Domestic abuse programme show dramatic results in Hampshire

First published in News by

MEN who attend workshops run as part of a Hampshire Constabulary-led project to reduce domestic abuse are less likely to reoffend, says the force.

Research being conducted with the University of Cambridge analysed the success of Project CARA (Conditional Cautioning and Relationship Abuse), which has been running in the constabulary’s Western Area since August 2012.

The controlled experiment tracked the progress over 24 months of men, mostly first-time offenders, who received a conditional caution for a domestic abuse offence.

Some of the men were also invited to attend two workshops, looking at understanding emotional abuse and the impact on their families, recognising the feelings that lead to violence and identifying and dealing with contributory factors such as alcoholism and other substance abuse.

Initial results from the first 12 months of the project show that of 112 men, those who attended the workshops were 46 per cent less likely to re-offend than those who didn’t attend.

An encouraging 82 per cent of the men who attended said the workshops changed their attitude to their partner. And 91 per cent of men who attended said the workshops helped address issues within their relationships.

Chief Superintendent Scott Chilton said: “The research conducted as part of Project CARA is victim-focused, innovative and arguably the first of its kind in the world.

“It looks predominantly at first-time offenders involved in cases that don’t warrant a prosecution charge but still require police action.

“This is an emotive and challenging area to police. Without the possibility of a charge, current means available to officers to intervene|usually don’t go far enough to protect victims. First-time arrests often lead to no further action and issuing a simple caution doesn’t provide the breathing space a couple needs to reflect on the situation.

“The workshops, on the other hand, address the causes of an offender’s violent behaviour, rather than the symptoms, with the aim of preventing that violence escalating into something more serious.”

He added: “The initial results are encouraging and the testimonies from those involved indicate this approach can make a valuable difference.

“There is much we can learn from Project CARA and I will be looking now at how the scheme can be used on a wider scale.

“I believe it has the potential to help protect many more people at risk of domestic abuse and prevent more serious violence happening in the first place.”

The workshops were provided by the Hampton Trust. Sara Kirkpatrick, the trust’s domestic abuse practice and development manager, said: “It’s been inspiring watching course delegates move from an initial position of anger and denial towards recognising how power and control in all of its forms are abusive.

“CARA has allowed us to intervene at the earliest opportunity and we have been able to gain valuable feedback from victims in understanding how positive early interventions can make a significant difference.”

Chief Supt Chilton presented the initial findings from Project CARA on Tuesday at the Conference on Evidence-Based Policing at the University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology.

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