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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Violent domestic abusers to be challenged about behaviour in pilot scheme

Written by The Press Association

People who carry out the most violent domestic abuse are to be challenged about their behaviour on a one-to-one basis for the first time.

A new scheme, known as Drive, will be aimed at those thought to be at risk of causing serious harm or committing murder.

Backed by domestic abuse charities SafeLives and Respect, the programme will be piloted in Essex, Sussex and South Wales.

The response to domestic abuse in the UK previously focused on expecting the victim to leave and start a new life, causing major disruption and taking them away from their support network of family and friends.

Domestic abuse victim Rachel Williams said: "The perpetrator is the problem. Why is it that the victim is the one who has to move and seek refuge, when the perpetrator carries on as normal? If we don't deal with them then they just move on to the next victim. We have to at least try and change their mindsets."

Working with Social Finance and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in the three areas, Drive will test an approach to challenge the behaviour of perpetrators, and co-ordinate the response it receives across all agencies.

For the first time in England and Wales, case managers will work with some of the most dangerous perpetrators, on a one-to-one basis, to reduce their abusive behaviour.

If successful in holding perpetrators to account in order to keep victims and children safe, it is hoped the scheme will be rolled out nationally.

Diana Barran, chief executive of SafeLives, said: "SafeLives is committed to reducing the number of victims of domestic abuse. This is not possible without reducing the number of perpetrators.

"The victims we work with have asked us why they are always the ones expected to change - and why too often the perpetrator is left free to continue their abuse of them and others. We want to help victims today and reduce the number of victims of tomorrow."

Drive, which is funded by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, Tudor Trust and the PCCs in all three areas, will start in April.

Nick Alston, PCC for Essex, said: "All too often, when an individual has been subject to domestic abuse, the question is asked 'why didn't they try to leave their situation'.

"However, it is the behaviour of the perpetrators of domestic abuse that must be questioned and challenged, as they are at the root of this crime. We must take steps to address the behaviour of dangerous and serial domestic abusers if we are to seek a long-term and meaningful solution to this problem."

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