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Crime and Security Research Institute funds new reseach into domestic violence

14 December 2017

cracked brick wall

There has been almost no innovation in the area of work with perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse in the past 10 years.

The key blocks to progress are the lack of evidence about who to work with, the absence of practical tools to support the decisions of practitioners and the confidence of areas to test new approaches. In 2016, police and partner agencies started to challenge this unsatisfactory status quo by embarking on significant change initiatives in their local communities.

With funding from the Crime & Security Research Institute, new research has been undertaken to understand the work of the three innovative pilots that have been established in Hampshire, Dyfed Powys and Greater Manchester. Each pilot area has incorporated the PPIT into their working practices in order to establish a more robust identification and referral pathway for priority domestic abuse perpetrators.

The Priority Perpetrator Identification Tool (PPIT) is a two-page form designed from practitioner knowledge and research evidence to identify a subset of perpetrators considered the most dangerous, and thus priorities for multi-agency monitoring and management. The PPIT was developed and widely disseminated through a programme of research projects initiated in 2013 and led by Professor Amanda Robinson with funding from Welsh Government, Wales Probation Trust, National Offender Management Service and ESRC.

This newest study, which took place between January and November 2017, was designed to assess the strengths and limitations of each of the three pilots, compare the perpetrator cohorts being identified through the use of the PPIT, identify the strategies being undertaken to manage these individuals, and gather the perceptions of the practitioners involved about the effectiveness of these new arrangements. The research adopted a mixed method approach comprising interviews with practitioners (n=18) a number of site visits and a quantitative analysis of monitoring data of perpetrators (n=513) coming through the PPIT pilots.

This timely new evidence helps to illustrate the many ways that practitioners can work together to create meaningful change in how domestic abuse is tackled in local areas. Practitioners across the three sites viewed the pilots as representing an important step change in the way the most dangerous domestic abuse perpetrators are identified and managed across statutory and non-statutory agencies. The focus upon using the PPIT to identify the risk and needs of the perpetrator was described by some as a move towards a more proactive approach in breaking the domestic abuse cycle of repeat and serial victimisation.

Key benefits of the PPIT highlighted by practitioners

  1. that it includes a focus on psychological as well as physical harm
  2. it helps widen the multi-agency focus to include the perpetrator as well as the victim
  3. a more proactive and preventative approach to identify perpetrators is facilitated through its use
  4. that it’s a user-friendly tool that helps to inform practitioners’ professional judgment.

It is important to acknowledge that this is a very complex area of work, which requires partnership working across multiple agencies to address offending that is both high volume and which can also be highly harmful to adults as well as children. Professor Amanda Robinson explains “Practitioners working in these areas should be enormously proud of the innovative approaches they have developed. Their new ways of working are more informed, targeted and collaborative, allowing them to effectively disrupt, manage and engage with these highly dangerous perpetrators.”

Further research is required to systematically evaluate the full range of outcomes that are possible from these initiatives as well as accessing the views of those perpetrators and victims directly affected by these new working arrangements. Opportunities for mutual learning and critical reflection on practice should be provided to support practitioners and to help build a community of practice of key stakeholders engaged in this type of work.

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New report on Priority Perpetrator Identification Tool initiatives, to understand the work of the three innovative pilots.