MEASUREMENT OF ‘RISK’
Estimates of the incidence and prevalence of family and domestic violence can be made from a number of data sources, such as police records, child protection agencies and support services. However, measurement of ‘the size of the problem’ is problematic due to the different pathways a reported offence may take through the criminal justice system, and attrition in the numbers of incidents and people counted at several points in a sequence of events. Measurement is also challenging when multiple services are accessed by a victim or perpetrator, whether that be within a sector (e.g. multiple health services), or across sectors (such as when a perpetrator is dealt with by the criminal justice system and the health system). For this reason, developing an accurate measure is difficult when using administrative data to indicate risk through uptake of services. Finally, it is recognised that gaining a measure of the prevalence and effects of these risk enhancing or protecting attributes is complex, and identification of specific target groups that are at risk is difficult as FDV affects all cross-sections of society. Despite these difficulties, it remains important from a research and service provider perspective to maximise data about target groups so as to better target interventions, education programs and supports and support evaluation.
Victimisation surveys provide the most comprehensive measure of the prevalence of FDV, capturing information about people who have experienced FDV regardless of whether they have reported the incident(s) to police or other services. Some information about perpetrators can also be collected via this method. Official surveys generally only ask questions about FDV of adults, and some are more comprehensive sources of FDV information than others. These sources are likely to be less useful for identifying specific risk-enhancing or mitigating factors. Additionally, specific case studies may not be appropriate for collecting data in this area.