Domestic abuse thrives on silence. We therefore welcome anything that opens up the conversation and the Panorama programme airing tonight ‘Can Violent Men Change?’ will do just that. Too often perpetrators remain hidden and overlooked. They are left unaccountable and free to be abusive towards those closest to them.
The Drive Partnership (Respect, SafeLives, Social Finance) believes that perpetrator provision is vital in order to keep victims and children safe. This is not about providing services for either victims or perpetrators – it is about both. We advocate for a fully-funded response that ensures victims are supported as soon as possible, children are reached earlier, and perpetrators are challenged and held accountable. We strive to change the question from “why doesn’t she leave?” to “why doesn’t he stop?” We are therefore delivering an intervention that increases victim safety and develops our understanding of how we can make him stop, for good.
Why have we decided to do this work? The answer is simple: there is an urgent need for it. Survivors have asked us repeatedly why the perpetrator does not receive an intervention. Nothing to change their behaviour. Nothing to prevent them from moving on to the next partner or family member and continuing this abuse. The statistics highlight this gap – fewer than 1% of perpetrators get a specialist intervention to prevent future abusive behaviour. We want to change that.
The Drive intervention focuses on interrupting and disrupting abuse through a police and multi-agency response alongside 1-2-1 work to change perpetrator behaviour in the longer term. We are seeing encouraging evidence from Drive – with reductions in abuse, and in 78% of cases, domestic abuse specialists reporting increased safety for the victims they were supporting.
That is not to say the work is easy. It is challenging and requires a long-term, whole system approach that includes all agencies: the police, social services, mental health, probation, victim services and more. There is a lot of innovative work going on to challenge perpetrators in order to make women and children safer. It is vital that this work is of a high quality and safe standard. Any perpetrator intervention requires support for the victim, a strong police response and multi-agency forums sharing information and resources. All interventions must be rigorously tested, properly funded and regularly audited against safety standards, with robust training and support for staff members.
We recognise Panorama as an important discussion starter and would encourage viewers to explore the whole picture when looking at perpetrator interventions. We encourage greater funding and greater collaboration to support the development of effective perpetrator provision across the country.