Stopping domestic abuse perpetrators in their tracks
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has successfully secured £402,000 from the Government to set up the first county-wide domestic abuse (DA) perpetrator programme.
Last year in Sussex, there were 13,500 reports of alleged DA offences. However, with only a 4% local conviction rate for these crimes, unless more perpetrators are sentenced they subsequently will not receive any service intervention that would address their behaviour.
Working closely with Sussex Police, all three county councils, local charities and rehabilitation companies, PCC Bourne will now be leading the development of a pilot programme that will bridge this gap.
The majority of the funding will be used to target the most active dangerous DA perpetrators, uncovering and addressing the reasons why they commit these crimes, with an aim of changing their behaviour and reducing reoffending through evidence-based interventions.
The programme will offer access to dedicated mental health workers, drug and alcohol specialists and offender management caseworkers, with Sussex Police officers leading on referrals.
The perpetrator’s victims and their families will also be offered support through a qualified Independent Domestic Violence Adviser who will keep them informed throughout and can liaise with Children’s Social Care where required.
As well as targeting those DA perpetrators that are causing the most harm, the learning in Sussex to date has shown that there also needs to be an offer for those perpetrators that may not fit into this category.
As a result, funding will be used to set up a system where perpetrators can refer themselves to the programme if they recognise that their behaviour needs addressing.
PCC Katy Bourne said: “I have always supported and spearheaded the creation of perpetrator programmes, being one of the first PCCs to back the DRIVE project which was piloted in West Sussex and worked with hundreds of high-risk, domestic abuse perpetrators. This work has provided the evidence needed to set up a more sustainable approach.
“I’m delighted that we have secured the funds to now address perpetrators’ behaviour and improve the outcomes for victims and children across the entire county.
“There is currently no specialist partner intervention for those who continually abuse and we are seeing far too many perpetrators in Sussex slipping through the criminal justice net, going on to reoffend and hurt more people.
“I want to thank all the partners, including Sussex Police, who were involved in the bid for this funding and who will be key to its success moving forward.
“We are determined to challenge and change domestic abuse perpetrators.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland of the Sussex Police Public Protection Command said: “I am delighted that we have been awarded this money together with partners, so that we can set up a domestic abuse perpetrator programme with the aim of reducing violence and abusive behaviour in relationships. The funding will allow specialist services to work with perpetrators to change and modify their behaviour and educate them about healthy relationships.
“However, those perpetrators who continue to offend will still be investigated and where there is sufficient evidence positive action will be taken, including prosecution. Domestic abuse isn’t acceptable and will not be tolerated, and I hope that with the funding available those who want to change will have the opportunity to do so.”
Another emergency funding boost for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence has also been secured by PCC Bourne. In July, Sussex benefited from nearly £700,000 in emergency funding to combat the rise in reports of these crimes during lockdown months.
As a result, Sussex victim support organisations have helped 3436 vulnerable people.
As we are in the middle of another lockdown period, the Government has recognised the need to invest even more in these specific support services, releasing a further £11 million to help victims during winter and beyond.
Mrs Bourne has secured £151,000 for Sussex saying; “We know that cases of domestic abuse and violence spiked in the first lockdown.
“As we find ourselves in a similar situation it is just as important as the first time to reach out to particularly vulnerable people and make sure they know there are dedicated support services in place who will listen and help them.
“We may be in lockdown, but we must not feel locked out.”
If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, and there's an emergency that's ongoing or life is in danger, call police on 999.
If you can’t talk because the perpetrator is nearby, you can then press the numbers ‘55’ into your mobile phone which will alert the operator to your situation.
The Safe Space Sussex website also provides a valuable directory of help and support from all agencies, available near you.