90% of violent fathers in close touch with their children

Nearly 90% of fathers guilty of multiple incidents of domestic violence remain in close contact with their children, according to a study of children’s services involvement with domestically abusive fathers, published today.

Children’s social workers are failing to conduct assessments or record information about the parenting capacity of 61% of these fathers, the report said, and only 44% of the case files profiled in the study contained the birth father’s phone number.

“Children’s services are neither assessing fathers as a risk or a resource to their children,” said Cathy Ashley, chief executive of Family Rights Group, which published the report.

“The research found that although most of these fathers did not live with the children’s mother, many had contact with their children. Yet these fathers were not routinely undergoing a parenting assessment or being offered services designed to confront their behaviour.”

Ashley said it was critical that the government invest in effective perpetrator programmes and that social workers increase their direct work with fathers.

The charity has submitted recommendations based on the report’s findings to Eileen Munro’s review of child protection. The Family Rights Group said child protection conferences should ensure that in-depth parenting assessments of those perpetrators in contact with their children are undertaken, informing the child protection plan.

The group also said agencies such as police, health and schools should develop a clear protocol setting out how they work together in relation to domestic violence and children’s safeguarding.

The research also highlighted cases in which the father was a protective factor for the child, pointing to a number of serious case reviews in which the birth father tried to alert children’s services about concerns about the welfare of their child in relation to the mother’s new partner.

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