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New research shows the potential of perpetrator programmes to cut violent crime and keep victims and families safe

Press release issued: 21 January 2020

‘Publish and fund a domestic abuse perpetrator strategy to cut violent crime and protect victims,’ backers of a new campaign tell Government.

Domestic abuse perpetrator intervention, Drive, and over 70 signatories call on the Government to invest in a perpetrator strategy, as new research from the School for Policy Studies shows the potential of perpetrator programmes to cut violent crime and keep victims and families safe.

Currently less than 1% of perpetrators receive a specialist intervention to challenge or change their behaviour. Opportunities are being missed to stop a perpetrator abusing their current victim and prevent them from moving on to their next. This failure to prevent the cycle of abuse costs the lives of two women a week and around £66bn a year in social and economic costs. It must change.

The Call to Action is backed up by new evidence from a three-year evaluation of the project carried out by researchers at the School for Policy Studies: Professor Marianne Hester (PI), Dr Nathan Eisenstadt, Dr Ana Ortega-Avila, Dr Karen Morgan, Sarah-Jane Walker and independent consultant, Juliet Bell, showing that quality perpetrator interventions work. The project which worked with perpetrators who have been assessed as at risk of murdering or seriously harming their victims, found that:

  • After the intervention the number of Drive service users perpetrating high levels of physical abuse reduced by 82%; sexual abuse reduced by 88%; harassment and stalking behaviours reduced by 75% and jealous and controlling behaviours reduced by 73%. 
  • For the duration of the intervention, IDVAs (Independent domestic violence advisors who work with and support victims of domestic abuse) reported the risk to the victim reduced in 82% of cases. 
  • Perpetrators on the programme had fewer domestic abuse and non-domestic abuse police incidents than the control group a full year after the programme was complete. 

Speaking about the launch of the ‘Call to Action for a Perpetrator Strategy’, Drive Director, Kyla Kirkpatrick said:  

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s ambition to cut violent crime by 20%.1 Given more than a third of violent crime is domestic abuse, investing in proven ways to disrupt and change the behaviour of perpetrators is common sense.  

“Previous governments have been focussed on simply addressing the devastating impact of domestic abuse rather than stopping it. It’s crucial we ensure the care and support of those affected by domestic abuse remains a priority, but if we are to end domestic abuse for good, we must tackle it at the source.  

“The re-introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill will be an important first step, but a huge piece of the puzzle is still missing – a strategic approach to perpetrators – the people who cause harm.” 

Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner said: 

 “I support the call on Government to publish a Strategy on Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse. Current prevention work is patchy and too often perpetrators go unchallenged and are not offered opportunities to change their abusive behaviour. Everyone, from public servants to the private sector to the man or woman on the street needs to know that they can call out abusive behaviour when they see it and that there are systems in place hold abuser accountable and to offer support to change.” 

The Call to Action which is co-signed by household names from Barnardo’s to Shelter to Social Finance to SafeLives and Women’s Aid, along with Police and Crime Commissioners and a swathe of academics and calls on the Government to publish and invest in a strategy that holds perpetrators to account and protects victims will be presented to the Government this evening at the APPG on Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse.

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