A NEW programme aimed at changing the behaviour of the perpetrators of domestic abuse has proved so successful in Worcestershire it’s being rolled out across the entire West Mercia Policing area.
The county has been part of a pilot project for ‘Drive’ a multi-agency approach – backed by central government cash – to tackle an issue that will affect one in four people in their lifetime, the majority of them women and girls.
And such has been its impact that the latest figures show it has had an 82 per cent success rate in stopping the abuse.
Last week the Home Office minister in charge of safeguarding, Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch, met county colleagues and Kyla Kirkpatrick, the director of the Drive programme, to hear about how it is helping to change lives for the better.
“We do not want domestic abuse to be a hidden crime any longer,” she said.
“We know it affects so many, particularly women and girls, and it’s an horrific thing for anyone to experience.
“We want to encourage more women and girls to come forward because that’s historically been the problem.
“Increasingly we do not want the woman to have to leave her home or leave her children, what we really want is for the abuse to stop.”
She added that the government had already put £300million into tackling domestic abuse and more money was on its way.
“Drive is specialist work, but it’s really effective – this programme has an 82 per cent success rate of actually stopping perpetrators from abusing their victims in the future, and that’s really impressive.”
Drive launched in Worcestershire in 2018 and, as part of the Home Office Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Fund, was extended to Herefordshire in 2020.
Ms Kirkpatrick said: “We are shining a light on the perpetrator and what do they need to do to stop.
“When Drive started it came with the push away from always looking at the victim and asking them, ‘why don’t you leave?’ to asking the perpetrator, why don’t you stop, and in fact, you need to stop.”
Nationally, Drive has dealt with more than 3,500 people, responsible for some 10,000 cases of domestic abuse.
Experts recognise that the causes of domestic abuse are complex and the issue can come to the attention of the authorities via a variety of pathways, from social services and GPs to the police.
The programme is also consensual – no perpetrator is forced to do it – and but the benefits of it are plain for all to see.
Earlier this year, backed by £2million in government funding, West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion re-commissioned the project in Worcestershire, which is delivered by Cranstoun, until 2025.
He said: “Domestic abuse is is an epidemic within our society and to focus on stopping the harmful behaviour of those perpetrating the abuse has to be the focus to keep the people of West Mercia safe.
“One issue is the public don’t talk about it enough – they understand ‘man hits woman’ but man controlling woman in terms of who she’s seeing or the money she has to spend, what she wears or all those things is very complex.
“As it is incredible abuse that is going on behind closed doors every day.”
More than 1.9 million adults in the UK experienced domestic abuse last year.
Visit http://driveproject.org.uk for more information.