Module 6: International standards and legal frameworks in Europe

How guidelines are formed

A maturity model, which will link the level of policy implementation to specific next steps, ensuring a process that will feed frontline practitioners’ perspectives into the policy making cycle, is an important step to combine two worlds: the policy implementation, including formal and operational dimensions and the frontline responder’s view, and the practicability of guidelines.

In the course of the IMPRODOVA project, partners designed a checklist that meets those needs – including a manual that can be taken as a basis for further guideline implementations.

How to use the Policy Maturity Model Checklist

The checklist helps to ensure a continuous monitoring of local implementations.

Below, the dimensions of the checklist are explained in cursive and written as specific instructions for those responsible of the policy maturity model drafting. In some of them, an ideal implementation of the policy is written in red. Both, national and local examples of each dimension are given in green.

Explanation of the checklist

1. Feedback methods
1.1. Check relevant country reports of Human Rights Convention Monitoring Mechanisms (such as GREVIO)

When implementing a policy, gather all information from the related Human Rights Conventions and their monitoring bodies’ reports.

Ideally, the documents can be found in a national, regularly updated database.

National: see the relevant conventions obligating your country, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Elimination on all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OHCHR) and especially, if applicable, The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and Combating Violence against Women (The Istanbul Convention). Check especially the country reporting mechanisms of each Convention.

Local: see above. Also check for national bodies’ recommendations or directions given directly to the entity/entities you are addressing, such as for example National Police Board’s directions to the police forces.

1.2. Include systematic feedback from the grassroot level to the top

Organise regular information gatherings from the grassroot level to the top.

National: organise regular anonymous collection of feedback from the local level. For example, the National Police Board may send out a questionnaire to the local police forces. The questionnaire may include experiences of the personnel of using a specific tool, such as a risk assessment form, to identify factors that may enhance or hinder the effective prevention of domestic violence.

Local: see above. In addition, experiences can be gathered also by interviewing the local professionals.

1.3. Confirm confidential whistleblowing mechanisms, both internal and external

Establish a feedback method within the entity/entities that the policy addresses. Internally, a whistleblower can bring his/her concerns to the attention of the managing level within the organisation. Externally, a whistleblower can bring his/her concerns to light by contacting a third party outside of the concerned organisation, such as the ombudsman.

Ideally, the whistleblowing mechanisms are well established, and their information is being utilised systematically. Furthermore, every police department and social welfare district should have at least one ‘domestic violence liaison officer’ to act as contact person for organisational personnel, NGOs and ministries. The liaison officer could share information and facilitate training in domestic violence but also report to an ombudsman, e.g., about negligence in domestic violence cases, lack of resources or non-fulfillment of required training.

National: most countries have a mechanism for individual concern reporting, such as the ombudsman system or the National Preventive Mechanism, an international initiative under the governance of the UN Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture. However, some countries have specific independent rapporteurs for themes such as violence against women. These mechanisms should be utilised for external whistleblowing. Regularly check the reports of the external monitoring mechanisms in order to gather silent messages of possible concerns related to the services of a specific entity, such as the police. Internally, the whistle-blowing mechanisms should include the possibility of anonymous reporting. After analyses, examination and actions, the information gathered by whistle-blowing mechanism(s) should be shared with relevant audiences and published openly, if publishing is possible without ethical dilemmas. Gathered information should be utilised in training, in raising awareness, improving the organisational performance and in encouraging employees to speak up when needed.

Local: see above. In addition, the services are monitored locally depending on the country. For example, the municipalities responsible for organising/producing/procuring a support service should monitor the level of the service and have both internal and external reporting mechanisms for individual complaints.

1.4. Ensure systematic feedback from NGOs and relevant trade unions

Establish regular meetings/roundtables/hearings of relevant NGOs.

National: whenever planning a national action plan/policy document, NGOs should be included in the process of planning. When following up on the implementation, ministries can organise roundtables with the relevant NGOs. Working closely with NGOs which work with vulnerable groups and with marginalised people (immigrants, refugees, homeless women, sex workers, elderly, victims of honour related violence and disabled people) is recommendable.

Local: NGOs should be included in strategic and practical multi-agency approaches, such as local working groups responsible for preventing violence. Whenever a victim of violence is in a vulnerable situation due to her/his immigration status, disability, age or extreme fear, special attention should, with the victim’s consent, be paid on inviting a competent NGO specialist to the multi-agency meeting in order to meet the victim’s special needs.

1.5. Include the victim’s perspective

Establish a method for hearing from experts by experience, either including them in the implementation process or gathering regular feedback from targets of the policy.

Ideally every year, relevant NGOs and Victim Support Services are invited to give performance feedback of how effectively public authorities have managed to intervene and prevent domestic violence and to assist victims. NGOs and Victim Support Services are also invited to give suggestions on how public authorities can improve these areas.

National: some countries have well-organised groups of experts by experience, which they regularly include in the policy planning and monitoring. This may be done by organising seminars or asking for written statements at several stages of implementation.

Local: on the local level, the services should gather regular feedback from the customers/patients of the service. This should include the possibility of giving feedback and identifying yourself for later follow-up, as well as anonymous input. The gathered information should directly feed to the service development as well as the monitoring of the implementation of the policy.

2. Indicators
2.1. Indicator(s) measuring prevalence

Check for repeated/frequent survey information base à for example number of incidents, prevalence, attitudes, type/severity of injury etc.

Ideally, information systems should be user-proof and enable an individual to only enter correct data in the system. For data accuracy, mandatory classifications should be versatile enough in order to enable the user to enter exact data. Statistical discrepancies should be analysed. Discrepancies and disparities that indicate negligence or malpractice will then be examined.

National: collect and follow information from crime offence reports, criminal justice measures such as restraining orders, regular victim surveys, and health statistics/surveys. Also look into surveys measuring changes in attitudes related to violence or gender roles etc.

Local: follow the number of incidences, for example the local police force statistics, the number of house calls based on violence and hospital/ER-visits with relevant ICD-codes. Also collect possible data from child protection services related to domestic violence.

2.2. Indicator(s) measuring availability of special services/experts

Measure the number of special services/experts available.

National: follow the number and availability of special services for victims, perpetrators and children exposed to domestic violence. Also follow the number of used special services.

Local: see above. Compare your local situation to relevant counterparts, such as best-performing similar-sized local entities. Measure the number of available experts on the relevant fields, i.e., having received specialised training on domestic violence.

2.3. Indicator(s) measuring specific resources

Measure how much specific, both human and monetary, resources are allocated to the function (i.e., policy/service etc.) at hand.

National: measure the amount of resources, allocated to the implementation of the relevant policies analysing the government budget.

Local: see whether domestic violence work has specified resources on the local budget level, i.e., municipality/local police force/health care/social work entity. See, how the relevant services allow the staff to allocate time to domestic violence specified work. See, if specialising in domestic violence is made possible in each relevant entity.

2.4. Indicator(s) measuring human rights-based approach

Base the indicators solidly on the human-rights-perspective in order to avoid national distortions (i.e., the lack of understanding of gendered violence), using external evaluation where available. For the critical understanding of the human rights-based approach to your implementation, see to external/expert legal evaluation of your performance.

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) has developed a conceptual and methodological framework of indicators that can be applied and contextualised at national level. The OHCHR’s conceptual and methodological framework adopts a common approach to identifying indicators of monitoring civil and political rights, and economic, social, and cultural rights.

The framework recommends the development of structural, process and outcome indicators. This configuration of indicators should help assess the steps being taken by states in addressing their obligations – from commitments and acceptance of international human rights standards (structural indicators) to efforts being made to meet the obligations that flow from the standards (process indicators) and on to the results of those efforts (outcome indicators). For more information, see:

National: firstly, see to the recommendations by expert bodies following up on the implementation of relevant Human Rights Conventions. Secondly, see to extracts from peer review such as the UPR. Thirdly, see to findings of national external evaluations of national action plans etc. And fourthly, see to critical expert legal opinions in international sources.

Local: in terms of basing your indicators on the human-rights perspective, see to your national monitoring mechanism reports on the policy performance at hand, such as the ombudsman’s opinions, national bureau level recommendations etc.

3. Dealing with overlaps
3.1. Ensure a systemic and co-ordinated approach

When drafting and planning the implementation of a policy, make sure the approach is systemic, human rights-based and in line with other policies with a similar aim. Policies should be carried out consistently and in a coordinated fashion with a special attention to how different parts relate to each other and the rest of society. Ensure that the chosen approach leads to a combined effect with other policies.

National: when drafting a new policy for the national level, make sure you check other existing policies that relate to your subject, such as other action plans based on Human Rights Conventions or Public Health Promotion.

Local: see above.

3.2. Ensure the existence of open reporting cycles

Ensure that the reporting cycle is as open and accessible as possible, and that data from previous reporting cycles is being accumulated and utilised. Open cycle firstly means, that the individuals responsible for reporting are aware of each other’s and their own responsibilities, thus avoiding double reporting. Secondly, open reporting refers to the responders being aware of the timetables and the bigger picture.

National: publish the reporting cycle plus the actual report(s), thus the individuals responsible for reporting may use the information previously collected and can see where their share of reporting adds to. This also enables the use of the reports for other purposes, such as service development.

Local: when gathering information from the local level, make sure they are aware of the national reporting level.

3.3. Ensure sufficiently frequent reporting cycles

The individuals responsible for reporting should gather information or experiences from the grassroot level of frontline responders, thus making it visible, if resources are too scarce or other problems hinder the implementation.

National: keep the reporting cycle sufficiently frequent. This could mean as frequent as once a year, or, in the case of an action plan, using mid-term evaluation plus a final evaluation. In between the reporting cycles, make sure you gather information from the experiences of the experts as well as grassroot level practitioners.

Local: see above.

3.4. Confirm the existence of a common database

Build an accessible database of the reports gathered.

National: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (or equivalent) is responsible for reporting internationally. It should uphold a database of the national report cycles and their reports.

Local: individuals responsible for local reporting should be made aware of the national database and how to utilise it in their own reporting. When compiling local reports, ideally, they should also be gathered in a database, i.e., that of the Municipality.

4. How are boundaries crossed?
4.1. Ensure the existence of a multi-agency approach on the strategical level

When there are boundaries, make sure to have a mechanism (structures) that enables key persons to meet and plan overarching next steps for implementation together, noting that some steps may be common.

National: establish a multi-agency working group responsible for drafting national action plans and following up their implementation. Such a national structure may already exist based on Art. 10 of the Istanbul Convention.

Local: establish a local multi-agency working group responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of national action plans and other relevant norms on the local level. The strategic planning may include safety planning, local action plans related to combatting domestic violence, awareness-raising etc.

4.2. Ensure the existence of a multi-agency approach on the practical level

National: establish national steering groups for major practical multi-agency solutions, such as SARCs, MARACs etc.

Local: establish necessary practical multi-agency solutions for customer work, such as MARAC teams. Establish local steering groups for supporting the practical multi-agency solutions, which have managing level participation from each relevant entity involved in the practical solution.

5. Theory and practice
5.1. Ensure that policies are turned into practical guidelines/tools

Legal implications need to be turned into something very specific and systematic in order to be fulfilled. Specific tools, such as risk assessment forms, etc., should be part of the daily practice and implanted into the professionals’ routines. Follow-up should be routine, i.e., gathering registered data of the use of the tools. Thus, evidence will also be gathered from the effectivity of the chosen tool.

National: make sure, that the major international Conventions as well as EU and national laws are accompanied with clear and practical guidelines when being implemented to the grassroot level. For example, draft a national tool for the implementation of a specific obligation, such as risk assessment.

Local: make sure, that on the local level treatment/support paths of clients/patients are established on the local level such as emergency rooms, maternity clinics, police, educational institutes, asylum centres, etc.

5.2. Ensure that regular training exist on the guidelines/tools

The importance of systematic and built-in training of the use of the specific tool(s) cannot be exaggerated. Even when the use of a specific tool is compulsory, it may deteriorate with time if not overseen by regular training. The danger is, that without adequate training, a tool may be used in a counter-effective manner.

Ideally, all professionals active in the field of domestic violence prevention or intervention, receive a basic training on the necessary guidelines and tools as well as in-depth training during service.

National: make sure that available training exists for professionals being trained at universities or polytechnics, as well as police schools. When possible, make sure the training modules are compulsory. For in-service training, create training materials available for all relevant professionals, such as e-training platforms.

Local: enable access for professionals to in-service training on a yearly basis. Make sure the training materials and availability are up to standard. Make sure that regular and systematic training is available for tools being used locally, such as risk assessment forms. Demand that new employees always take the training before using tools in practice.

5.3. Commit the superiors to the use of the guideline/tools

Even with the most effective and specific tools: if the superiors are not committed to the chosen practice, it will not cause the expected results.

Ideally, policies, goals, objectives, and roles are well-defined in the organisations’ guidelines and the superiors are competent to monitor and steer these sectors. Competence consists of knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whereupon the competence and motivation in domestic violence related work has to be taken into account already in the recruitment process of superiors. Furthermore, the entities should have local “centres/hubs of excellence” regarding domestic violence, so that designated teams may specialise in domestic violence cases/issues.

National: make sure that the relevant ministers and other government officials are informed about the level of implementation of each policy. Provide the ministers with regular reporting.

Local: it is of utmost importance, that the management of local entities enable expertise-building and specialising in domestic violence cases, also on the level of management. Another way of committing the superiors to the chosen tools is to involve them into steering groups and strategic planning of their use.

5.4. Ensure the use of existing guidelines/tools on the field

Ideally, domestic violence-related tools, used by the frontline responders, are compatible with one another and with the particular information systems of the authorities. Tools are designed to be user-friendly and to make frontline responders’ work easier and more efficient.

Furthermore, exact guidelines provide practical and specific information. Vague or abstract expressions are avoided as they may describe obligations imprecisely and may cause people to interpret them in different ways. The guidelines should provide practitioners with solutions and specific examples of good practices.

National: measure and follow-up the use of the chosen tools. If the tools are not used extensively and effectively, investigate reasons for this. Based on the results, improve the tools, skills, abilities, attitudes, or professionals’ access to training.

Local: see above. Also, regularly ask for experiences from the use of the chosen tools for development purposes.

6. Specified resources
6.1. Ensure the allocation of specific resources to the implementation

Every action should be accompanied with the financial plan/information on resources and how to implement it. Financial resources should also include human resources. The specific tasks should be incorporated into the task description of specific professions; thus, the normal mobility of labour would not deteriorate professionalism.

Ideally, financial resources should encourage authorities to develop preventive measures. Evaluating the efficiency of preventive actions is difficult and may lead to a situation, where allocated resources are used only to intervene with violence that has already happened. Financial planning should also include and define preventive measures.

National: make sure, that a sufficient amount of resources is allocated to the implementation of the relevant policies analysing the government budget.

Local: make sure that the local level domestic violence work has specified resources on the local budget, i.e., in the municipality/local police force/health care/social work entity. Make sure that the relevant services allow the staff to allocate time to domestic violence-specified work. Ensure that specialising in domestic violence work is made possible in each relevant entity. Ensure that the person per year rate allocated to domestic violence work are actual; for example, in case of absence, a substitute employee is recruited.

7. Maturity presentation
7.1. Confirm the use of a sufficiently nuanced maturity level presentation

Often, the traditional traffic light presentation of maturity levels is too vague. Thus, level(s) of policy maturity could be presented by percentages (of fully implemented). One additional prospect of making the maturity presentation more nuanced is the possibility of dividing one large task into smaller elements and following the implementation of each one separately. Also, possible reporting timetables/acceleration of time frame of reportings could be considered.

National: for example, when looking at the implementation of a required amount of shelter places, first decide what the sufficient number of shelter places is. Then decide on the required distances and accessibility criteria for the required number of places. Thirdly, compare the current situation and see to the percentages by which it meets the chosen criteria.

Local: for example, when looking at cases of domestic violence at the police, see how many of them were referred to support services. When the required number of cases is 100 %, compare the reality to that. Make sure that local area data collection system is the same, so that situations are comparable.

7.2. Include the reporting back to grassroot level

If maturity is pending, a built-in alarm should go off giving signal back to the grassroot level that the implementation is not complete.

Ideally, information should be gathered, where a lack of implementation exists. And, after the alarm goes off, the specific information is fed back to the grassroot level responsible for finalising the implementation.

National: the gathering of information should be incorporated into the policy implementation reporting cycle. Thus, the information from a pending task is being fed back to the national entity responsible for the implementation of the function. For example, when looking at the prevalence of multi-agency co-operation, the availability of the multi-agency risk assessment conferences, MARACs, may imply a decrease in the recognition of domestic violence. Thus, the information will go back to the local level alarming them that the sufficient level of implementation is still pending.

Local: for example, the local multi-agency working group responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of national action plans on the local level should gather data from the local entities, such as hospitals and police stations, on the level of implementation. When the alarm goes off that a task is not completed, for example that a treatment/support path does not exist, the information would be sent back to the entities at hand.

8. Defining “Fully implemented
8.1. Define “Fully implemented” in the policy

What is good enough should be agreed upon prior to drafting the policy document and when reporting, the success rate should be compared to the set level of “fully implemented” (i.e., in the form of numeric indicators). Typically, “Fully implemented” should be a combination of numeric and areal attributes.

Ideally “Fully implemented” should be a living and flexible concept: when knowledge on the topic increases, the understanding of what is “Fully implemented” may be redefined.

National: for example, when looking at the full implementation on the policy of having a sufficient number of rape crisis center places available, firstly, a criterion should be decided, as to what are the numeric indicators of fully implemented (how many places, where they should be located as to be accessible enough to match the geographic realities).

Local: for example, if the policy at hand is about the improved recognition of violence in the maternity clinics, the state of “fully implemented” could be measured by asking the clinics on which percentage of cases they have performed universal screening of domestic violence.

For example, the Istanbul convention For example, the Istanbul convention obligates that the parties shall provide or strengthen appropriate training for the relevant professionals dealing with victims or perpetrators. For instance regarding the police forces, this policy is fully implemented when all the police officers who work with clients have received training.

For example, the risk assessment by the police should be mandatory for every case of domestic violence. When the amount of conducted risk assessments equals to reported cases with classification of “domestic abuse”, the policy of conducting risk assessment can be considered as fully implemented.

Policy Maturity Model Checklist

1. Feedback methodsYesIn process
1.1. Check relevant country reports of Human Rights Convention Monitoring Mechanisms
1.2. Include systematic feedback from grassroot level to the top
1.3. Confirm confidential whistleblowing mechanisms, both internal and external
1.4. Ensure systematic feedback from NGOs
1.5. Include the victim’s perspective
2. Indicators
2.1. Are there indicators measuring prevalence
2.2. Are there indicators measuring the number and availability of services
2.3. Are there indicators measuring concrete resources
2.4. Are there indicators measuring the Human rights-based approach
3. Dealing with overlaps
3.1. Is the approach systemic and coordinated with a combined effect with other policies
3.2. Are the reporting cycles sufficiently open to the parties
3.3. Are the reporting cycles sufficiently frequent
3.4. Is there a common database of previous reports
4. How are boundaries crossed?
4.1. Is there a multi-agency approach on the strategical level
4.2. Is there a multi-agency approach on the practical level
5. Theory and Practice
5.1. Are the policies turned into practical guidelines/tools
5.2. Is there regular training on the guidelines/tools
5.3. Are the superiors committed to the use of the guideline/tools
5.4. Are the existing guidelines/tools being used on the field
6. Specified Resources
6.1. Are there specific resources allocated to the implementation
7. Maturity presentation
7.1. Is a sufficiently nuanced maturity level presentation being used
7.2. Is reporting back to grassroot level included
8. Defining “Fully implemented
8.1. Is “Fully implemented” defined in the policy

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