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Recent intimate partner violence against women and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies

Public health


Recent intimate partner violence against women and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies


  1. Loraine J Bacchus,
  2. Meghna Ranganathan,
  3. Charlotte Watts,
  4. Karen Devries

Author affiliations

  1. Department of Global Health and Development, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

  1. Correspondence to Dr Loraine J Bacchus;


Objective We reviewed cohort studies to determine the magnitude and temporal direction of the association between recent intimate partner violence (IPV) and a range of adverse health outcomes or health risk behaviours.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods Medline, EMBASE and PsycINFO were searched from the first record to November 2016. Recent IPV was defined as occurring up to and including the last 12 months; all health outcomes were eligible for inclusion. Results were combined using random-effects meta-analysis.

Results 35 separate cohort studies were retrieved. Eight studies showed evidence of a positive association between recent IPV and subsequent depressive symptoms, with a pooled OR from five estimates of 1.76 (95% CI 1.26 to 2.44, I2=37.5%, p=0.172). Five studies demonstrated a positive, statistically significant relationship between depressive symptoms and subsequent IPV; the pooled OR from two studies was 1.72 (95% CI 1.28 to 2.31, I2=0.0%, p=0.752). Recent IPV was also associated with increased symptoms of subsequent postpartum depression in five studies (OR=2.19, 95% CI 1.39 to 3.45, p=0.000), although there was substantial heterogeneity. There was some evidence of a bidirectional relationship between recent IPV and hard drug use and marijuana use, although studies were limited. There was no evidence of an association between recent IPV and alcohol use or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), although there were few studies and inconsistent measurement of alcohol and STIs.

Conclusions Exposure to violence has significant impacts. Longitudinal studies are needed to understand the temporal relationship between recent IPV and different health issues, while considering the differential effects of recent versus past exposure to IPV. Improved measurement will enable an understanding of the immediate and longer term health needs of women exposed to IPV. Healthcare providers and IPV organisations should be aware of the bidirectional relationship between recent IPV and depressive symptoms.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42016033372.

  • substance misuse
  • public health
  • mental health

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

Ireland’s prison: Interagency working and three initiatives for improved outcomes

An article by Jane Mulcahy, an Irish Research Council funded PhD scholar in Law at University College Cork, co-funded by the Probation Service. Her employment partner is the Cork Alliance Centre, a desistance project in Cork City. The views expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not represent those of the Irish Research Council, the Probation Service, or the Cork Alliance Centre. 

Ireland’s prison population increased by 400% between 1970 and 2011.  Between 1997 and 2011 Ireland’s prison population doubled. In its 1997 election manifesto the Fianna Fáil political party declared war on crime, pledging to “adopt a zero tolerance policy on all crime” and to create 2,000 more prison places. On the 22 of July 2011, a total of 5,479 prisoners were in the prison system, with a further 612 on temporary release (TR).

On 16 February 2017, there were 4,142 prisoners in the system, including 263 on TR. Of the number on TR, 43 people were on the Community Support Scheme, 61 were on Community Return under Probation Supervision and 58 were on “Other temporary release including under probation supervision”.

According to the IPS Annual Report 2016, 90.4% of all committals under sentence were for less than twelve months in 2016. Those serving long sentences face greater rupture to their familial and other relationships than short sentence prisoners. On the other hand, more can arguably be done with long sentence prisoners as regards constructive sentence planning and providing opportunities for personal development in prison.

In recent years the Irish Prison Service (IPS), in partnership with the Department of Justice and Equality, third sector organisations and other Criminal Justice Agencies (CJAs), namely the Probation Service and An Garda Síochána, has developed three welcome initiatives to engage with different cohorts of prisoners. All of the initiatives have a post-release supervision or support component, as well as a strong focus on interagency working.

The Community Support Scheme (CSS) provides post-release support to people serving sentences under twelve months. Under the Community Return Scheme (CRS) suitable longer sentence prisoners swap prison time for unpaid Community Service. The Joint Agency Response to Crime, involves the intensive case management of carefully selected prolific offenders by the CJAs, using a carrot and stick approach.

The Community Support Scheme

CSS is an early release program for prisoners serving sentences of less than twelve months in prison. Prior to its development as an IPS pilot project with Cork prison and the Cork Alliance Centre in April 2013 and subsequent roll-out to other prisons, many short sentence prisoners were released with little or no warning on TR, often at the weekend, with no community supports and perhaps no money or safe place to stay.

The third sector plays a crucial role in the operation of CSS. Before release, a support worker from a community based organisation meets with prisoners serving less than a year in prison to see if they may wish to engage with the programme and avail of structured support upon release. Prisoners may, of course, decline the offer of support. For instance, they may view participation in CSS as too onerous on them if they live in the countryside and would be reliant on public transport to sign on daily at a specified police station. If prisoners opt out of CSS, they will stay in prison until their remission date.

Prisoners who avail of the scheme, develop a post-release plan with their support worker. Following a pre-release consultation regarding their suitability, willingness to participate and risks/needs analysis (homelessness, addiction, psychosocial disorder etc.), they can be released at any point in their sentence. The primary aim of CSS is to provide practical support and structure in the difficult days and weeks after release.

The TR conditions specify that CSS participants must attend weekly meetings with their support worker in community for a period of time. CSS participants will be returned to custody if they breach the terms of their TR. When they return to the prison to sign on each week, they may be refused a further period of TR and held at the prison. This could happen if they are no longer welcome at the family home in order to meet the residence requirement in their release conditions or have relapsed on drugs and are considered to be a danger to themselves.

The Community Return Scheme

The Community Return Scheme (CRS) won a runner up award for innovation at the Confederation of European Probation Awards 2016, for outstanding contribution to rehabilitation.

In April 2011, following a commitment in the Government Programme for National Recovery about the planned super prison (the Thornton Hall Prison Project) on a green field site in Dublin, the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter set up the Thornton Hall Review Group to review the plans, and to make recommendations on the twin problems of overcrowding and poor physical conditions. In July 2011, the Review Group recommended that “the Minister for Justice and Equality should introduce an incentivised scheme for earned temporary release coupled with a requirement to do community service under supervision.”

A pilot CRS was launched in October 2012 and commenced in November 2012 in line with the recommendations of the Thornton Hall Project Review Group. Prisoners who are serving sentences of between one and eight years’ imprisonment, may be released at the half-way point of their sentence instead of getting normal remission at the three-quarter point.  Under the scheme, people do a week of community service in exchange for extra remission of one month. Essentially, they “swap prison time for time in the community paying back through unpaid work”, such as graffiti removal, landscaping or breaking pallets for kindling. Reportedly, 90% of CRS participants successfully complete the scheme.

The Joint Agency Response to Crime

The Joint Agency Response to Crime (J-ARC) was launched in November 2015 and is the Irish adaptation of IOM. The three Dublin-based J-ARC pilot projects were established to provide for “co-ordinated and enhanced levels of co-operation and co-ordination between An Garda Síochána [the Irish Police Service], the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service”. They work with different groups of prolific offenders, namely:

  • STRIVE operates in the Ballymun area of Dublin, focussing on “quality of life” offences, such as issues relating to drugs consumption, public order and criminal damage and in the locality.
  • The ACER 3 project works intensively with burglars in certain postal codes who were identified by the police Analyst as being the most prolific burglars in the area.
  • The “Change Works” programme run by the Bridge Project intervenes with high risk violent offenders and adopts a strengths-based, integrated case management approach.

In September 2016, several new J-ARC projects targeting prolific offenders in Waterford, Dundalk and Limerick were announced. In June 2017, the Youth Agency Response to Crime (Y-JARC) was launched for problematic young offenders in Cork and Dublin. According to the CJAs, there are palpable benefits to interagency working and swift, systematic data sharing about breach of release conditions, risks relating to drugs relapse or the acquisition of fresh charges in terms of prompt decision-making and immediate consequences.


Prior to 2011, the IPS was constantly in fire-fighting mode, struggling to cope with chronic overcrowding and poor physical conditions. At this time there was no real, sustained effort on the part of the CJAs to adopt either an intelligible, evidence informed penal policy, or a “whole of Justice” approach to dealing with offending behaviour, barriers to successful reentry and recidivism. The three schemes discussed above are, therefore, remarkably innovative if only because the CJAs now place greater emphasis on, and see real value in, working together towards achieving common goals.

Council of Europe: Launch of the course on Child friendly Justice and Children's Rights

Children come into contact with the justice system in many different ways. This can be for family matters such as divorce or adoption, in administrative justice for nationality or immigration issues or in criminal justice as victims, witnesses or perpetrators of crimes. When faced with the justice system, children are thrown into an intimidating adult world which they cannot understand. It is therefore necessary to ensure that both access to and the processes within justice are always friendly towards children.

The Council of Europe has developed many legal standards and practical guidelines in the field of child-friendly justice. The most extensive set of standards are contained in the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice. Child-friendly justice for all children is a key priority area of the Council of Europe’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021), which supports member states in strengthening children’s access to, treatment in and participation in civil, administrative and criminal justice proceedings.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that professionals in member states have a comprehensive and professional knowledge of the relevant standards applicable in this area, in particular with respect to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its case-law on child-friendly justice.

The free online course on Child-friendly Justice and Children's Rights was developed as a joint initiative between the Council of Europe Children's Rights Division and the Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) with the primary purpose of strengthening and harmonising the knowledge of the ECHR and other relevant European standards on child-friendly justice across the Council of Europe member states.

There are nine modules:

  1. Introduction
  2. Child-friendly justice
  3. Non-judicial proceedings
  4. General elements
  5. Interactions with children in judicial systems - main challenges
  6. Interdisciplinarity
  7. Deprivation of liberty
  8. Violence against children
  9. Migration and asylum

The course is available on the HELP e-learning platform, upon the creation of an account. The course brief can be downloaded here.

Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2018)


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.


Paula A. Johnson, Sheila E. Widnall, and Frazier F. Benya, Editors


Over the last few decades, research, activity, and funding has been devoted to improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. In recent years the diversity of those participating in these fields, particularly the participation of women, has improved and there are significantly more women entering careers and studying science, engineering, and medicine than ever before. However, as women increasingly enter these fields they face biases and barriers and it is not surprising that sexual harassment is one of these barriers.

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Internal Security Fund - Police

The Internal Security Fund (ISF) was set up for the period 2014-20, with a total of EUR 3.8 billion for the seven years. The Fund will promote the implementation of the Internal Security Strategy, law enforcement cooperation and the management of the Union's external borders. The ISF is composed of two instruments, ISF Borders and Visa and ISF Police.

Achieving the key objectives

The ISF Police component of the Internal Security Fund will contribute to ensuring a high level of security in the EU. Within this general objective, the Funds' activities will focus on achieving two specific objectives:

  • Fight against crime: combating cross-border, serious and organised crime including terrorism, and reinforcing coordination and cooperation between law enforcement authorities and other national authorities of EU States, including with EUROPOL and other relevant EU bodies, and with relevant non-EU and international organisations;
  • Managing risk and crisis: enhancing the capacity of EU States and the Union for managing effectively security-related risk and crisis, and preparing for protecting people and critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks and other security related incidents.

For the 2014-20 period, slightly over EUR 1 billion is available for funding actions under the ISF Police instrument, of which EUR 662 million will be channeled through shared management and EUR 342 million through direct management.

Concrete actions to be funded through this instrument can include a wide range of initiatives, such as setting up and running IT systems, acquisition of operational equipment, promoting and developing training schemes and ensuring administrative and operational coordination and cooperation.

The Fund's beneficiaries

All EU States except Denmark and the United Kingdom participate in the implementation of the ISF Police. Examples of beneficiaries of the programmes implemented under this Fund can be state and federal authorities, local public bodies, non-governmental organisations and private and public law companies.

General implementation mechanisms of the ISF Police

National Programmes: the ISP Police fund is mainly implemented by EU participating countries through shared management. Each country implements the fund through national annual programmes on the basis of multiannual programming.

Union Actions : part of the ISF Police fund is managed by the Commission (direct and indirect management) through Union Actions, which include Calls for Proposals, procurement, direct awards, delegation agreements.  For these actions the Commission approves Annual Work Programmes that define the priorities and objectives for each year, including the priorities for the Calls for Proposals.


Register Now - Crime Science versus Crime Fiction - a unique event, Aug 30th, London

Crime fiction is now officially the most popular genre in the world. From Sherlock Holmes to CSI, fictional depictions of this good-versus-evil conflict have sought to utilise the latest advances in scientific knowledge. But how closely does crime fiction mirror the realities of police investigation? How far is modern science able to help in the fight to reduce and prevent crime?

This unique, free-to-attend event, held in central London, and jointly organised by one of the world's top crime research departments (UCL Jill Dando Institute) and one of the world's foremost crime writers' organisations (the CWA - Crime Writers Association), brings together bestselling crime authors with leading academics who research crime. Together they will discuss the ways in which crime prevention and detection differs in real life from how it is depicted in our favourite tales of murder and mayhem.

So, if you have ever wondered whether DNA really is the 'magic bullet', or how murder trials really work, or even how an innocent person might end up with a killer's gunshot residue on their hands just by riding in the wrong taxi, then this event is for you.

A must for all those interested in crime prevention and detection, whether in real life or in fiction.


To register for this event please click here