Domestic abuse intervention project Drive, together with more than 70 organisations and experts, published a call to action to turn the tide on domestic abuse.
More than 1.9 million adults experienced domestic abuse last year. Drive say that despite there being a perpetrator in each instance, they are often missing from the narrative and the response. A quarter of high-harm perpetrators are repeat offenders and some have at least six different victims.
In the call to action, Drive say: "Their behaviour costs lives, wellbeing, and money. These costs are disproportionately borne by women. Every week, two women are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. One in four women have experienced domestic abuse in their lifetime and domestic abuse represents a third of all violent crime recorded by the police. In 2019, the Home Office estimated the total cost of domestic abuse for victims who were identified in a single year at £66bn."
There are approximately 400,000 perpetrators causing high (including murder) and medium levels of harm across England and Wales , and yet only a tiny percentage of these – fewer than 1% – gets a specialist intervention that might prevent future abusive behaviour. Perpetrators whose victims are assessed at lower levels of risk are even less likely to get a specialist intervention.
This call to action was created with input from statutory and voluntary service providers, academics and commissioners across health, social care, housing, probation, substance misuse, victims’ and children’s services, as well as philanthropic funders and government. It has been coordinated by the Drive Partnership
Drive explain what they mean by perpetrator interventions:
"All perpetrator interventions should go hand in hand with coordinated support for the victim. A typical perpetrator intervention would involve a bespoke combination of the following elements:
1. Initial assessments to understand the perpetrator’s history and needs to ensure they are suitable for the available interventions. Where attendance on a programme is mandated, for example by probation or CAFCASS, assessment is done as part of the referral.
2. Structured groupwork, individual work or a combination of both, where perpetrators are challenged to recognise abuse and reflect on their own behaviour and its impact. This is more suitable for those who do not have significant additional support needs or chaotic lifestyles and who accept some responsibility for their actions. Programmes can be tailored to respond to the needs of specific groups. A programme for 16 or 17 year-olds or an LGBT+ tailored programme would be very different from a programme for older heterosexual men.
3. One-to-one intensive case management. This can be particularly useful for those with more complex needs or a higher severity of offending profile. Case workers challenge perpetrators to recognise their behaviour as abuse and can address associated problems like substance misuse and mental health needs.
4. Disrupt approaches. These are needed for perpetrators who are not willing to cooperate or whose abuse is continuing despite behaviour change work. Disrupt work consists of multiagency efforts to manage risk to victims/ survivors. Agencies share information and are responsive to the dangers perpetrators pose and are ready to prevent/react to any changes (like new child contact arrangements or a new partner) that might increase risk."