Drive project focuses on perpetrators of domestic violence


INNOVATION: Engine for change: Drive project focuses on the perpetrators of domestic violence

The rolling out of a new perpetrator programme proven to be successful in reducing domestic violence has been put on hold, due to the outbreak of COVID-19. 

The Drive initiative, which works with high risk perpetrators – those causing the most serious harm and representing ‘difficult to engage groups – resistant to change individuals,’ has been given the green light to launch in four new forces after a successful pilot in three areas revealed ‘phenomenal results’ in addressing abusive behaviour.

But the next phase will now be delayed while forces play their part in enforcing the national lockdown and adapt to new ways of delivering key services, including those to vulnerable abuse victims.

The Drive programme was trialled for three years in local authority areas in Sussex, Essex and South Wales following an approach in 2016 to PCCs from agencies involved with domestic abuse victims and working with perpetrators.

In the face of criticism from other victim-led organisations fearful of austerity cuts already hitting their service provision and the risk this could divert attention further away from abuse victim/survivors, Sussex PCC Katy Bourne agreed to spearhead a new programme targeting high risk perpetrators in a bid to challenge their behaviours and potentially save the lives or health of existing or potential victims.”It’s part of my role to be innovative,” she told Policing Insight. “I’m from a commercial background and know that not every idea takes off, but the idea of business is try something and learn from it.

“This was a time when there was a real push for evidence-based policing and I wanted to know if there was any evidence to say if working with perpetrators was positive or negative and. Nobody had really done a proper study to see if this kind of programme worked.”

She discovered that existing costs to the public purse were around £50,000 per high risk perpetrator – £7,000 per intervention and the likelihood of each perpetrator having six or seven victim/survivors.

‘I wanted to see if, for around £3,000 I was quoted, we could change their behaviour.

‘Why should a victim have to change their behaviour all the time? They’re usually the one to leave the offender. Why should they have to uproot their life when it’s happening to them as victims but the offender gets to carry on as normal? I was keen to see if this would work.’

Aware that others were sceptical of her willingness to invest precious funds in such an initiative, she justified the rationale for her decision saying: ‘What if it does work? Think of all the victims we could be saving. It was a leap of faith.’

Her faith was duly rewarded with ‘truly astounding’ results from the subsequent three year pilot which ran from April 2016 to October 2019 and featured 506 participants aged between 17 and 81, 94% of whom were male.

Read more on the Policing Insight website


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