are continuing to reflect with us to support the learning and change.

Whilst we can evidence significant progress in understanding the impact of domestic abuse and our assessment of harm and the risk of future harm, we know there is more to do. This is why we are retaining and revising our domestic abuse improvement plan with the support of our SafeLives colleagues and experts. What a privilege that they have been willing to come and be alongside us! Thank you!”

Jo Silver, Director of Quality and Innovation at SafeLives:

“We welcome this commitment to continued improvement at Cafcass and are pleased to be working in partnership with them on common goals such as safety and recovery for those harmed by domestic abuse, particularly children in family court proceedings, sharing the expertise of our secondees and seeing survivors at the heart of the new reference group. 

We’ve been working with Cafcass since the Harm Panel report, because of all of the feedback we’ve had from survivors about the retraumatising effects they had experienced within the family court system.  This is a fantastic opportunity to go further and faster and I thank Cafcass for enabling this to happen.”