Education, not penalties, to tackle domestic violence?
Domestic violence is best tackled through educative programmes rather than through the criminal justice system, according to research carried out by Project Mirabal run by Durham and London Metropolitan Universities.
The research revealed that men who attend domestic violence perpetrator programmes (DVPP) change their behaviour which can lead to long lasting positive outcomes for victims and the rest of their families.
Teresa May, Home Secretary, called on police forces last year to draw up action plans to deal with domestic violence more effectively – following a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which exposed “significant failings” poor victim care and “deficiencies in the collection of evidence.”
The government introduced Domestic Violence Protection Orders to enable police to protect victims immediately after an incident has taken place and the domestic violence disclosure scheme was also introduced last year to enable women to find out if their new partner has a history of violence.
The Mirabal research suggests that the DVPP programmes the Family Courts regularly send domestic violence perpetrators to may be just as successful as the Home Office initiatives. DVPPs are delivered in private law cases, under sections 11A-G Children Act 1989 (as amended by the Children and Adoption Act 2006) as a court ordered activity.
The Mirabal research revealed that 64 per cent of women whose partners had previously used their fists in disagreements said their partners were more willing to negotiate 12 months after beginning a DVPP.
Similarly the number of women who felt their partners restricted their freedom and prevented them from seeing family and friends dropped from 65 per cent before the DVPP to 15 per cent afterwards.
There was an even bigger drop in actual violence. Only 7 per cent of women survey said they had been slapped, pushed or had something thrown at them after the DVPP – compared to 87 per cent beforehand.
Another 53 per cent of the women survey believed their partners showed empathy and better awareness of the impact of their behaviour after the DVPP compared to just 16 per cent who thought so beforehand.