New programme launched to tackle domestic abuse

Dorset Police have partnered with domestic abuse charity The Hampton Trust to launch an innovative new programme commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

In the 2018/19 financial year, offences linked to domestic abuse accounted for 12.5% of all crime in Dorset.

In a scheme commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, perpetrators of domestic abuse in the county will attend two full-day Cautions and Relationship Abuse (CARA) workshops as part of a conditional caution issued by police, in turn part of the wider Dorset Domestic Abuse Strategy.

The first of its kind in the UK, CARA workshops are an early-intervention method designed to target low-risk offenders and work with them to prevent re-offending and ensure victim safety.

CARA was originally developed as a partnership between The Hampton Trust, Cambridge University and Hampshire Constabulary and has set a precedent in its approach to working with perpetrators nationwide with police forces across the UK adopting the programme.

A study conducted by Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology looking at first-time offenders who attended CARA discovered that the workshops reduced re-offending rates by a third. Of those who attended workshops, 94% reported a change in attitude towards their partner, while 91% felt it assisted with issues in their relationship.

Chief Executive of The Hampton Trust Chantal Hughes said: “It is an honour to work alongside Dorset Police to deliver CARA in Dorset.

“CARA is designed to be what is called an ‘up-stream’ intervention, getting to the root of the problem and resolving it before it can escalate. It is designed to intervene far earlier than has ever been done in criminal justice before, with the aim to make our communities safer and ease pressures on front line services.”

The workshops use a mix of educational and therapeutic techniques to help offenders understand domestic abuse while at the same time recognising and managing their behaviour.

Jennifer Howard, the Out of Court Disposals Manager for Dorset Police, said: “Offering CARA workshops as a conditional caution enables us to intervene in domestic crimes at a much earlier stage, before it reaches the court, and ultimately prevent more people from ending up in situations in which they get caught in a cycle of domestic abuse.”

Martyn Underhill, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “Domestic abuse is a damaging crime which ruins lives, so it’s vital we act early to stop situations from escalating.

“This is an innovative scheme which has been successful in other parts of the country, and I’m confident it will help us reduce reoffending and protect vulnerable people here in Dorset.”

For more information on CARA and the work of The Hampton Trust visit www.thehamptontrust.org.uk.

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