Our response to the Respect Manifesto: What we need from the next Government

1st July 2024

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Insights

Written by

Kerstin Mordant

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Ahead of the General Election this week, charity Respect have published a manifesto laying out the actions that will need to be taken by the new government to make real progress in tackling domestic abuse.

At Hampton Trust, we agree with all its key asks:

  • more and better funding for specialist perpetrator service provision
  • prioritisation of data and evidence
  • making justice work, and
  • a clear focus on prevention.

However, as a leading provider delivering a range of domestic abuse perpetrator interventions and training across the UK, we have some additional asks to add and key points to highlight:

1. Legislation to enable the implementation of perpetrator early interventions must be progressed urgently.

Early last year, we welcomed the launch of the Home Office’s Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Intervention Fund, which allowed many Police and Crime Commissioners to fund much needed perpetrator interventions in their area, in particular CARA or similar interventions that follow CARA principles.

However, more than one year on, the delayed reform of the Out of Court Resolution Framework means many police forces are still waiting for the new legislation to be published before being able to progress fully with the various requirements of implementing early perpetrator interventions. While in March the CPS/DPP announced that in the interim, police forces would be permitted to use out of court resolutions for standard risk domestic abuse cases, the official start date for this is now not anticipated before 1 August.

This delay in implementing proven ways to reduce reoffending in standard risk domestic abuse cases has meant countless missed opportunities across the UK to break the cycle of abuse and keep victims safe.

2. There must be quality standards for CARA-based interventions that are embedded in the criminal justice system as part of the Out of Court Resolution Framework.

The majority of reputable perpetrator services work to the nationally agreed standards for perpetrator interventions, with many being Respect accredited to certify their compliance. Whilst this approach is suitable for voluntary, community based interventions, it is not suitable for criminal justice interventions where delivery is shared with police.

In our experience, more than half of the quality of CARA delivery is determined by the standard of police delivery. At Hampton Trust we have produced detailed guidance and handbooks for police forces to ensure quality standards are met. To ensure CARA-based interventions developed by other organisations remain safe for victims and effective within the criminal justice system, we must agree on national quality standards based on the significant evidence base collected by CARA in the last ten years.

3. A shift in focus towards a whole-system approach to respond to domestic abuse perpetrators must be underpinned by an increase in funding for training.

If we want to shift the approach to the perpetration of domestic abuse from a purely criminal justice lens to a wider, multi-agency response with prevention at its heart, we must equip agencies with the knowledge, competence and confidence to identify and engage domestic abuse perpetrators before their behaviour escalates. This can only be done through dedicated funding for robust training.

Our innovative DARE Toolkit has been specifically developed to meet the training needs of multiple frontline agencies that are in contact with families every single day. It is currently being rolled out to 1,000 professionals across Gloucestershire using our DARE Champion model, embedding a routine enquiry approach to identifying and engaging with domestic abuse perpetrators across frontline teams in social care, children’s services, substance abuse services and others. Many other regions have recognised the value of this approach and its benefits in improving the quality of referrals into specialist perpetrator services; however, implementation is hindered by the lack of allocated funding.

Through our close partnership work with police forces across the UK, other leading agencies in the domestic abuse field and many third sector providers, we know that there is the genuine ambition to provide safe, high quality interventions for domestic abuse perpetrators and enable a true multi-agency approach. Now it is on the next government to remove the legislative barriers and provide much needed funding to enable all agencies to play their part.

Chantal Hughes, Chief Executive