A new multi-agency unit, jointly led and monitored by Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Sussex Police, starts work today, Monday 1 March, to tackle some of the county's most prolific and harmful domestic abusers.
With £402,000 Government funding secured by PCC Bourne, the new High Harm Domestic Abuse (DA) Perpetrator Unit will seek, identify and target the most active and dangerous serial perpetrators of DA, uncovering and addressing the reasons why they offend. It will aim to change their behaviour and reduce re-offending.
PCC Katy Bourne, said: "I’m delighted that I was able to secure the funds needed to begin addressing perpetrators’ behaviour and improve the outcomes for victims and children across the entire county.
“Before this unit, there was no specialist partner intervention for those who continually abuse and, as a result, we saw far too many perpetrators in Sussex slipping through the criminal justice net, going on to reoffend and hurt more people.
“As a partnership we are determined, from today onwards, to challenge and change domestic abuse perpetrators in a way that lasts.”
Last year in Sussex, there were 21,000 reports of alleged DA offences. However, with only a 4% local conviction rate for these crimes, unless more perpetrators are sentenced, they subsequently will not receive any service intervention that would address their behaviour.
The police team, officers with a background in detecting and supervising offenders in the community, have been joined by: a mental health worker from Brighton Housing Trust (BHT); a drugs and alcohol worker from the national health and social care charity Change Grow Live (CGL); an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) from Worth Services; and specialist intervention probation-trained officers from Seetec Justice.
Perpetrators’ victims and their families will be offered support through the IDVA who will keep them informed throughout and can also liaise with Children’s Social Care whenever required.
Rachel Tandy, Early Help MASH Manager for Worth Services said: “The IDVA will work with the partner agencies as well the victims and families – ensuring that their voices are heard and that they are kept safe, regarding the abuse and its impact. We will keep them informed throughout the intervention. We are thrilled to be a part of this new partnership to continue to challenge domestic abuse.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland of the Sussex Police Public Protection Command said: “I am delighted that the Police and Crime Commissioner has obtained this funding, so that we can now start this domestic abuse perpetrator programme to reduce violence and abusive behaviour in relationships. We want to work with perpetrators to change and modify their behaviour and educate them about healthy relationships.
“However, those perpetrators who continue to offend will still be investigated and where there is sufficient evidence positive action will be taken, including prosecution. Domestic abuse isn’t acceptable and will not be tolerated, but through this programme those who want to change will have the opportunity to do so.”
It is estimated that 40 of the highest harm DA perpetrators in Sussex will receive tailored intervention during 2021. This means that mental health and intervention experts will work with them to address the reasons why they continue to hurt people in the ways that they do and more complex drivers, such as substance abuse, will also be addressed as part of the programme.
Carl Hall, Deputy Director of Community Development for Seetec Justice said: “This is an important initiative to tackle domestic abuse in Sussex. Seetec is looking forward to working with the PCC to address the reasons why individuals perpetrate such crimes. Through an innovative, multi-agency approach, we aim to boost the capacity in Sussex to intervene earlier and avoid more people becoming victims of domestic abuse. These types of interventions are a proactive way to improve community safety.”
Katherine Wadbrook, Service Manager for Change Grow Live West Sussex YP & Families, said: “We look forward to partnering with Sussex Police in this co-ordinated effort to reduce and stop abusive behaviours in relationships, in order to protect the innocent victims of domestic abuse and violence. This will include a strong focus on problematic drinking and drug misuse and addressing the root causes of abusive patterns of behaviour.
Rachael Kenny, Director of Mental Health and Support Services for BHT commented: “We are pleased to be working in partnership on this innovative project aimed at reducing the harm caused by domestic violence and addressing its causes. Our involvement continues BHT’s commitment to working in new ways to change lives across Sussex.”
A wider programme is also being launched today for DA perpetrators who recognise and want to change their destructive behaviour. This will focus on changing the behaviour of up to 100 more perpetrators and will be delivered by local charity, Cranstoun. The program will focus on challenging language, identifying harmful behaviours and supporting to make positive changes. More information is available here: https://www.cranstoun.org/services/domestic-abuse/men-masculinities-sussex/
Charlie Mack, Chief Executive, Cranstoun, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to deliver this programme across Sussex, working in partnership with the Sussex PCC and Police to challenge perpetrators of domestic abuse to take responsibility for their behaviour. We support people to make positive changes when they are aware that their relationships have become damaged by their substance misuse, abusive behaviour, violence or coercive control. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to live healthy, safe and happy lives. By working with the perpetrators to enable positive change we can protect victims and children from experiencing abuse.”
If you're a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, and there's an emergency that's ongoing or life is in danger, call 999 now.
If you've been the victim of domestic abuse, or are concerned for someone who is, you can report this to Sussex Police:
- using the Sussex Police online Report domestic abuse service
- in the safety of your local police station (if you require a translator, we can provide someone initially by phone and later in person)
- by calling 101
For information on support services available in Sussex visit Safe Space Sussex.