The Iceland project responds to GREVIO's advice on a strong focus on children and collaboration
In the event of an acute incident of violence in a family, it is important that interventions are directed at everyone in the family - children and adults exposed to violence, children who have witnessed or experienced violence and the people who have perpetrated violence. Therefore, it is important that the relevant authorities cooperate as early as possible.
After an acute violent incident in a family, there are many different social institutions that must cooperate on an operational level. Police, prosecutors, social services, social emergency services and health care can all be involved. The Iceland project started in Gothenburg in 2015 with the aim of developing concrete and effective cooperation between police, prosecutors, social services, social services and health care. The project focused on handling and follow-up at an operational level in acute incidents of violence in families with children.
–In my role as a therapist, I had met many vulnerable children who fell through the cracks, who are not made visible or followed up in the emergency situation. I had heard about Iceland's way of working, where social workers meet the police in the emergency situation, says Carina Eliason, area manager at VKV, the Västra Götaland region's competence center on domestic violence.
Iceland has developed a well-functioning collaboration between the police/prosecutor/social services and healthcare when it comes to violence in close relationships. Iceland's Barnahus has a significant role in crimes against children and children who have witnessed or experienced violence and is an established operation. In May 2015, a Swedish delegation of 22 people traveled to Iceland to take part in their work and the projects being carried out. The delegation consisted of representatives from the police, the Public Prosecutor's Office, Barnahuset in Gothenburg, the social emergency, the city of Gothenburg, the Child Protection Team and the Västra Götaland region's competence center on intimate partner violence. With a national perspective, prosecutors, police and Sweden's municipalities and regions also participated.
–We were on site for three days and processed. Then and there we decided to test a pilot project in Gothenburg, says Carina Eliason.
A working group with representatives from all agencies was put together and a steering group with managers. The working group began by mapping the base line, identifying deficiencies and what needs existed. A model for a Swedish context was then developed. In 2017, the pilot project started operating in the first district, Askim-Frölunda-Högsbo.
The foundation of the Iceland model is that the social emergency/social service collaborates with the police on site, with a focus on the children. The social service/Social services also arranges transport to an emergency center or health center so that a doctor can quickly make a claim documentation
–That a damage documentation is done quickly is a very important aspect for the prosecutor to have a good basis and to be able to bring charges, emphasizes Carina Eliason.
Why is the Iceland model successful?
–With joint efforts from social services, police and health care, the prosecutor gets a better basis and can bring charges. More people can thus be prosecuted for crimes.
–Another important part is that the children are made visible in a completely different way, which is about strengthening the child's legal position. We rally around ensuring that children are allowed to grow up without violence. Children who witness or are exposed to violence have the right to information and participation. We do this by coming in early, providing support measures that mean that children do not have to grow up with violence. All children have the right to grow up without violence.
What challenges have you encountered?
–That all parts of the collaboration must work. The alarm phase, when the police and social services must cooperate on the spot, has worked very well. Motivating damage documentation at a doctor's visit has been a challenge as the plaintiff did not want to. We have also worked a lot on training social workers in why it is so important to have an injury documentation, so that we can discover old injuries that show extensive exposure to violence. Damage documentation is incredibly important, even when there is no visible damage.
What is required for good collaboration?
–That the work is integrated into the existing business and does not become a parallel track. That there is a project management that holds everything together, but also invites participation and makes people feel that they have the opportunity to influence, that the work is done together. Common consensus on what the work should focus on and common target images.
–That the management is involved from the start, adopts a project plan, receives information on an ongoing basis and can make the right decision all the way.
–It takes time! No quick fix, it's taken us five years.
The West Police Agency and all social services in the city of Gothenburg have decided to implement the Islands model in the city of Gothenburg during 2021. The implementation is taking place gradually within the city's district areas, and the first start-up took place in the district area southwest of Gothenburg on May 15, 2021.
The Istanbul Convention and GREVIO's recommendations to Sweden: governance, coordination and cooperation
By ratifying the Istanbul Convention, Sweden has undertaken to provide support and assistance to all girls and women who are exposed to violence and to prevent, prosecute and abolish all forms of men's violence against women. The first pillar of the convention is about taking a holistic approach to men's violence against women, in law, policy and practice.
The recommendations to Sweden are about prioritising and developing more effective interventions, based on collaboration and in-depth knowledge of men's violence against women.
In order to better live up to the convention, GREVIO urges Sweden to, among other things:
Strengthen and institutionalise coordination between all relevant actors
Both in the strategic work and in individual cases, more structured collaboration and better coordination of efforts is needed. Cooperation must include, among other things, the judiciary, social services, health care and civil society.
Strengthen efforts for victims of violence across the country
In order to meet each person's need for support and help, the coordination of the interventions that victims of violence may come into contact with must be improved.
Ensuring a strong children's rights perspective
Therefore, among other things, more resources and joint routines are needed that are based on the rights of the child.
You can find information about how the Iceland project was structured, the purpose and goals of the project, participating businesses and the like in the Iceland project - a description of the project's background and development as well as the businesses' experiences, (PDF in Swedish)
Publication date: 28 July 2022
Last updated: 13 January 2023