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Innovative domestic abuse prevention scheme to target offenders

An innovative scheme with a track record in reducing reoffending rates is to target Dorset’s most dangerous domestic abuse perpetrators.

The Drive Programme will work with those deemed as being the county’s high harm and high risk domestic abusers, after the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Dorset successfully bid for more than £90,000 from the Home Office.

Under the scheme, Dorset Police will write to people who have been identified as serial offenders, and offer resources to help them change their behaviour.

This will involve assigning each perpetrator a Drive case manager who will work with multi-agency safeguarding partners to disrupt the perpetrator’s ability to use abuse, while also working with the perpetrator on interventions that aid behavioural change, such as supporting with substance abuse or mental health problems.

But offenders will be closely monitored by police and probation while they take part in the scheme. The Force will also work closely with housing associations, local authorities and other organisations, and anyone who refuses to take part will be warned doing so will have consequences such as jeopardising tenancies and access to benefits.

The one-year scheme will target those who have committed violent offences as well as those responsible for coercive and controlling behaviour, made an offence under legislation introduced in 2015.

The programme has been successful in other parts of the country. The University of Bristol evaluated Drive, analysing over 500 cases and found that physical abuse reduced by 82%, sexual abuse reduced by 88% and harassment and stalking behaviours reduced by 75%.

Dorset’s scheme will be run by the Hampton Trust, who currently manage the county’s Cautions and Relationship Abuse (CARA) programme, an early intervention method which targets lower risk domestic abuse perpetrators and works with them to ensure the problem does not escalate.

The trust is currently recruiting managers to run the Drive Programme in Dorset, and it is hoped the scheme will be operating by January and will be working with up to 100 perpetrators later in 2021.

Dorset OPCC worked closely with the Force, as well as both councils and public health to secure £90,606 funding from the Home Office Perpetrator Fund. A range of partners including Dorset OPCC, Dorset Council and Public Health Dorset will provide match funding.

Stopping perpetrators continue abuse

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Domestic abuse is a damaging crime which ruins lives and destroys families.

“This scheme, which has been so successful in other parts of the country, will help us turn the tide, stopping perpetrators continuing their abuse and moving onto the next victim, and will protect vulnerable people here in Dorset.”

Chief Inspector Julie Howe said: “Domestic abuse is a key priority for Dorset Police. It is an abhorrent crime committed against victims and their families by those who should love and care for them. Dorset Police see the devastating effects on those who experience, and are exposed to it. We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable victims experiencing domestic abuse have access to all the support that they need.

“The Drive programme means we can go further by tackling the root cause – the perpetrator. We can work with them one-to-one to reduce their own vulnerability and change their offending behaviour. Following the success of the CARA programme, it’s great to be partnering once again with the Hampton Trust. With their help, we can take a proactive approach to policing domestic abuse.

“We will continue to take a robust approach to those offenders who are not willing to take up the support offered to help them change their behaviour.”

Director of Drive, Kyla Kirkpatrick, said: “We’re so pleased to welcome Dorset, a new area to deliver the Drive Project. This investment shows victims and survivors that together they are committed to increasing their safety through responding to those who cause the harm – the perpetrators.

“We look forward to working closely with Dorset OPCC, Dorset Police, Dorset Council and Public Health Dorset and thank them for undertaking this important commitment.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said“Tragically, domestic abusers pose the greatest risk of serious harm to those who they are in intimate or family relationships with.

“That is why we are funding perpetrator prevention programmes like Drive to identify serial offenders, and work with them to change their behaviour.”

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