Closing date: 21 June 2019

Fully Funded KESS II MSc by Research Scholarship: The Domestic Abuse Stalking and Harassment and Honour-based (DASH) violence risk assessment for police: Analysis of efficacy in practice

Start date: October 2019

*This scholarships is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.*

Over 1 million women and 500,000 men suffered from domestic abuse in the UK in 2018 (ONS, 2018). Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (2014) highlighted the problem of repeat and prolific perpetrators of domestic violence and called on police services to do more to systematically target these offenders. Further, there is a need to understand which, among the many, offenders are likely to perpetrate the most serious domestic violence in the future (this has been termed ‘deadly violence’ – violence that caused, or could easily have caused, death).


The prediction of future violence has received a great deal of scientific interest in the past 25 years (see Gray et al., 2014) with a range of risk factors being identified for violence. In turn, these risk factors have then been used to design instruments that aid the professional to perform a risk assessment to evaluate the chances (or risk) of violent acts occurring in the future.

The Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment and Honour Based Violence (DASH, 2009), Risk Identification Assessment and Management Model was designed to improve police responses to incidents of domestic abuse. However, this model was not firmly based on risk factors that are known to predict either future domestic abuse or deadly violence. Further, there was no piloting of this instrument before its adoption by all 43 Police Forces throughout England and Wales. More recently there has been some attempt at evaluation. Robinson et al. (2016) showed that the use of DASH was rather patchy, with officers often failing to submit the form or altering it after the event. The officers gave great weight to criminal offences committed and any injuries sustained by the victim during the incident in their assessments of risk, rather than adhering to the risk evaluation scheme. The report recommended that a more evidence-based approach is needed and that issues such as coercive control and patterns of abuse need to be better understood in the context of future risk of serious domestic violence and domestic homicide. Nevertheless, the report found widespread support for the use of a formalised scheme for risk assessment from both the police and their partners.

The only quantitative study of DASH completed so far assessed 120 offenders with “deadly violence” (Thornton, 2017). In 55% of these cases, there was no previous recorded contact with the police. Of the 13 murder cases that did have prior contact with the police, none was regarded as “high-risk” according to the DASH risk evaluation. The study concluded that the prediction of deadly violence from previous police contacts does not appear possible at present.

The current project

Given the widespread use of DASH within the police force, it is imperative that its efficacy is established. In this study, we will use historical data gathered by Dyfed Powys Police to examine which factors within the DASH assessment were predictive of future recorded incidents of domestic abuse, including those of “deadly violence”. From this we can establish: (1) if DASH was predictive of future domestic violence; and (2) which elements of DASH were the most predictive.

We will work with key stakeholders: the Vulnerability Desk at Dyfed Powys Police, the Probation Service, and the third sector (e.g. Calan Domestic Violence Services and Welsh Women’s Aid) to evaluate other methodologies of evaluating risk of domestic violence and methods of identifying the presence of coercive control. These methodologies will be triangulated in order to try to improve the reliability and validity of the evaluation and formulation of risk of domestic violence, coercive control, stalking and harassment by front line police officers and their strategic partners.

The research project will also provide an opportunity for the successful applicant to work closely with staff working within the Health & Wellbeing Academy (HWA) at Swansea University. The HWA is an award-winning collaborative project between Health care and University sectors that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people in South West Wales by bringing together innovation, education, enterprise and world leading research. We are excited to include research into improved response and intervention for domestic violence and coercive control under our umbrella of services.

Improved risk assessment and management will bring many benefits to the possible victims of domestic abuse. This will produce savings in health costs, mental health morbidity and traumatic stress, and loss of employment due to the physical and psychological consequences of violence. It may also bring significant benefits to the domestic violence perpetrator in that successful risk evaluation and safety planning should lead to successful intervention, preventing violent offending and improving offender outcomes.

Scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners including SMEs and micro companies, as well as public and third sector organisations. The scholarship provides 1 year funding with a 3 month period to complete the thesis. The achievement of a postgraduate skills development award, PSDA, is compulsory for each KESS II scholar and is based on a 40 credit award.

For more details please see here:

Administrative Contacts & How To Apply

Applicants are strongly advised to contact Professor Nicola Gray regarding information on the area of research by email (

To apply:

  1. Complete the KESS II Participant Proposal Form 2019-20
  2. Complete the KESS II Supplementary Form
  3. You will also need to provide copies of the following documentation:
  • Degree certificates
  • References
  • CV
  • English language certificate (if required)
  • All supporting documentation as detailed in Section C of the KESS II Participant Proposal Form

Please return both application forms and supporting documentation to the KESS office at the address stated on the KESS application form (original ink signatures only).

For any other queries, please contact:

The deadline for applications is 4pm 21 June 2019.

Entry Requirements

Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in an undergraduate degree in Psychology or a related subject. They should also be eligible for UK/EU Fees (see–Advice/Fees-and-Money/Wales-fee-status  for more information).

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit –

For more information on eligibility criteria please refer to section C of the KESS II Participant Proposal Form.

Any queries relating to Section C – Eligibility, please contact

Funding Notes

The studentship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend. The bursary will be limited to a maximum of £11,702 p.a. dependent upon the applicant’s financial circumstances as assessed in section C point 4 on the KESS II Participant Proposal Form.

There will also be additional funds available for research expenses.

Please note that students receiving KESS II support are not eligible for Postgraduate Master’s Degree loan.

Funding Information

Application Deadline:

21 June 2019

Please see our website for how to apply:
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