Collaborating to Identify Risks and Increase Safety
Interagency Case Assessment Teams (ICATs) are made up of responders to high risk domestic violence and often include (but are not limited to) a representative from community based victim services, police based victim services, health, crown counsel, aboriginal service providers, and other agencies that respond to domestic violence. ICATs work to appropriately share information through coordinted risk identification, management and safety planning. The benefits of ICAT include better identificatin of risk factors, proactive supports to victims and offenders, elimination of systemic barriers to safety, reduction in service duplication, fewer removals of children, and an overall reduction in domestic violence offences.
The British Columbia Context
Through their expert testimony in the Lee Inquest and as co-authors of the Keeping Women Safe Report, Community Coordination for Women’s Safety (CCWS) and Ending Violence Association of BC (EVA BC) made submissions and provided briefing materials to government and the Coroner’s Office on the urgent need for a high risk provincial domestic violence protocol. In 2010, the Violence Against Women in Relationships (VAWIR) Policy was amended and the new policy included a protocol for highest risk cases.
With the 2010 changes to the VAWIR policy, there was clear direction to share information across sectors and work collaboratively on responding to domestic violence. The policy reinforces existing legislative authority for information sharing.
Under the policy, once a domestic violence case is identified as highest risk by police, the protocol and its enhanced provisions for information sharing come into effect. To facilitate an effective and co-ordinated justice and child welfare system response, and protect the victim and others at highest risk for violence or death, timely sharing of information is required between police, Crown counsel, corrections staff (i.e. bail supervisor and/or probation officer), the victim service worker, and child welfare worker.
Since 2010, many BC communities have been developing interagency case assessment teams (ICATs) that are working to increase safety for those at highest risk for serious bodily harm or death. CCWS has been supporting communities across the province to develop the foundation and tools to move forward on this work together.
One of these communities is the very successful North Okanagan Violence Against Women In Relationships (VAWIR) Committee’s North Okanagan Integrated Case Assessment Team (NOICAT)4. In addition to NOICAT’s ground-breaking work at the local level, they are also working with CCWS to share their expertise with other communities. CCWS and NOICAT have been responding to requests from many communities and all regions of BC to provide training, information, resources and support for ICAT initiatives.
Development of Best Practices
As the ICATs are developing, members are seeing clear benefits to high risk domestic violence victims and to the agencies involved. At the same time, there is a wide variation in practice, and concerns that lack of consistency, no uniform practice and misunderstandings regarding privacy and ethical conduct will interfere or obstruct with this display of multidisciplinary goodwill and cooperation between the justice system, child welfare, community agencies and anti-violence organizations.
In response to these concerns, the Ending Violence Association of BC’s CCWS program hosted a roundtable on September 24 and 25, 2013, funded by the RCMP’s Family Violence Initiative and the Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division, Ministry of Justice. This meeting brought together the expertise of teams in BC that are currently collaborating to review highest risk domestic violence. The meeting identified best practices related to safety, privacy and records management and will result in a set of best practices to support communities just starting out with these teams and to encourage consistency among existing teams.
Interagency Case Assessment Teams Best Practices: Working Together to Reduce the Risk of Domestic Violence
Released in July 2015, this guide was developed over a two-year period by the ICAT Best Practices Advisory Team including representatives from Ending Violence Association of BC, BC Ministry for Children and Family Development, BC Ministry of Justice, BC Provincial Office of Domestic Violence, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Saanich Police Department and the Victoria Police Department. Download (pdf)
CCWS/EVA BC Webinar: Interagency Case Assessment Teams and Identifying Highest Risk Domestic Violence
To view this Webinar click on ICAT Webinar. From this new page, you will have the option of downloading the Webinar by clicking Download, located in the upper left on the menu bar. Please note that the presentation features many embedded audio clips that may take some seconds to load between slides.
The webinar was produced as a tool for community partners to learn about the ICAT model for addressing highest risk domestic violence and the evidence based factors used to detect lethal violence. The slide presentation is coupled with audio clips of key resource people.
- Gail Edinger, CCWS Regional Coordinator
- Sgt. Robb Daly, Rural Operations NCO Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP Detachment
- Debby Hamilton, CCWS Regional Coordinator
- Tracy Porteous, Executive Director, Ending Violence Association of BC, EVA BC
- Gisela Ruebsaat, CCWS Legal Analyst
- Les Rose, Counsel, RCMP E Division Legal Advisory
- Katie Watters, Program and Family Violence Coordinator, RCMP Victim Services, Salt Spring Island
We would like to thank our sponsor, the Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division, BC Ministry of Justice.
ICAT (Interagency Case Assessment Team) Orientation Presentation
- To view and edit the presentation, please click the following link: ICAT Orientation Presentation.