The DASH assessment tool, used for the establishment of the level of risk that victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence experience, and which was found to produce results no better than random, is to continue being used until another tool is introduced, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Equality said.
“It would be irresponsible to suspend DASH without the introduction of another better tool.”
Recent findings from a study led by the University of Manchester, in collaboration with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, established that “DASH as it is currently used has very poor classification accuracy (no better than random)”.
It was maintained by the Ministry that it would be irresponsible to suspend a tool that produces results no better than random because, “in effect, no risk assessment would be carried out anymore, and hence, no temporary protection orders can be issues either”.
“Such a scenario would severely prejudice the protection of victims of violence.”
Considering that the random results from this mechanism has more than likely prejudiced the protection of both the victims of domestic violence and false accusations, it remains unclear why retaining such a system would help any of the involved parties.
Since its introduction, the DASH system – the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour Risk Identification, Assessment and Management Model – has been the subject of numerous complaints regarding the frequency with which domestic violence cases are assessed as being ‘high-risk’.
For a case to be assessed as ‘high-risk’, it must reach a certain threshold of questions answered in the affirmative – although this rule can be disregarded at the discretion of the Case Officer.
The random results from the current risk assessment system are then used to issue temporary protection order, which themselves have been subject to increased criticism to the point that lawyers mounted a Constitutional challenge to the way in which they are given out.
The temporary protection order system as it currently stands, essentially punishes one party to the dispute without giving it the opportunity to be heard.
According to the spokesperson, “The temporary protection order is effectively provisional in nature and is merely intended to protect the alleged victim from further harm, rather than punish the alleged perpetrator. This without any prejudice to the fundamental rights of the latter, including the right to a fair trial.”
Therefore, the temporary protection orders are issued on the back of a checklist that produces results “no better than random”, and reinforced by the version of events of only one of the involved parties.
Original article found on The Malta Independent