Protecting families by acting early to tackle abusive behaviour – PCC secures £800,000 investment

Acting early to stop abusive behaviour - £800,000 secured to prevent harm and keep families safe

More than £800,000 has been secured to expand a project focused on protecting families by acting early to tackle abusive behaviour, thanks to the region’s Police Commissioner.

Emily Spurrell has secured the investment to intervene early in more cases where an individual is identified as displaying abusive behaviour and acting quickly to challenge and put a stop to their abusive behaviour by diverting them on to a specialist programme.

‘See the Signs’ is designed to tackle the behaviour of those who have committed domestic abuse for the first time, making them accountable for their actions, and working to prevent reoffending to reduce the risk to their partners and children.

The programme focuses on educating offenders on what domestic abuse is, the effects of their behaviour on their partners and children and how to make better choices, teaching them to learn how to practice non-controlling alternatives and steer them away abusive behaviour and offending.

It is hoped that the money will be used to reach up to 400 first time perpetrators over the next two years.

Suitable participants will be identified by organisations such as the police and social services and referred via the charity Causeway through their ReFocus service to the course, which will be delivered by Speke-based service DMAT who specialise in perpetrator programmes.

The £800,000 investment was secured by the Commissioner from the Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Fund which is jointly delivered by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Domestic abuse is never acceptable or inevitable. Intervening early is vital if we are to tackle it and prevent incidents from reoccurring or escalating and keep families safe.

“Securing this significant investment will enable the charity Causeway to identify more individuals whose behaviour has become abusive and divert them onto this programme which is focused on challenging and changing unacceptable behaviour.

“Making offenders accountable for their actions will enable them to address the things that trigger their unacceptable behaviour, changing mindsets and empowering them to make better choices. By educating and working with perpetrators, we can end the suffering of their partners and children.

“Ultimately this has the power to prevent harm and protect more families.”

Following completion of the course, perpetrators will receive up to eight weeks of wraparound support to try and address any wider issues which may trigger their abusive or controlling behaviour, including addiction, anger management, emotional wellbeing, and mental health.

Causeway is an experienced charity with a history of working with vulnerable victims and with perpetrators of crime, particularly through the Merseyside Deferred Prosecution Scheme (MDPS) which aims to tackle issues outside of the courts to prevent re-offending. This funding will enhance this work by focusing on first time perpetrators and trying to put a stop to their behaviour and prevent any repeat offending.

Louise Andala, Head of Services at Causeway, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in tendering for this programme aimed at reducing domestic abuse across Merseyside.

“Our criminal justice team have many years of experience in supporting people away from a cycle of crime and violence, and towards a more stable, safer life. Through this new Refocus service, our Navigators will help people who have committed first-time low-level domestic abuse to recognise and take responsibility for their behaviours, as well as supporting and reducing risk to those who have experienced the abuse.

“The programme, funded by the Home Office, will be delivered in partnership with Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell, Merseyside Police, and specialist organisation ‘DMAT Services’.

“We are proud to be leading this innovative programme of support across Merseyside and are excited to see reductions in the levels and severity of domestic abuses in the area, which in turn will lead to improved safety, protection and outcomes for the victims and their children.”

Maureen Harris, Founder of DMAT (Duluth Model, Assessment and Training), said: “DMAT works with male perpetrators of domestic abuse, as well as those at risk of becoming domestic abusers, and survivors of domestic abuse and coercive control.

“In England and Wales, 2.3 million people are known to experience domestic abuse each year, and one in five murders are related to domestic abuse.  We believe that by tackling the early signs of domestic abuse, we can not only stop lives from being ruined but can also save the lives of those affected. 

“Our See the Signs early intervention programme aims to help men identify and address the underlying issues behind their abusive or controlling behaviour, and give them coping mechanisms and a chance to change and grow.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Causeway and to expanding our programme so that we can continue to help more people move forward from domestic abuse.