Houseresponse

RESOURCES

 

Intimate Partner Violence: Interventions (National Institute of Justice)
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Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges (Andrew Klein, National Institute of Justice)

 

 

 

What are Second Responder Programs?

Second responder programs for domestic and family violence victims involve follow-up efforts with domestic violence victims (and sometimes offenders). Programs often include a home visit by teams of police officers and victim advocates and/or service providers to provide information on services and legal options. The goal of such programs is to reduce subsequent violence by better informing victims of their options and opportunities to leave abusive relationships and receive social services.

 

Victims ideally better understand legal options (e.g. restraining orders) as a result of the intervention. Victims are also supposed to develop a safety plan in the event of another attack, which may include relocating to a shelter or other safe place. The program is also designed to increase victims’ level of independence by providing services such as job training and counseling.

 

Effects of Second Responder Programs on Repeat Incidents of Family Abuse (Robert C. Davis, David Weisburd, Bruce Taylor, Campbell Collaboration systematic review)
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Preventing Repeat Incidents of Family Violence: A Randomized Field Test of a Second Responder Program in Redlands, CA Executive Summary (Robert C. Davis, David Weisburd, Edwin Hamilton, National Institute of Justice)
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Second Responder Programs (CrimeSolutions.gov)

What is the Evidence on Second Responder Programs?

Second responder programs are listed under “What doesn’t work?” on our Review of the Research Evidence. 

 

A Campbell review of second responder programs by Davis and colleagues (2008) suggests second responder programs are not effective in reducing violence. The programs do, on average, lead to a slight increase in reporting abuse to the police, but there is no evidence such programs reduce violent incidents and thus such programs do not seem to have any beneficial impact on crime and disorder. As Davis et al. (2008: 17) note “An increase in calls to the police can be interpreted in one of two ways: Either victims are experiencing more abuse as a result of the intervention, or the intervention has increased confidence in the police.” Victim self-reports indicate no significant reduction in abuse as a result of the programs. It is difficult to determine exactly what the increase in calls for service means, but the results overall are not very positive for second responder programs.

 

One study (Hovell et al., 2006) found significant backfire effects from a second responders program. Domestic violence victims that received a visit by the Family Violence Response Team were 1.7 times more likely to be re-abused than a comparison group that received no special services.

 

Welsh and Rocque (2014) examined harmful effects in criminal justice interventions.  They note that among the 15 outcomes measured in the 10 second responder studies in the Davis et al. (2008) systematic review, only 1 was in a desirable direction, 12 suggested no impact of hte program, and 2 suggested significant evidence of undesirable effects.

Individual Studies from the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix
Not all individual-based studies are second responder studies. The 7 second responder studies are all in the specific, reactive part of the individual slab of the Matrix (the part where the greatest number of individual-level studies are concentrated).

individuals-slabDownload a full list of studies included in the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix

Second Responder Studies from the Evidence-Based Policing Matrix:

 

Author (Year)
Intervention
Casey et al. (2007) Domestic violence victims receiving home visits have significantly less calls for service than comparison group
full-circle
M
F
R
Davis & Taylor (1997) Home visits after domestic violence failed to reduce repeat violence; Public education about domestic violence failed to reduce violence
empty
VR
F
R
Davis & Maxwell (2002) Home visits after domestic violence failed to reduce prevalence or frequency of repeat violence
empty
VR
F
R
Davis et al. (2007) No reduction in subsequent abuse for households that receive second responder within 24 hours or after 7 days
empty
VR
F
R
Stover et al. (2010) Home visit program for domestic violence victims has no significant impact on reported violence
empty
M
F
R
Davis & Medina-Ariza (2001) More elderly abuse incidents and calls to police reported in houses that receive home visit and education; those that receive home visits only call the police more, but don’t report more abuse.
backfire
VR
F
P
Hovell et al. (2006) Those that receive Family Violence Response Team treatment have a 1.7 times greater rate of re-abuse
backfire
M
F
R

 

Result: full-circle =successful intervention; grey-circle = mixed results; empty = nonsignificant finding; backfire = harmful intervention

Rigor: M = moderately rigorous; R = rigorous; VR = very rigorous

Y-axis: F = focused; G= general

Z-axis: R = reactive, P = proactive, HP = highly proactive

Seattle Police car image courtesy of Flickr user Seattleye and used under a Creative Commons license.