Select Committee on Home Affairs Sixth Report

9  Perpetrators

"The main area still to be tackled is the issue of educating the perpetrators"

-eConsultation respondent

Our inquiry focused principally on the experiences of and services for victims. However, we also considered perpetrators as part of the complete picture, both in terms of arrest and prosecution, and in terms of addressing their offending behaviour.

Behavioural programmes for perpetrators

310. Research in the UK on effective interventions with perpetrators of domestic violence is limited. A joint University of Bristol and Home Office study in 2006 found that, of a sample of 356 domestic violence perpetrators in the North-East of England, half were involved in at least one more incident within the three year follow up period; and one in five of these re-offended against a different partner.[318] The study suggested as one of a number of recommendations that men who are violent towards women need to learn new, appropriate responses to destructive feelings. It concluded that, for some men, a criminal justice sanction, or threat of one, provided the incentive for help-seeking, and that others wanted the police to direct them to perpetrator programmes or provide information about help available.

311. Home Office research in 2003 on the profile of domestic violence perpetrators found that "they were not a homogenous group in terms of characteristics and criminogenic need". It concluded that there were two main types of perpetrator: the first group was "emotionally dependent", with high levels of anger and low self esteem; the other was "antisocial/narcissistic" and hostile towards women. This latter group had the highest rate of alcohol dependence and previous convictions.[319] However, this research was only carried out with convicted perpetrators, identified through the Probation Service.

312. A number of programmes have been introduced in the UK, with the aim of helping the perpetrator understand why they use violence, take responsibility for that violence and teach non-controlling behaviour strategies to prevent further abuse. There are currently two types of programme: those run by the Probation Service, for convicted offenders, and community-based programmes run by the voluntary sector. Entry onto a Probation Service programme is only through referral from a court or Probation Service, whereas the voluntary sector programmes take self-referrals, as well as referrals from statutory agencies (e.g. Social services), voluntary agencies and health agencies (e.g. GPs, Relate). The Government has supported Respect, an umbrella organisation of perpetrator programmes, to develop an accreditation system for community-based programmes in the UK.

Anecdotal evidence suggests programmes are effective in changing behaviour, but systematic evaluation is needed

313. Although there is anecdotal and project-based evidence to suggest that perpetrator programmes are effective in changing behaviour and reducing risk to the victim, there has been no systematic evaluation of their effectiveness in the UK. For example, the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, a community-based programme running in three London boroughs, states that "outcome evaluations show that 70% of men who complete the programme stop using physical violence".[320] A letter received by the Committee from a prisoner who attended a perpetrator programme in prison stated:

I thought it would be worthwhile to write and tell you how valuable this programme is to prisoners. It was the most difficult 6 months of my entire life (I am 47) but it was also the most worthwhile 6 months as well. I was in a group of eight and found myself not only facing up to the pain I had caused others but being able to talk openly and honestly about the issues. I had worked hard throughout my time in prison to deal with my personal problems but at the end of the Healthy Relationships Programme I was truly able to say that my life had at last been completely turned around.[321]

314. The Probation Service uses police reconviction data, collected 1 and 2 years following completion of the programme, as its key measure of effectiveness of the programme. It also uses a number of other data to measure outcomes, including the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA), where a checklist of 20 risk factors are assessed to determine whether the offender is low, medium or high risk, information about the offender's performance on the programme, reviews by programme tutor and offender manager, and feedback from the offender and victim.[322] Respect stated that reconviction rates do not give a full picture of the effectiveness of programmes:

Attrition rates from report to court are still unacceptably high—reconviction rates do not reflect the true picture of re-offending; reconviction rates do not pick up non-criminal behaviour such as severe controlling behaviour and jealous surveillance which are key homicide indicators; and reconviction / re-offending rates do not take account of victims who have become too scared to report further violence if they have been punished for doing so before.[323]

315. Respect states that there is "hardly any UK based research into the effectiveness of perpetrator interventions. This is hampering the development of effective services".[324] It concludes that there is an urgent need for a systematic evaluation of perpetrator programmes in the UK, similar to the work by Gondolf in the US. Respect has designed an evaluation, costed at 1.2 million, for which it has start-up funding, but is seeking Government support.[325] One respondent to our eConsultation agreed on the need for proper evaluation of programmes:

"What is needed is some long term study into the attitudinal change of the perpetrator not just over the lifetime of the programme or 3-6 months down the line but a more extensive period of time. As we know with many behavioural change programmes, the relapse is high" - lorca

316. Respect stated that: "research (such as that by Gondolf in the USA) identifies that perpetrator programmes are most effective when they get offenders on to programmes quickly post sentence, include intensive early intervention and have systems in place for victim support and multi-agency risk management".[326] With this in mind, it is even more imperative that those who are sentenced to attend a programme are able to begin the programme quickly.

317. All Probation Service programmes should include the assignment of a Women's Safety Worker to the partner, to support and seek feedback from the victim during the programme. However, witnesses told us that many partners are not receiving adequate support. For example, Respect states that "women's safety work often only begins when a perpetrator begins a programme. Where there is a delay (or where a perpetrator is deemed unsuitable) vulnerable women and children often receive no support or information at all".[327] Respect recommends that "women's safety officer support needs to be more structured and consistent and available pre-sentence and in the early months of the programme when they are most likely to experience re-assault".[328]

318. We conclude that there is a need for research into the effectiveness of perpetrator programmes in the UK, and urge the Government to consider funding Respect to carry out this work. This should include improvement of the current system of measuring programme success. There is also a need for research to identify the characteristics and criminogenic need of all domestic violence perpetrators, not only those who have been convicted, in order to inform effective interventions.

319. Police reconviction data do not provide an adequate measure of the effectiveness of perpetrator programmes, especially given the extremely high rates of attrition for domestic violence. The Probation Service must implement a better method of measuring effectiveness, taking into account data from different sources, including partner reports. Probation areas already collect a range of data, including from the victims, but do not seem to have integrated this data to produce any meaningful outcome measures.

320. Women's Safety Workers must be assigned and make contact with the partner immediately on sentencing, and NOT when the perpetrator begins the programme, which might be some time later.

There is a desperate shortage of perpetrator programmes run by the Probation Service

321. As of April 2006 all 43 Probation Service areas run a perpetrator programme accredited by the Correctional Services Accreditation Panel (CSAP). They can choose whether to run the Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme (IDAP) or the Community Domestic Violence Programme (CDVP). These programmes are only provided for men over the age of 18, and perpetrators are referred post-conviction following use of the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment tool.

322. Of those witnesses who gave evidence on the issue, the overwhelming majority raised grave concerns about the Probation Service programmes, primarily about lack of capacity and under-funding. Jo Todd, Director of Respect, told us that "there are lots of problems in terms of places on programmes, on actual capacity".[329] The Metropolitan Police Service stated that it is "concerned at the extremely limited availability of perpetrator programmes in the capital. Those placed on programmes are often placed on waiting lists and are then unable to access an appropriate programme".[330]

323. A recent study by the National Audit Office[331] of the supervision of community orders reported that Probation Service areas flagged domestic violence perpetrator programmes as a specific area in which they were unable to deliver. The study also found that there were lengthy waiting lists to enter programmes, and that data on order completions were not gathered, meaning that it was not possible to say whether perpetrators had fulfilled their sentences. A separate report by the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) made similar findings about under-capacity.

324. We were told that in some cases that courts were being expressly prohibited from using perpetrator programme as a sentencing option. Jo Todd, Director of Respect, told us that "we are aware of certain areas that have got very long waiting lists where they have even told the magistrates' courts 'do not bother referring. We have closed the waiting list. You cannot even make an order to a programme'".[332] Lord Justice Wall concurred that this was the case.[333] This suggests, rather alarmingly, that since a number of programmes are not even accepting referrals on to their waiting lists, the true extent of under-resourcing is not even known.

325. We were also told that, in a number of cases, perpetrators on one, or even two, year probation orders had to wait so long to go on a programme that it was pointless for them to start the programme because they would not have time to finish it before the order was completed.[334] For example, the submission from the Mayor of London stated:

The effectiveness of community orders needs to be evaluated. There is evidence in London to show that because the waiting list for IDAP is lengthy, perpetrators' Community Orders expire before they access the course.[335]

This picture was borne out in informal discussions when we visited West Midlands Probation Service.

326. The Probation Service acknowledges that it has huge capacity problems. Probation Service National Implementation Manager, Phil Mackin, told us that "information regarding waiting time for offenders to commence the group work element of their supervision for programmes has rightly caused concern" and that as a result of this concern the Probation Service has commissioned research to determine the extent of under-capacity.[336] In terms of additional resources needed to meet demand, he told us that the average unit cost per perpetrator completing a programme is 7,262 for the CDVP and 7,250 for the IDAP, and that a 'ballpark' figure for additional resources needed to clear the backlog might be surmised from the unit costs.[337]

327. There is a desperate shortage of places on Probation Service perpetrator programmes. The full extent of this has yet to be revealed. Lengthy waiting lists mean that not only is a possible way of changing behaviour being lost, but that perpetrators are able to avoid carrying out the programme they are sentenced to, or that the victims are placed at greater risk, without the advantage of being supported, during the period that the perpetrator is waiting for a place. This is an unacceptable situation. Once research currently being undertaken by the service to identify the full extent of under-capacity has been completed, the Government urgently needs to find the resources to fill the gap. The costs of failing to protect victims from further attack by tackling the root causes of domestic abuse are far greater than the cost of funding sufficient programmes.

Community based programmes meet a specific need, but also face funding shortages

328. Perpetrator programmes run by the community sector serve a large group of perpetrators who are not provided for by the statutory sector. Probation Service programmes are only accessible to the few perpetrators with a conviction, leaving a large swathe of perpetrators who are not convicted. Ironically, those without convictions who are not eligible for the statutory programmes, may well be less hardened offenders and more willing to address their behaviour. In February 2008 there were 37 Respect-accredited community-based programmes in England and Wales. Respect recommends that long term funding is required for voluntary sector programmes.[338]

329. Community programmes suffer from some of the same problems as Probation Service programmes, in particular under-capacity, and a lack of sustainable funding. Respect stated that:

Provision of perpetrator programmes for non-convicted offenders is incredibly patchy, with vast areas of the country having no provision at all. The programmes that do exist are usually overstretched, with long waiting lists. There is no secure funding for these programmes—most of them are grant-funded and their financial situation is often precarious.[339]

Rationalising services provided by the statutory and voluntary sector could maximise use of resources

330. Both the Probation Service and voluntary sector have expressed willingness to collaborate more closely on perpetrator programmes. Probation Service National Implementation Manager, Phil Mackin, told us that "we acknowledge that there has been a massive amount of expertise in the voluntary sector and are working closely with colleagues in the third sector to look at other ways they can support both CDVP and IDAP".[340] Jo Todd, Director of Respect, told us:

We would welcome the opportunity to work with the Probation Service on this. We have several ideas for different models of working, including:

Respect accredited services staff could work side by side with probation staff to help them run probation groups (and could also provide some / all of the women's safety work)

Probation staff could deliver some of the probation groups, with Respect accredited services staff delivering the remainder (and some or all of the women's safety work) in the probation office

Probation could contract out the delivery of IDAP/CDVP to Respect accredited services entirely or;

Purchase places on a Respect accredited service programme which it could use whenever probation waiting lists reached a particular level.[341]

331. A pilot project in the South West, initiated by the Regional Offender Manager, is currently mapping out interventions with convicted and non-convicted perpetrators across the statutory and voluntary sectors. The aim of the pilot is to identify gaps and duplications, and assess how best to allocate resources. The Probation Service told us that "this is a project of obvious national significance and would act as a pilot in creating a more holistic response to domestic violence from all agencies including NOMS".[342]

332. We have been pleased to see willingness on the part of the voluntary and statutory sectors to work towards better collaboration on delivering domestic violence programmes. We welcome their efforts to develop this. There is quite clearly a role for community-based programmes in delivering interventions. But this must not be seen by the Probation Service or government as a cheap way of passing on a capacity problem. Any contracting from the Probation Service to the voluntary sector must, therefore, be fully funded.

333. We welcome the initiative of the pilot mapping interventions for perpetrators across the South-West of England, and urge the Probation Service to use the findings to develop an action plan for collaboration between the statutory and voluntary sectors.

"GO" orders: removing the perpetrator from the home

334. The Men's Advice Line (MALE) recommended that more radical measures should be taken towards perpetrators: "we would like to see the perpetrator removed from the house and offered accommodation subject to him engaging in a suitable programme such as the Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme (IDAP) or similar".[343] MALE argues that, apart from allowing the victim to remain in their own home, such an approach would be financially prudent, since re-housing one person would be cheaper than re-housing a whole family.[344] This view was supported by respondents to our eConsultation:

"The action that would have helped me would have been able to stay in my own home, instead of moving my children away. Women should be able to feel safe in the homes that mostly they had built. Women suffer from the violence, the man does this, yet in a lot of cases he has the marital home. The woman ends up having to start all over again" - lifeafter

  "As it stands hundreds of thousands of women and children every year have to flee their homes from domestic abuse...the men in the majority of cases remain at home. Emergency accommodation should be made available for perpetrators so that women don't have to be the ones to leave" - Jane J

  "Why should women and children leave homes, all their stuff, friends, family, jobs, school and the dog?" - Stockport

335. A scheme along these lines has been developed by some European countries, so-called "GO" orders. Austria, Switzerland, Germany and more recently Poland have developed legislation which allows the police to take positive action at the domestic violence incident to exclude the perpetrator of violence from the home. The legislation differs between these countries in terms of factors such as the length of the exclusion order and the extent to which the state allows victims to influence the interventions which occur. In Austria, the order is valid for 10 days and controlled by the police for the first three. In Germany the police can ban the perpetrator from the house for 10-14 days.

336. A significant issue for each country in the development of their legislation has been the extent to which the State intervenes to protect the victim (usually woman) and children and can override their stated wishes and feelings or proactively bring in support and information services. In Austria there is a two stage process. In the first instance, the victim cannot influence the imposition of a barring order or "GO" order. The second stage of the process involves the woman taking action on her own behalf. After a barring order has been imposed, the victim can apply for an interim injunction at the Civil Court (Family Court) within ten days. If such an application is submitted, the barring order is automatically prolonged to 20 days.

337. The first Austrian evaluation showed that some women who were interviewed opposed barring orders, because they wanted to stay with their partners and thought this measure was too strict. Others felt that the barring order was important in developing personal understanding that they should separate from their partners. Some women told researchers that the perpetrators had been shocked by their own behaviour and that their relationship had changed for the better. The follow-up evaluation found that the reaction of some interviewees towards eviction and barring orders changed in the course of time. While in the beginning they had opposed these measures (especially when they did not want to give up their partners, but their partners left them), they admitted in the follow-up interviews how helpful the new legislation had been.[345]

338. The breaching of "GO" orders through the perpetrator returning to the residence is an on-going problem. In Germany no specific research on this dimension has been undertaken so far. In some federal states the law bound the police to issue a "GO" order at least once. In most cases where victims asked for the ending of the "GO" order, the perpetrator gained permission to return to or to stay at his residence. However, police have the discretion to continue the "GO" order if they believe that the victim is being threatened or pressured to allow the perpetrator to return though there are problems for the police in distinguishing between a forced and a voluntary statement of the victim.

339. We recommend that the Government introduces "GO" orders, which have proved effective in other European countries in offering an inexpensive and dynamic short term measure of removing the perpetrator from their home, thus allowing the victim to remain in it. We recognise that it is important to ensure that, as far as possible, the victim is involved in the decision to remove the perpetrator from the home. However, it seems to us that a compromise arrangement is possible, with an initial decision to remove the perpetrator taken by the police, and subsequent decisions taken in consultation with the victim. Feedback from victims, through our eConsultation, suggests that they would welcome such a scheme.

340. Development of "GO" orders in the UK should be linked with Sanctuary schemes, which we discuss in paragraphs 221 to 227 of this report, to provide further protection to victims who remain in their own home.



318   Hester, M., Westmarland, N., Gangoli, G., Wilkinson, M., O'Kelly, A., Kent and A. Diamond, Domestic Violence Perpetrators: Identifying needs to inform early intervention, April 2006 Back

319   Domestic violence offenders: characteristics and offending related needs, Home Office RDS (2003), p 4 Back

320   Information Re: DVIP, Domestic Violence Intervention Project factsheet Back

321   Ev 415-416 Back

322   Ev 316-317 (Probation Service) Back

323   Ev 387 Back

324   Ev 204 Back

325   Ev 387 Back

326   Ev 203 Back

327   Ev 384 Back

328   Ev 203 Back

329   Q 215 Back

330   Ev 238 Back

331   The supervision of community orders in England and Wales, National Audit Office, January 2008 Back

332   Q 215 Back

333   Q 84 Back

334   Q 215 (Respect); Ev 257 (Mayor of London) Back

335   Ev 257 Back

336   Ev 315 Back

337   Q 82 Back

338   Ev 204 Back

339   Ibid. Back

340   Q 89 Back

341   Ev 384 Back

342   Ev 316 Back

343   Ev 310 Back

344   Ibid. Back

345   Haller (2005) Back

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