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Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) is a Programme of training and support to improve the response to Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in general practice. It has been proven effective and cost-effective in a cluster randomised controlled trial and in the real-world NHS.

The IRIS Programme provides in-house training for general practice teams, DVA health education materials and ongoing support. Crucially, the programme also provides a direct referral pathway to a named advocate educator (AE) who is based within a local, specialist DVA/VAWG service. The AE is embedded in the work of each practice and becomes a peripatetic member of the practice team. Training is co-delivered by the AE and a clinical lead, who is a local clinician and a champion for IRIS within the practice. The IRIS Programme is commissioned across areas of England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Northern Ireland, where it is delivered by local IRIS teams.

IRISi is a social enterprise established to promote and improve the health care response to gender based violence. A national, not-for-profit organisation, IRISi provides areas with the IRIS model, training package, updates to the training, and support to commission, implement and maintain the Programme.

In 2021, IRISi launched its second intervention, ADViSE, to support sexual health clinicians to identify and respond to women affected by Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) and Sexual Violence (SV).

Here are some of the main findings presented in our latest National Report:

  • Between April 2020 and March 2021, IRIS Programmes have received 4,979 referrals, totalling 25,523 referrals.
  • In the fiscal year ending in March 2021, 6 new sites have commissioned IRIS. While every site is unique, we continue to support each one to increase the identification and referral of Domestic Violence and Abuse to improve the safety of service users.
  • In total, 54 sites have commissioned IRIS since November 2010. There were 39 sites actively referring to IRIS between April 2020 and March 2021. This is the largest number of active sites since the IRIS Programme became commissionable.
  • As per previous years, we have explored patterns in terms of the average number of referrals across all areas after the first referral was made. The number of service users referred is the total at the end of each period, and the first year is split into quarters Q1 to Q4, each composed of 3 months. The broad trend of referrals continues to be increasing, suggesting the IRIS Programme remains effective for more than 10 years.
  • There are currently 1,104 fully trained and actively referring practices. In total, 1,275 general practices have been trained across the UK since 2013.
  • The average age of women referred to IRIS was 40 years old. 52.5% of women referred classified themselves as White British, while 18.2% classified as Black and Asian British, 12.5% Asian and 2.3% Black/Caribbean/African.
  • 97.4% of IRIS referred clients report being heterosexual, in line with previous years. 46.8% of women reported having no children.
  • Compared to last year, there has been an increase in the proportion of women reporting no faith (48% for 20/21 compared to 43% in 19/20). Additionally, 24% reported being Christian while 22% were Muslim.
  • More than 1 in 4 women referred to the IRIS Programme reported physical health problems (27%). On average 54.3% of services users reported mental health concerns.
  • The most frequent type of abuse experienced by service users was emotional abuse (43.5%), followed by physical abuse (37.6%) and psychological abuse (37.2%).  More than 3 in 4 women (77.3%) experienced multiple forms of abuse.
  • Service users disclosed that the vast majority of perpetrators of abuse (90%) were current or former partners/spouses. There is a fairly even split between current partners and spouses and ex-partners and spouses.
  • Throughout the year, most women were supported remotely (68.5%), although face-to-face support began being offered again in line with government guidance. In total, just 67 women were supported in-person (1.4%), while 939 women accessed both in-person and virtual support (21.4%) – a blended approach.
  • The most frequent type of support provided to service users was emotional support (37%), followed by advice and information (26%).

To read the National Report in full, please click below:

>> Click here

Related Articles

Find your nearest IRIS site

The IRIS Programme provides specialist advocacy and support to patients registered at IRIS-trained practices who have experienced domestic abuse.

Find your IRIS site



AVA is an expert, groundbreaking and independent charity working across the UK.

Their vision is a world without gender based violence and abuse. They aim to  inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage and enable direct service providers to help end gender based violence and abuse particularly against women and girls.AVA’s work is focused around those areas where they can make the best contribution to ending violence and abuse. They do this by making sure that survivors get the help and support they need in the here and now, through providing innovative training that has a proven direct impact on the professional practice of people supporting survivors of violence and abuse

developing a range of toolkits, e-learning and other material that supports professionals to provide effective and appropriate support to survivors of violence and abuse

using our influence and networks to ensure survivors voices are heard. We work closely with AVA in many areas including the Pathfinder project



SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. SafeLives are members of the Pathfinder consortium.



Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation. We are the only national second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls i.e. women and girls which are defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME). The organisation holds nearly two decades of experience of working around issues such as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence.

They work at local, national and international level, and in partnership with a range of organisations, to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls. Imkaan works with it’s members to represent the expertise and perspectives of frontline, specialist and dedicated Black and minoritised women’s organisations that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Imkaan delivers a unique package of support which includes: quality assurance; accredited training and peer education; sustainability support to frontline Black and minoritised organisations; and facilitation of space for community engagement and development. They are a part of the Pathfinder Consortium.


The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.  It is part of Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

A dedicated team of researchers at the Centre work on domestic abuse projects and IRISi is a co-collaborator and partner on some of these projects including ReProvide, HERA and DRiDVA.

The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. The Health Foundation’s Exploring Social Franchising programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the potential of social franchising models for scaling effective health and social care interventions within the NHS.

We are one of four project teams participating in the programme to develop a social franchise to enable the sustainable spread of our intervention, the IRIS Programme. We receive funding and support from the Health Foundation, including technical expertise on social franchising, and attend programme learning events. The Health Foundation has also commissioned a programme-wide evaluation to support understanding of the use of social franchising in the UK health and care system. We and our franchisees will support the evaluation through co-designing data collection requirements, providing access to data as requested, hosting site visits and attending learning events.



Standing Together Against Domestic Violence is a UK charity bringing communities together to end domestic abuse. They bring local services together to keep people safe

Most public services weren’t designed with domestic abuse in mind, and they often struggle to keep people safe. Poor communication and gaps between services put survivors at risk.

STADV aim to end domestic abuse by changing the way that local services respond to it. They do this through an approach that they pioneered, called the Coordinated Community Response. The Coordinated Community Response brings services together to ensure local systems truly keep survivors safe, hold abusers to account, and prevent domestic abuse.

Their model of a coordinated local partnership to tackle and ultimately prevent domestic violence is now widely accepted as best practice. They are also a part of the Pathfinder consortium.


Spring Impact
Spring Impact
Spring Impact

Spring Impact is a not-for-profit social enterprise born out of the frustration of seeing social organisations constantly reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources. Spring Impact uses a combination of tested commercial and social principles and extensive practical expertise to support organisations to identify, design and implement the right social replication model to scale their social impact.

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