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Drive welcomes new legal commitment to a Perpetrator Strategy as the Domestic Abuse Bill passes into law

The Drive Partnership welcomes the new Domestic Abuse Act 2021 which passed into law in late April and in particular, the legal requirement for government to publish a Perpetrator Strategy within a year. This is something the Drive Partnership – which is made up of Social Finance, Respect and SafeLives – has long called for, along with a network of over one hundred organisations and experts who have signed a “Call to Action for a Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Strategy”.

The Drive Partnership will seek to ensure that the Strategy ends the era where victims are expected to do all the hard work to keep themselves safe, and heralds a new one which puts responsibility squarely back with perpetrators to change their behaviour and agencies to hold them to account if they do not.

Director of Drive Kyla Kirkpatrick said:

“We pay tribute to all the signatories to the campaign calling for a domestic abuse perpetrator strategy – including survivors, women’s sector charities, other voluntary organisations, academics, policing and other statutory organisations – who have worked so hard to win this commitment.

We also want to recognise the crucial role of MPs, peers, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and the Victims Commissioner in winning this change. We pay tribute to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse and also thank those who worked tirelessly to highlight challenges with the existing system, through proposed changes to Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements.

We look forward to continuing our work together to ensure the new strategy is fit for purpose and makes a real difference to survivors. Quality perpetrator work must always incorporate a quality victim response, and it is crucial that the new strategy is guided by what victims want and goes alongside full funding for victims services.”

Shana, survivor & advocate said:

 “As a survivor with 25 years lived experience of DA, escaping 3 honour killings and 2 forced marriages, I believe we must have a Perpetrator Strategy. DA is caused by those with toxic behaviours and aided by society who continue to look the other way. Our ignorance and silence aid the crime.

 No baby is born to be a perpetrator of Domestic Abuse; society plays a huge part in why domestic abuse still exists and tolerated. We need a perpetrator strategy to ensure the spotlight is on those with toxic behaviours. Adequate funding to change attitudes, beliefs and actions, is the only way to keep people safe and end this crime which has generational effects and ripples into every area of society.” 

The Drive Partnership welcomes many aspects of the Act – including a new statutory definition of domestic abuse; a prohibition on perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person; and the extension of the controlling or coercive behaviour offence to cover post-separation abuse. Details of all the new measures contained in the Domestic Abuse Act can be found on the government’s website here.

There are also areas where the Drive Partnership believes the legislation should have gone further, particularly regarding provision of a full range of community-based services and the needs of migrant women. We will continue to support campaigns on both of these fronts. To be effective, any perpetrator strategy will need to go alongside a fully funded and comprehensive victim response, including for children. The call to #Invest2EndAbuse – for properly funded community provision – is led by Barnardo’s with EVAW, SafeLives and others. We also support the #StepUpMigrantWomen campaign led by the Latin American Women’s Rights Service to ensure that victim/survivors are not discriminated against because of their insecure immigration status.

In the months ahead, The Drive Partnership will be making the case for a comprehensive Perpetrator Strategy that reflects victim/survivor needs and turns the tide on domestic abuse.

Notes for editors 

About the legal requirement to publish a strategy

Section 75 of the new Domestic Abuse Act requires the publication of a Strategy for prosecution and management of offenders within 12 month of Royal Assent. This should cover:

(a)detecting, investigating and prosecuting offences involving domestic abuse,

(b)assessing and managing the risks posed by individuals who commit offences involving domestic abuse, including (among others) risks associated with stalking, and

(c)reducing the risk that such individuals commit further offences involving domestic abuse.

Drive understands this will form part of a wider DA strategy.

About Drive

Drive believes domestic abuse is not acceptable or inevitable. Drive works with high-harm, high-risk and serial perpetrators of domestic abuse to prevent their abusive behaviour and protect victims. Drive challenges these perpetrators to change and works with partner agencies – like the police and social services – to disrupt any ongoing abuse.

Drive advocates for changes to national systems so that perpetrators posing all levels of risk can no longer get away with abusive behaviour and can access the help they need to stop.

Drive was developed in 2015 by Respect, SafeLives, Social Finance – the Drive Partnership – to address a gap in work with high-harm perpetrators of domestic abuse. Drive is a national project, with service providers delivering the intervention in local areas. In every site, we partner with local specialist domestic abuse organisations to design and deliver a programme tailored for the locality. This work is done in partnership with statutory agencies such as the police, public health, and children’s social care.

Reduction in abuse. The University of Bristol found the number of Drive service users perpetrating abuse types reduced as follows:

• 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%.

Reduction of risk: Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs), who are trained to work with victims-survivors and assess the level of domestic abuse risk they face, recorded reduction in risk to victims in 82% of cases.

Drive is a partnership between Respect, SafeLives and Social Finance:

Respect UK – Respect is the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people. Respect have developed standards and accreditation and provide 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.

SafeLives – SafeLives is the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good. SafeLives work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse.

Social Finance – Social Finance is a not-for-profit organisation that partners with the government, the social sector and the financial community to find better ways of tackling social problems in the UK and beyond. They have raised over £100 million of social investment and designed a series of programmes to tackle social challenges including supporting vulnerable adolescents to avoid being taken into care, supporting older people reduce their level of loneliness and helping people with health conditions and disabilities access employment.

Funding and Commissioning partners 

Drive is funded by a mix of grant making trusts, central government grants and local government commissioning from policing, public health and local authorities. Local commissioners play a particularly important leadership role in Drive Project sites. The National Lottery Community Fund is a key funder, supporting the delivery of the Drive Project in certain sites and funding the Drive Partnership National Systems Change work until March 2023. The UK government is another key funder and is supporting some sites to adopt the Drive Project.

Find out more information at: http://driveproject.org.uk/ and follow us on Twitter: @DriveProjectUK