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Drive welcomes the return of the Domestic Abuse Bill, but urges focus on perpetrators

As the Domestic Abuse Bill returns to Parliament today, Drive is urging government to adopt a clearer strategy to respond to perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Drive, a perpetrator intervention that challenges and holds high-harm perpetrators to account, welcomes the renewed focus on domestic abuse as the Domestic Abuse Bill is brought back to Parliament today. This Bill is urgently needed and has the potential to transform the UK’s response to domestic abuse.

According to ONS statistics, 35% of all violent crime is domestic abuse – if the Government wants to significantly decrease violent crime, they need to fund effective and quality-assured perpetrator interventions. It is simply impossible to prevent or end domestic abuse without responding to the people causing the harm. We must do this for all adult and child victims and survivors, to ensure the response to domestic abuse is comprehensive and that perpetrators are being held to account and prevented from carrying out further abuse.

Recent data has shown that perpetrator interventions are effective at changing behaviour and making victims safer. However, there is little reference to them in the Bill or the non-legislative commitments that go alongside it. While we welcome the inclusion of court-mandated behaviour change programmes connected to proposed legislation for DAPO/DAPN, there is need for an amendment to take this a step further and ensure these programmes are quality-assured, and therefore, safe and effective.

Veronica Oakeshott, Public Affairs and Policy Lead, Drive, said:

“There are ways to reduce domestic abuse offending amongst the most harmful perpetrators. It is extremely costly for the police and other parts of the system to continuously respond to the same perpetrators without interventions to address their abuse, challenge them and hold them to account. But more importantly, it is harmful for the victims. This is why we’re calling for a perpetrator strategy to go alongside the Domestic Abuse Bill. We can’t stop domestic abuse until we invest in prevention. At the moment there is very little on this in the Bill.”

The University of Bristol’s evaluation of Drive found significant reductions in the use of abuse – the number of Drive service users perpetrating abuse 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%. Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (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.

The research also found that domestic abuse perpetrators were prolific offenders more generally, with an average of 72 police incidents over a four-year period. Two thirds of these incidents were not domestic abuse. The Drive intervention was shown to reduce both domestic abuse and non-domestic abuse offending.

Emily Bolton, Director of Social Finance, which focuses on developing better ways of tackling social problems, said:

“The case for investing in quality-assured perpetrator programmes is clear. Without intervention, a high-harm perpetrator costs the system about £63,000 in interventions at each incident. With an intervention these repeat costs can often be avoided.”

Earlier this year, over 70 organisations – including frontline services, large charities, and academics – called on the government to publish a domestic abuse perpetrator strategy in an initiative led by Drive. Their ‘call to action’ made the case for government investment in perpetrator programmes and training for a range of public sector organisations (from GPs to housing officers) to recognise and respond to people who they think may be perpetrating domestic abuse.

We look forward to working with the government on this as the Bill proceeds through Parliament. We have a real opportunity to change the system – but it will only be successful if we ensure every victim-survivor is supported and safe, but also that every perpetrator is held to account and prevented from carrying out further abuse.


Notes to Editors 

  1. About Drive

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/

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 pilot programmes were funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, Comic Relief, Tudor Trust and the Police and Crime Commissioners in all three areas. The project has also benefited from Home Office funding and local authority support. The replication sites which launched in 2018, are funded by the Police Transformation Fund, local authorities and PCC support.

The impact of the Drive pilots around the country was assessed through an independent evaluation conducted by the University of Bristol. Key findings from three-years of Drive have shown:

  1. Reduction in abuse. 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.

  • About Respect: 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.
  • About SafeLives: the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good. We work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse. We want what you would want for your best friend. We listen to survivors, putting their voices at the heart of our thinking. We look at the whole picture for each individual and family to get the right help at the right time to make families everywhere safe and well. And we challenge perpetrators to change, asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ rather than ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ This applies whatever the gender of the victim or perpetrator and whatever the nature of their relationship.  Last year alone, nearly 11,000 professionals working on the frontline received our training. Over 65,000 adults at risk of serious harm or murder and more than 85,000 children received support through dedicated multi-agency support designed by us and delivered with partners. In the last three years, over 1,000 perpetrators have been challenged and supported to change by interventions we created with partners, and that’s just the start. Together we can end domestic abuse. Forever. For everyone.

  • 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.