Scheme targeting high risk domestic abusers to be expanded

Young woman trying to protect herself from a man's clenched fist.

A scheme to get high risk domestic abusers to change their behaviour is set to be expanded across Norfolk - Credit: Getty Images

A pilot scheme targeting high risk domestic abusers to prevent them reoffending is set to be expanded across Norfolk.

Domestic abuse makes up almost one in four of all crimes investigated by Norfolk police, with around 14,000 cases in the last 12 months.

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford - Credit: Denise Bradley

Norfolk chief constable Paul Sanford has previously identified a “group of perpetrators who go from relationship to relationship and cause turmoil wherever they go” as a driving factor behind rising cases

As a consequence the Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Partnership Approach (DAPPA), a multi-agency project to identify and manage those posing the highest risk, was launched in September.

Involving 12 partner agencies, including probation, children’s and mental health services and victim groups, it has already identified 50 perpetrators, with a further 62 being monitored.

Assistant chief constable Nick Davison told the latest accountability meeting held by Norfolk's police and crime commissioner (PCC) that while the majority were currently in Norwich the two-year pilot is now to be rolled out across the county.

Man in therapy

The scheme has already identified 50 perpetrators, with a further 62 being monitored - Credit: Getty Images

It is anticipated the number of offenders taking part will rise to more than 100.

He said: “What we are really trying to achieve in this pilot is understanding whether we can get a true behaviour change programme where the individual actually engages with it to the point where they recognise their own behaviours, want to work with us to stop that behaviour but they need that programme support to do it.”

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The project uses a “risk based scoring system” to identify people that present the most serious risks, with offences like stalking and controlling behaviour scoring higher. 

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Davison.

Assistant chief constable Nick Davison. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

Abusers are referred to the project by police and other agencies, though those with complex substance misuse problems and mental health issues are not deemed suitable. However participation is voluntary. 

Asked by Norfolk PCC Giles Orpen-Smellie whether it could be made part of court sentencing for domestic abusers, Mr Davison said people volunteering to take part were more likely to engage with efforts to change. 

He said: “Those who are only turning up because the court has said if you don’t turn up we’ll put you in prison are paying lip service to it and actually then don’t change their behaviour.”