A ground-breaking initiative to tackle perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse, led by Police & Crime Commissioner Alun Michael, has been awarded £200,000 by the Home Office to help roll out the programme across all seven local authorities in the South Wales Police area.
The money will be used specifically to support the extension of the DRIVE programme in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan, following its success in the Merthyr, RCT and Cardiff areas.
The DRIVE programme is an innovative approach that challenges the behaviour of high risk, high harm perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. It has been shown to reduce violence, victimisation and reoffending. The results of a three-year, independent evaluation by Bristol University show that the DRIVE programme has significantly reduced levels of harm:
82% reduction in physical abuse,
88% reduction in sexual abuse,
75% reduction in harassment and stalking,
82% reduction in risk to victims.
Welcoming the grant, the Police & Crime Commissioner, Rt Hon Alun Michael, said: “These startling figures provide objective evidence of the effectiveness of the DRIVE programme in tackling the type of violence and abuse that has been the scourge of our communities across south Wales for far too long. When we agreed to take part in the first pilot programme, starting with Cwm Taf (Merthyr and RCT) I thought it would help – but these results have exceeded our most optimistic hopes.
“When the money for the pilot projects in Cwm Taf and Cardiff ran out seven months ago, I was not prepared for the work to grind to a halt. Matt Jukes, who was Chief Constable of South Wales Police at the time, and I agreed that we would maintain the programme and roll it out to the other four local authority areas. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic we are in the process of delivering on that promise, and the Home Office money will help us to do so.
“The dramatic findings of the independent evaluation by Bristol University show that DRIVE has significantly reduced harm by changing the behaviour of perpetrators and protecting victims, their families and the wider community.
“It is also delivering clear financial benefits to the police and our partners – particularly the NHS – as we work together to break the cycle of harm. This is now so clear that we hope that Welsh Government and partner agencies will help to meet the costs in the future so that we can all continue to reap the benefits, rather than all the costs falling on the police budget. We are proud to have taken the lead in trying out this approach when there was no certainty that it would work. The evaluation shows we were wise to do so – and this grant helps us to deliver across South Wales in this financial year despite the enormous challenges that we have faced.
“The expansion of the DRIVE programme is a clear example of the unwavering commitment of South Wales Police to early intervention and prevention across our communities, as already demonstrated by our work around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) and trauma-informed practices in previous years.”
Paula Bills, Strategic Lead – Vulnerability & Victims for the Police & Crime Commissioner added: “This funding is a huge boost in helping us to tackle violence and abuse across the communities of south Wales, recognising our determination to challenge perpetrators and reduce victimisation.
“Traditionally the response to domestic abuse has focused on the victim leaving their home to start a new life in a new community, disrupting their lives and taking them away from their support network of family and friends. Too often the perpetrator has been left to continue their life, repeating the same behaviour with new partners, creating more victims and harm.
“Whilst we continue to work with our partners to create an extensive system of support for victims and their children, the approach in south Wales has been to take a more holistic view of violence and abuse. This is where DRIVE has been so successful, as evidenced through the evaluation by Bristol University, because it provides an effective intervention for perpetrators that reduces repeat and serial patterns of abuse, and increasing victims’ safety by working alongside vital specialist support services established for victims and children.”