Helping domestic abusers in the North East to change their ways

Jackie Siggins (Wearside Women In Need); Neil Blacklock (Respect); Karen Sibbald (Barnardo's); Kelly Henderson (Gentoo) and Hazel Hedley (Impact Family Services).
Jackie Siggins (Wearside Women In Need); Neil Blacklock (Respect); Karen Sibbald (Barnardo's); Kelly Henderson (Gentoo) and Hazel Hedley (Impact Family Services).

A brand-new multi-agency partnership has been launched in the North East to support perpetrators of domestic violence to change their behaviour, helping to make women victims and their children feel safer.

The BIG project is a partnership between North East Charities Barnardo’s, Impact Family Services, Wearside Women In Need and North-East social enterprise Gentoo Group. The project has been funded by the Police Innovation Fund via Northumbria Police Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “Tackling domestic violence is a priority and working with perpetrators through an intervention scheme like this is key to the work we do in supporting victims. While helping victims to pathways of safety is vital, this is only part of the picture and perpetrators too need help to break the cycle of abuse.”

“Taking the step to seek help through a programme like this is huge but can be life-changing and ultimately life-saving. Domestic abuse is a terrible legacy for families and we must protect the victims and any children to ensure this crime is tackled and we are going to implement this through education.”

Detective Superintendent Lisa Orchard said: “It’s extremely important that victims are given the help and support they need. However, we do recognise the importance of support also being offered to perpetrators so that their behaviour can be addressed and ultimately changed.

“Giving perpetrators the opportunity to talk about the devastating impact their behaviour can have has been proven to help them change and put a stop to any repeat or future incidents.

“We will continue to offer help to victims and want them to know police and support agencies are here to help them take the first step to changing their lives and protecting their children from any further harm.”

The BIG Project has developed a programme that focuses on early intervention, helping men change their behaviour at the earliest opportunity rather than post arrest. The programme uses cognitive behavioural and pre-social concepts and is for men over 18 who perpetrate domestic abuse and want to change their behaviour.

Experienced staff from Impact Family Services and children’s charity Barnardo’s will facilitate the 26-week programme. Men will start with a one-to-one assessment, which will assess their suitability and motivation, as well as start the process of engagement and trust, disclosure and examination of abusive behaviours which are essential before effective work begins. As well as attending four motivational sessions they will undertake seven core modules.