New domestic abuse programme launched in Sunderland

Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Images.
Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Images.

An enhanced project to tackle domestic abuse which focuses on perpetrators has been launched in Sunderland.

The project is set to benefit more people in the Northumbria Police Force area.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “I am delighted to launch this enhanced programme which will allow Barnardo’s and IFS to continue the good work that is already underway, thanks to the funding I’ve secured through the Government’s Police Innovation Fund.

“Protecting the vulnerable is an absolute priority for me, and this project will make a huge difference to improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

“By specifically targeting perpetrators, and through early intervention, we can work towards changing behaviour. This will not only prevent any further attacks on the victim but also remove the emphasis from the victim to engage with police or other agencies, if they are reluctant to do so through fear or some other factor.

“This scheme is targeted at male perpetrators who make up 92 per cent of all perpetrators, but we do not forget that there is a need for perpetrators from same sex relationships and women perpetrators.”

Barnardo’s and Impact Family Services (IFS) began delivering the Northumbria Police commissioned programme last year.

It focuses on educating perpetrators in Sunderland and helps to educate men on the impact their abusive behaviour has on women, children and their families, as well as the wider society.

As well as this, it allows people to work with the men to facilitate change and also provides support to the victims, and their family members, helping them to cope and recover.

Barnardo’s Assistant Director Children’s Service Rod Weston-Bartholomew said: “Our aim is to support perpetrators address the violence and abusive behaviour they express towards current or ex-partners, and in doing so, we are ensuring safe and secure lives for those children affected.

“We currently deliver successful voluntary perpetrator programmes in South Tyneside, Sunderland and Newcastle, and extending the scope of our work will mean we’re able to make a positive impact on many more lives.”

Detective chief inspector Deborah Alderson said: “So far we’ve had some really positive results through the initial programme, and I am confident this will continue in North Tyneside and Northumberland. It’s an innovative project, as it reaches out to the cause of the problem and works to put a stop to it.

“There are perpetrators who do acknowledge their abusive behaviour and want to do something about it. This programme is about facilitating this change, while supporting the partners and children at the same time. My message to perpetrators is that it’s never too late to change.”

The funding for Sunderland is currently being used to tackle heterosexual male perpetrators who have been responsible for domestic abuse incidents involving women and children.

It is hoped that in the future, as part of this enhanced project, this can be rolled-out to other groups of perpetrators: female, those in same-sex relationships and young offenders.

The programme is currently available through the police, partner organisation referrals and self-referrals and is part of six different schemes that have received combined funding, totalling £3 million, to protect the most vulnerable in Northumbria as part of the Police Innovation Fund.

The voluntary perpetrator programmes will form part of the Multi-Agency Tasking and Coordination (MATAC) process which targets serial and harmful domestic abuse perpetrators.

The project is expanding on the success of programmes in Newcastle and South Tyneside that began a decade ago.

People living in North Tyneside and Northumberland will also have access to the programme.

It is expected to make a positive change to the lives of approximately 90 perpetrators and their families per year.

Impact’s Chief Executive Officer Hazel Hedley said: “Through our on-going work with the police, we are currently on track to receive an average of 90 referrals per year in each area, so we are really helping a lot of women, families and children through this work .

“We’re making perpetrators understand the impact of their behaviour and subsequently reducing the harm being caused.”

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