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Drive marks the achievements of a three-year pilot to challenge and change perpetrator behaviour

May 21, 2019

At the House of Lords today, representatives of the Drive Partnership called for public and voluntary sector services to make perpetrators of domestic abuse a higher priority as part of a comprehensive response to ending domestic abuse.

As Peers, MPs and sector experts gathered today to mark the achievements of Drive, speakers highlighted the positive impact of the programme and the fact that many areas still have no provision for challenging perpetrators, which is putting lives at risk. 

Support for all victims and survivors is vital, but alone, will not end domestic abuse, which affects one in four women and puts 100,000 lives at risk each year in the UK. To end domestic abuse, perpetrators must also be held to account, challenged and prevented from continuing their abuse. At least 1 in 4 perpetrators are repeat offenders and some have as many as six different victims.

Drive has pioneered an innovative approach to ending domestic abuse, challenging the dominant narrative by asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ instead of ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ The impact of the Drive pilots around the country is being assessed through an independent evaluation conducted by the University of Bristol. Initial findings reported from the first two years of Drive have shown promising results, including:

  • the reduction of physical abuse by two-thirds
  • the reduction of sexual abuse by over three quarters
  • the reduction of controlling and jealous behaviour and harassment and stalking behaviour by more than half
  • a 30% reduction in police recorded incidents of Domestic Abuse when Drive was involved, compared to no change when Drive was not involved[i]

The programme works through an intense approach to addressing perpetrator behaviour. Over three years, Drive has worked with over 1000 high-harm perpetrators, using individual case management alongside a co-ordinated multi-agency response. As well as working with individuals to challenge and address their abusive behaviour, Drive focuses on closing down and disrupting the opportunity for perpetrators to abuse by working closely with the police and other agencies.  It also addresses issues such as substance misuse, housing and mental health which can increase the risk to victims and stand in the way of changing a perpetrator’s abusive behaviour.

Drive works hand-in-hand with Independent Domestic Violence Advisor services (IDVAs), complementing and strengthening the vital safety and support for victims and survivors that IDVAs provide, by holding the perpetrators to account for stopping the abuse now and seeking to prevent them from harming future partners and children.

The intervention has been developed by founding partners Respect, SafeLives, Social Finance, and Lloyds Bank Foundation, and is supported by the Home Office, Police and Crime Commissioners and Local Authorities in the eight delivery sites across England and Wales. It was first piloted in Essex, South Wales, and West Sussex, and has now expanded to five more areas: Cardiff, Croydon, Birmingham and Sandwell and Worcestershire.

Drive is now calling for more funding and commitment to work with perpetrators of all types and in all places.  However, this must not be at the expense of services for victims, survivors and families of domestic abuse – both adults and children, which also urgently need robust long-term funding.

Official Home Office figures estimated the costs to society, the economy and public services of domestic abuse at £66bn per year.[ii] Therefore, ending domestic abuse needs a comprehensive and strategic approach across government departments. The Drive Partnership calls for the government to use the forthcoming introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill and the upcoming Spending Review to prioritise a long-term cross-governmental strategic response to ending domestic abuse, backed by funding to support the expansion of victim and survivor services alongside high-quality perpetrator interventions so that we can end abuse today and tomorrow.

Suzanne Jacob, CEO of SafeLives said:

“There is only ever one person responsible for domestic abuse: the perpetrator. And yet, as we sit here today, the vast majority of perpetrators remain unchallenged and unchanged. The response still focuses on asking victims to take action – leaving home, leaving everything they know, to escape the abusive behaviour. It’s time that we change the public narrative, asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ rather than ‘why doesn’t she leave?’

We will never end abuse until we see a whole government approach, which identifies those responsible for harm and changes their behaviour, while ensuring victims, survivors and whole families are given the support they need to become safe and well. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to mark the achievement of the Drive partnership today – but these findings must be the start, not the end of the conversation.”

Jo Todd, CEO of Respect said:

“Drive isn’t just a model of service delivery, it’s a collaborative partnership with a shared ambition to transform work with perpetrators. We need services in every area able to meet the needs of a whole range of perpetrators. While putting the safety of survivors at the centre, Drive works with those causing the highest levels of harm who are resistant to change and who often fall through the gaps between services. It is only by focusing on the cause of the problem that we’ll end domestic abuse, and Drive is an important part of this work.”

Emily Bolton, Director, Social Finance, said:

“To achieve long-term systemic change in how we tackle domestic abuse in the UK, we need to ensure that perpetrators are challenged to change and that their abusive patterns are disrupted and ended. Our partnership with Respect and SafeLives on Drive, has shown that a response is needed in every locality across the country to address all perpetrators, so that we can improve safety for victims and children.”

Darren O’Connell, former Drive Case Manager said:

“I was a Case Manager for Drive for three years and now I’m a Service Manager for Safer Merthyr Tydfil: an organisation committed to ending domestic abuse but which, thanks to Drive, are now approaching the problem differently. We now no longer just help victims or survivors – who too often are different generations from the same family – but we’re now able to intervene and end abuse, whilst improving the support we provide for victims and their families.”

Baroness Rennie Fritchie, Chair at Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales said:

“Drive has shown the power of partnership across multiple organisations: between those who work with survivors and those with perpetrators; those working on a national scale and those in local communities across England and Wales and all with one aim – reducing domestic abuse by addressing it better at source. It has been a real collective endeavour committed to changing practice on the ground and improving lives. With Drive showing an impact by challenging perpetrators and better supporting survivors, we are calling on more areas and funders to make perpetrators a higher priority to prevent and reduce domestic abuse once and for all.”

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins said:

“Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime that can tear lives apart. While it’s vital we support survivors, we must also intervene early and ensure the abuse never happens in the first place. Through the draft Domestic Abuse Bill, we plan to introduce Domestic Abuse Protection Orders that can force perpetrators to attend programmes that tackle underlying issues such as drug and alcohol dependency. Prevention is better than cure, and the pioneering work of these partners on the Drive project will mean that fewer individuals will have to suffer abuse.”


For more information about Drive, or images relating to the partnership, please contact: info@driveproject.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

Drive is an intensive intervention that aims to make victims and survivors and children safer by working with high-harm and serial perpetrators to challenge behaviour and prevent abuse. The original Drive pilot has been delivered since 2016 in Essex, South Wales, and West Sussex, by the Change Project, Safer Merthyr Tydfil, and DVIP (division of the Richmond Fellowship) and Hampton Trust. In 2018, replication testing began in Croydon, Cardiff, Worcester, and Birmingham and Sandwell, delivered by Rise Mutual, Safer Merthyr Tydfil, Cranstoun, and the Richmond Fellowship. For more information, please visit: http://driveproject.org.uk/

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales partners with small and local charities who help people overcome complex social issues. Through long-term funding, developmental support and influencing policy and practice, the Foundation helps those charities make life-changing impact. The Foundation is an independent charitable trust funded by the profits of Lloyds Banking Group as part of their commitment to Helping Britain Prosper.

In 2018 Lloyds Bank Foundation awarded over 300 grants in 2018 through its grant’s programmes, worth over £14.4million to charities across the country. For more information visit: www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk

The main UK membership organisation working with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people. It has developed standards and accreditation and provides training and support to improve responses to adults using violence and abuse in intimate relationships. Respect accreditation is the benchmark for the provision of quality interventions with men who use violence against their female partners.

A UK charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. It combines insights from services, survivors and evidence to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. SafeLives’ new strategy addresses the needs of the whole family – including perpetrators. Domestic abuse affects us all; it thrives on being hidden behind closed doors. We must make it everybody’s business.

  • About Social Finance

A not-for-profit organisation that partners with the government, social sector and the financial community to find better ways of tackling social problems in the UK and beyond. It has mobilised £180 million of funding and designed a series of programmes, including the Social Impact Bond model, to tackle social challenges including rehabilitating short sentenced offenders, supporting vulnerable adolescents to avoid being taken into care and helping vulnerable youth access employment. Drive is an initiative of Social Finance’s Impact Incubator. The Impact Incubator is a collaboration between charitable foundations and Social Finance to develop new models in areas of acute social need with the potential for sustainable change at a national level.

[i] ‘Evaluation of Year 2 of the Drive Project  – A Pilot to Address High Risk Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse Drive Project,’ University of Bristol, January 2019 http://driveproject.org.uk/about/research-evaluation/

[ii] ‘The Economic and Social Costs of Domestic Abuse,’ Home Office, January 2019  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-economic-and-social-costs-of-domestic-abuse