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New campaign film urges Government to publish domestic abuse perpetrator plans

The Drive Partnership, which works with high harm, high risk* and serial perpetrators of domestic abuse to increase safety for victims, has launched a new film to urge government and police and crime commissioners to respond directly to the people actually causing harm – rather than requiring victim-survivors to be solely responsible for keeping themselves safe.

Helen’s Story is a six-minute film from the Drive Partnership about how a perpetrator-focused intervention changed the life of Helen** and her children, who are survivors of domestic abuse. Marking the launch of the film, Helen said:

“I wanted to share my story because I feel like most of the time, it’s the victim of domestic abuse who has to do all the work, and the perpetrator is virtually ignored. I want to help change that. More people should get the kind of support I had. Drive changed my life. With the perpetrator intervention and support from my IDVA, I can finally say myself and my children are in a very happy place.”

The film comes 6 weeks after parliament passed a new law to require government to publish a strategy for DA perpetrators. Campaigners are using this opportunity to set out the five things they want to see in the plan:

1. Criminal justice system and other public and voluntary services trained and working effectively together to hold perpetrators to account.

2. Proven interventions – like group work or one-to-one programmes – for all perpetrators, including those from minoritized groups, available everywhere; and education to prevent and raise awareness of abusive behaviours.

3. Regulation to ensure all programmes are high-quality and safe.

4. Investment – the government has recently opened a £11.1 m fund for perpetrator work which is welcome but only lasts for one year. Its hard to run quality programmes with stop/start funding. A three-year settlement to fund the new strategy, including associated support for victims, should ultimately save money in policing, justice and health costs.

5. Leadership to make it happen, including input from all government departments – including health, housing, culture and more.

The new law gives government a year to make its plans for DA Perpetrators known.

The five elements listed above were featured in the successful ‘Call to Action for a Perpetrator Strategy’ which was launched in parliament over a year ago, attracted over 100 expert signatories, and helped secure the new law.

Kyla Kirkpatrick, Director of Drive said ‘We hope Helen’s Story will remind people why perpetrator work is so important and help ensure that government publishes a detailed perpetrator strategy – with input from the full range of government departments. National statistics show us that more than 2 million adults are affected by domestic abuse each year – that means there are a lot of people out there who are abusing the very people they are supposed to love. We want to see how government will support teachers, doctors, social workers, housing officers and the general public to respond safely and effectively to domestic abuse perpetrators wherever they come across them.’

*High harm, high risk are those perpetrators assessed by professionals as posing a risk of murder or serious physical harm.

**Helen is a pseudonym

Notes for editors 

  • We can offer interviews with a Drive Service user with whom we are working to change and risk manage his behaviour
  • We can offer interviews with service managers who are expert at working with perpetrators

About the legal requirement to publish a strategy

The Domestic Abuse Act received royal assent on 29th April 2021. 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