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PCC secures £200,352 from Home Office for countywide delivery of ‘They Matter’ programme

After a successful pilot study, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall has secured £200,352 from the Home Office 2021-22 Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Programme fund, to extend the They Matter programme across the county, aimed at reducing the risk to victims of abuse, by supporting the perpetrator to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions.

Developed from Victim Support’s successful Turning the Spotlight (TTS) project, an early intervention programme that address behaviours within a relationship that are either abusive or have the potential to become abusive, the ‘They Matter’ programme, in partnership with Children’s Services, Police, IOM, Probation, is aimed at perpetrators who are at high risk of causing harm.

Peter McCall comments: “To reduce the number and severity of incidences of domestic abuse, we need to do more to reduce the causes, and to make victims feel that they have options and do not have to accept the situation, especially as so many perpetrators are repeat offenders.

“Our first focus will always be to make sure that victims are put first and that specialist support services meet their needs as a priority.

“However, too often, perpetrators are not held to account and by providing specialist intervention programmes such as They Matter, future abusive behaviour can be reduced and perpetrators dealt with.

“They Matter is one just one option in a range of interventions in Cumbria, decided in partnership by way of the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Committee (MARAC) procedure as suitable for high risk/high harm perpetrators, following a robust family assessment of conflict, violence and abuse.

“This highly interactive programme takes the participants through a series of discussions, exercises and reflective activities about ‘relationships’ based on self-awareness, behaviour change skills and evaluation of quality of life, from the victim’s perspective.

“It only works with perpetrators who display some level of acknowledgement that their behaviour within intimate and familial relationships is unhealthy, harmful and wrong. For example, with perpetrators who are motivated to change.”

Head of the Public Protection, Detective Superintendent Dan StQuintin said: “They Matter’ is a welcome addition to the behaviour programmes available to domestic abuse perpetrators.  Whilst officers can pursue any criminality in a domestic abuse incident, the new programme provides an additional opportunity to address and positively change the behaviour of a high-level domestic abuse offender.

“By addressing the behaviour and offering support, there is a real opportunity to reduce repeat offending as well as improve the lives of those involved.”

Lee Evans, Area Manager at Cumbria Victim Support comments: ‘With the support of the PCC, Victim Support Cumbria is so pleased to be able to build on and develop They Matter as part of our successful Turning the Spotlight programme, to work with those whose behaviour and actions are causing high levels of harm.

“Too often the focus is on the victim’s behaviour and what they need to change rather than those perpetrating the abuse. Nationally there are very few specialist interventions that challenge, account for and change behaviour. As domestic abuse reports, including stalking, have increased during Covid, these preventative approaches are essential in order to reduce the risk of future abuse so more people can live free of fear and harm in Cumbria.”

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