Stalkers and domestic abusers to be targeted as millions invested in new intervention projects
Still from the 2022 film ‘Darlings’ starring Alia Bhatt and Vijay
Varma based on domestic violence (Image by Netflix/BBC)
Police forces across England and Wales will weed out domestic abuse and stalking behaviour with a raft of new intervention measures supported by government, the Home Office has announced.
Backed by up to £39 million, 50 projects will be rolled out over the next 2 years, supporting initiatives to stop abusers from repeatedly targeting victims and terrorising vulnerable people. This is also a serious problem within the Asian community, where majority of the victims are hesitant to come forward and report the individuals abusing them.
Many domestic abusers are repeat offenders with 83% of male offenders repeating their offences within a 6-month period. This makes intervening to stop their pattern of behaviour paramount to protect victims.
One project, in the West Midlands, is ensuring that domestic abusers and people who display stalking behaviours are closely monitored and given early psychological intervention to change their behaviour before it gets worse.
Gloucestershire Constabulary is training more frontline officers to spot signs of domestic abuse and intervene with perpetrators.
Several forces, including Lancashire, Avon and Somerset and the Metropolitan Police Service are rolling out the Drive Project, which focuses on the most serious offenders to prevent them from abusing again, working with partner agencies such as social services to challenge perpetrators to change their abusive behaviour. This works by putting barriers in place to prevent abuse and ensuring perpetrators experience the full consequences if they continue to be violent and abusive.
Evaluation from the Drive Project, which has been running for 7 years, has shown an 82% reduction in physical abuse and 75% reduction in harassment and stalking.
Safeguarding Minister, Sarah Dines said: “Domestic abuse and stalking are vile crimes which cause victims to feel terror in their own homes and communities, where they should feel their safest.
“It is unacceptable and this government is determined to protect people from this horrific abuse.
“We know that intervention schemes like these are a crucial means of protecting victims, which is why we are investing millions in helping police identify abusive behaviour and stop it from escalating or happening again.”
West Mid Assistant Chief Constable Andy Hill said: “Tackling domestic abuse and stalking are important priorities for West Midlands Police and we recognise that early intervention can prevent further incidents of these devastating crimes. The work we are carrying out is designed to stop stalking behaviours as early as possible to prevent further suffering of the victim and avoid stalkers becoming entrenched in their behaviour and escalating to more serious stalking and worse.
“This funding will enable us to continue the domestic abuse stalking programme – EASI (Early Awareness Stalking Intervention) – to support stalking awareness and training throughout the West Midlands as well as introducing a multi-agency stalking triage process. This enables us to act when stalking is first reported to us to deliver rehabilitative treatment for stalkers, which aims to improve survivor safety.
“We will also be introducing a custody intervention programme where all prisoners through our custody blocks will be spoken to by a St Giles Trust charity worker to help prevent further offending. Importantly we will also contact the victim to offer support and ensure they are safeguarded.”
The government has already awarded over £41 million to Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales to fund similar projects since 2020.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Domestic Abuse, Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, said: “The funding by the Home Office will help to bring more support to victims of the terrible crimes committed by domestic abusers.
“Policing continues to work with partners, stakeholders and other agencies to help support victims and bring offenders to justice, but we cannot do this alone. Funding is vital to enable this to happen and we welcome this round. We will always work together with the Home Office to ensure this funding continues to increase, so victims get the support the deserve.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said: “Preventing and tackling domestic abuse and stalking is a top priority in my Police and Crime Plan. That is because these crimes have a catastrophic and devastating impact on victims.
“The prevention of crime is always better than having to deal with the consequences of crime. That is why, here in the West Midlands, we have been successfully delivering an Early Awareness Stalking Intervention project. We are pleased to have been awarded additional funding to enable us to continue to deliver the project.
“By intervening early, to challenge and change stalking behaviour and hold perpetrators to account, we can prevent further harm for the victim or future victims and break the cycle of abuse, as well as ensuring help and support for victims and survivors who have experienced this dreadful crime.”
Other projects to receive funding include:
Behaviour change interventions in Kent, including healthy relationships and compulsive obsessive behaviour interventions, they aim to support 184 perpetrators a year, supported by up to £1,638,597 of funding.
The ‘stalking intervention’ project in Essex which seeks to change behaviour and reduce risk for victims and survivors of stalking, which will be supported by up to £1,687,170 of funding.
Cheshire Police are providing interventions for adult perpetrators and young people displaying harmful behaviours to facilitate behaviour change within a whole family setting.
Jo Todd, Chief Executive of Respect, said: “We welcome the announcement of Home Office perpetrator funding as the roll out of the perpetrator pillar of the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan gets under way.
“We believe every perpetrator should be held to account and stopped from causing further harm and are keen to see provision for high quality perpetrator responses in every local area.
“This funding is just the start of what’s needed and our members are keen to see a longer-term cross-departmental strategy from government, that locates perpetrator interventions as part of a whole system approach to ending domestic abuse for good – with funding proportionate to the size of the problem.”
This funding builds on the government’s measures to help tackle domestic abuse announced in February, which go further than ever before in protecting women and children from violence by implementing tougher measures on the most dangerous domestic abuse offenders.
Ensuring that offenders convicted of controlling or coercive behaviour and sentenced to 12 months or more will be managed in the same way as the most dangerous physically violent offenders, and recorded on the Violent and Sex Offender Register
Requiring police forces in England and Wales to treat violence against women and girls as a national threat
Committing to develop a new digital tool which will use police data to identify the most dangerous perpetrators
The government has also introduced statutory guidance on Clare’s Law making it quicker for an individual to access information on a partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending.