Two thousand more victims will be supported to stay safe through Drive, as government and PCCs invest in holding perpetrators to account

Over two thousand more victims will be supported to stay safe through the Drive Project, as government and PCCs invest in holding perpetrators of domestic abuse to account.

Drive, an intervention that works to protect victims of domestic abuse by challenging and changing the behaviour of high-harm, high-risk and serial perpetrators, is set to make a further 2000 child and adult victims safer following the announcement of funding by the UK Government today.

The announcement means that approximately 670 additional perpetrators of domestic abuse, who are assessed as at risk of murdering or seriously harming their partners will be subject to detailed risk management by a range of agencies, alongside work to change their behaviour. Crucially, victims and survivors will also be provided support by an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (Idva). It represents a doubling of the programme’s current reach.  

Today’s £1.2m announcement on Drive comes alongside a separate £5.9m pot of money from the government to deliver a range of other perpetrator interventions.

The funding to deliver Drive will be allocated to and matched by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in several new areas and will also support PCCs already delivering Drive to expand their work. The new areas include Northumbria, Dorset, Greater Manchester. PCCs in London, West Mercia, West Midlands and South Wales will be provided with funding to expand the scope of current Drive work to ensure their intervention can reach those who need it most.

The new funding to implement the Drive Project – including crucial contributions by PCCs – will make an estimated 2000 victims and survivors safer for each year the project runs. Investments in other perpetrator interventions mean the total number of victims supported following today’s announcements, will be even larger.

Claire* a domestic abuse survivor whose partner was on Drive, received Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (Idva) support as part of the project. Her story gives a sense of the difference Drive and other perpetrator programmes can make:

“He was cruel to me in every single possible way, all of my worst nightmares became a reality. There was nothing left for him to do. I feared he could never change. Without intervention he absolutely wouldn’t have and my story [would have been] completely different.

….The intervention brought a stop to online abuse, which I’d endured for years. I felt me and the children were safer. I felt reassured.

He acknowledged his behaviour and apologised, this was by far the biggest thing to take away from this. This was a new person. He would never admit anything, so when he apologized and fully acknowledged his behaviour it opened up the door for me to move on and to also gain closure. I never thought this would happen, I had given up hope, yet the Drive Project enabled this to be a reality.”

Kyla Kirkpatrick, Director of Drive, said:

“We thank and warmly welcome our new delivery partners in Northumbria, Dorset, Greater Manchester, and are looking forward to working with them along with our established partners in London, West Mercia, the West Midlands and South Wales. Together we will do all we can to make victims and survivors of domestic abuse safer by responding effectively to those who are causing the harm – the perpetrators.

This investment offers a strong signal from government that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. Drive addresses domestic abuse perpetrators who’ve been assessed as posing the highest risk. We know these are only a fraction of the total number of perpetrators, and that many who are perpetrating lower levels of abuse are already causing great harm and may go on to become even more dangerous. That is why we’re so pleased that government is investing in a range of interventions today. In January, alongside over 70 organisations and experts, we called for a more strategic approach to perpetrators, covering all risk groups in all geographical areas. We therefore hope these investments mark the first step towards a wider Perpetrator Strategy, which includes early interventions as well as later ones, like Drive.” 

*Not their real name

Notes to editor

For more information, comment or interviews please contact louisa.comber@safelives.org.uk and daniella.porano@safelives.org.uk.

Suzanne Jacob, Chief Executive of SafeLives, said:

“There is only ever one person responsible for domestic abuse: the perpetrator. Yet, they are often left out of the conversation when it comes to preventing domestic abuse. This must change. Instead of asking why the victim doesn’t leave – uprooting their lives, leaving behind their community – we must challenge the perpetrators to change their behaviour. For us to end domestic abuse, we must respond to perpetrators.

We are encouraged by the Government’s and PCCs’ commitment to funding perpetrator interventions, including Drive. This means Drive can reach more perpetrators in England and Wales and make more victims and survivors safer, sooner. We know there is much more work to do to ensure every perpetrator has a response, but this is an important step forward.”

Jo Todd, CEO of Respect, said:

“The news that the Government will be funding an expansion of perpetrator work, including Drive sites, behaviour change interventions, and work with young people is a significant marker of progress. We know there is so much further to go, and we also know that this work is essential. Quality perpetrator work will always put the safety of survivors at its centre and can help prevent and end domestic abuse by disrupting, changing, and challenging perpetrators.”

Emily Bolton, Director, Social Finance, said:

“To end the cycle of domestic abuse and protect victims and survivors, we must address the cause of domestic abuse by ending abusive behaviour. We, alongside our partners at Respect and SafeLives, developed Drive to ensure high-harm, high-risk and serial perpetrators no longer slip through the net. We are working to drive systemic change that puts a response to perpetrators at the heart of victims’ safety. We welcome the Government’s and PCCs’ funding of Drive and look forward to working with them to enable a long-term shift in how the UK responds to domestic abuse.”

More about the Home Office funds

A fund of £1.1m was available for bids from areas looking to implement Drive in their local area. Read more about the fund.

A fund of £5.9m was available for bids for a range of perpetrator interventions – focused on building the evidence base and addressing known issues in relation to domestic abuse offending. Read more about the fund.

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 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. The pilot stage of Drive, testing the model in three areas and proving and evaluating its success, was supported by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, Comic Relief, and the Tudor Trust.