Domestic Violence Response Unit (DVRU)

Program snapshot

Age group: Not age specific

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Adult offenders; Families; Victims of crime

Topic: Family (domestic) violence/child maltreatment; Recidivism

Setting: Urban area; Criminal justice setting; Social services setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

In 2010, the High Level Community Policing Society, in partnership with the local RCMP detachment, North Peace Tribal Council Child and Family Service, and Northwest Alberta Child and Family Services Authority, received funding to address the high level of domestic violence in the region. 

The proposal was for a comprehensive and coordinated team response to an issue characterized by repeat offences, alternation of roles between victims and offenders, and a close association with alcohol abuse. Those involved in domestic violence are often a highly disadvantaged group reflected in low education, employment, and income levels.

Participants enter the program after police respond to a domestic violence incident or through referrals from child welfare authorities, community agencies, or self-referrals. A coordinated response could include, for example, police patrols at the house, victim therapy, and support at court as well as supervision ordered through child welfare to protect the children.

Goals

The main goals of the Domestic Violence Response Unit (DVRU) are to:

  • Enhance the safety of victims of domestic violence;
  • Decrease the re-occurrence rates of domestic violence;
  • Provide a comprehensive and coordinated team response to children and families (victims) at risk of domestic violence and perpetrators of such violence, through a collaborative response between the High Level RCMP, High Level Community Policing Society, North Peace Tribal Council Child and Family Services and Northwest Alberta Child and Family Services;
  • Provide perpetrators and victims of domestic violence access to therapy and specialized programming;
  • Increase the quality of the testimony that victims provide in court (no recanting testimony), and greatly decrease the number of victims who don’t show up for court;
  • Increase public awareness about healthy relationships and domestic violence, in order to change attitudes and norms and create strong communities in which domestic violence has no place; and
  • Assist communities to create informal, culturally-synergistic support networks of healthy, caring individuals.

Clientele

The appropriate clientele for the DVRU are victims, offenders, and children involved in domestic violence. Participants enter the program after police respond to a domestic violence incident or through referrals from child welfare authorities, community agencies, or self-referrals.

Core Components

DVRU employs a comprehensive integrated team response to families and children at risk of domestic violence, including:

  • An RCMP officer dedicated to domestic violence cases that provides safety planning and support to victims, and monitors offender compliance with release conditions;
  • Individual and group counselling for offenders;
  • Supported therapy for victims; and
  • Mutual referrals and coordinated case planning between the DVRU and child welfare authorities.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization should:
    • Thoroughly research the salary requirements and feasibility of recruiting people with a certain level of expertise and build an HR plan taking these into account;
    • Devote time at project inception to developing a governance structure with clear responsibilities for Board and staff;
    • Spend time with partners at the beginning to determine how best to work together. Provide mechanisms to ensure that communication with partners is regular and ongoing, and that issues can be addressed as they arise;
    • Ensure that the project vision, service delivery model, policies and procedures are well documented, so that continuity can be provided when there is turnover of staff and/or Board;
    • Where relevant (i.e., projects involving the RCMP), acknowledge and try to minimize the time required for security clearances through addressing factors within the control of the detachment, and develop contingency plans for staff until clearances are obtained; and
    • Plan well ahead for how the project will be sustained once the time-limited funding has ceased.
  • Partnerships: Collaboration between the High Level RCMP, High Level Community Policing Society, North Peace Tribal Council Child and Family Services and Northwest Alberta Child and Family Services.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

DVRU was implemented in Edmonton (Alberta) from April 2010 to March 2013. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on DVRU. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio is 2.49:1. This means that over three years, the social value created for investing in the DVRU project is $2.49 for every dollar invested; and
  • Social value was created by avoiding the criminal justice system expenses associated with the domestic violence call and an avoided homicide; and avoiding children service’s involvement including the cost of a home placement and investigation, costs of addiction on social/health system.

References

Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Domestic Violence Response Unit (DVRU). Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries

For more information on this program, contact:

S/Sgt. Peter Pilgrim
Telephone: (780)926-3013
E-mail: peter.pilgrim@rcmp-grc.gc.ca


Record Entry Date - 2018-02-21

Date modified: