Counselling scheme cuts domestic violence offences

family law

A counselling scheme for first-time offenders in domestic violence cases has reportedly cut further incidents by almost a third.

Researchers from Cambridge University focused on 300 men who had been arrested by Hampshire Police for different types of domestic abuse, such as assault, threatening behaviour or criminal damage. None of them had a criminal record before the offending incident. The group was split into two, with the first receiving ‘conditional cautions’. This means that if they committed another crime sometime in the following four months, they would be charged for both that and their original offence.

The second group was made to attend a counselling programme. This consisted of two five-hour group sessions held a month apart. Between five and seven participants would meet with a counsellor at a time and talk about themselves and what led to their criminal act. The focus of these sessions was on convincing the men to recognise where they had gone wrong and motivate them to change for the better.

When the two groups were compared, researchers found that those who had attended counselling were 27 per cent less likely to cause further harm to their loved ones than the people who had only been cautioned.

Cambridge University Criminology Professor Heather Strang said she had carried out this study “with very little expectation that it would be successful, but what we found is the potential to make a difference”.

Her team estimated that for every 1,000 first-time offenders who take part in this programme, there would be 380 fewer assaults as a result.

Strang claimed:

“No other programme to our knowledge now has such strong evidence of yielding a substantial reduction in harm to victims of domestic abuse.”

A report on these findings was co-authored by Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton. He explained that “police have been told to arrest and prosecute” domestic abusers for decades. However, this research indicates a better way is possible and that “first and foremost our aim has got to be to get a better service to the victim”.

Earlier this week, research from the Ministry of Justice suggested that reoffending rates for those in prison can fall by as much as 39 per cent if they receive regular visits from family members.

Photo by Andrew Beeston via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

Mr T - August 16, 2017 at 12:11pm

Hardly surprising that the study is all men?? The law and courts need to get away from the assumption that it’s all men. There is a massive contingent of unreported or the opposite \ completely wrong way around the assumption of guilt where the female does, in fact, have a disorder.

This whole thing needs urgent reform and needs to be dealt with entirely differently. Mental health professionals need to be involved right from the outset. These needs handling by a separate organisation.

How do I know this? I’ve just been convicted by one when essentially I’ve done nothing wrong or in actual fact, nothing has been proven.

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