Cafcass: The Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service

Early intervention work with domestic abusers, so-called perpetrators Our 25 year old charitable service offers work to domestic abusers and perpetrators of domestic violence. Notice the difference in the use of those two words.  More than 1,100 men and more than 120 women have completed the work 100%, more than 95% of women and more than 90% of men have completed all the work. The vast majority of people make very significant progress and consequently changes in their behaviours.

We do this by means of engaging with the people in intensive, therapeutically informed ways. The problems are intense and intimate consequently the work also needs to be intense and intimate. This service is dedicated to  women. We recognise that either or both men and women may have problems with their behaviours and the underlying emotions which drive those behaviours. (It is emotions which drive behaviours, not attitudes and nor is it in more than 80% of cases a desire for “male power and control”, as an ideaology would mistakenly have you believe !)

Costs for our service are £30 for the initial one hour assessment, whenever possible in the individual’s own home or close to where they live, but now, since the virus this is more likely to be conducted via Whats Ap or by Zoom at a cost of £25. £480 for the 36 hours of work over two weekends, usually about a month apart, or individual counselling.on an appropriate basis. For individuals that need reports for the court or social services a fee of between £75 and £175 is charged, depending upon the complexity of the case and the report needed. For those people on benefits the costs are 1/10 of the above. Costs for Social Services / Cafcass referrals are £100 more for each of the above steps with a concluding report costing £380.

Therapeutically based practices are what is required. In our case more than 95% of those women that begin the work complete it, 100% In the past a very significant poportion have been referred by social services.

The Police: As a first line of safety the police are often called to a domestic fracas, either by someone who is being abused or by neighbours, children or other family members.

Historically the police have had very little use for perpetrator programmes for men. ACPO – The Association for Chief Police Officers found very little to support them in their publication in 2009. Doubtless their reasons will have been “cost” and very, very poor completion statistics of the mainline projects all focused on “power and control”, and gendered according to radical feminist beliefs.

In many areas the police have been required to take positive action, which could mean, “arrest someone” – i.e. to effectively separate the couple. They may have been aware about who was mainly responsible but, with the underlying beliefs that women often look after children better than men and that men are less complaining than women, they tend to arrest the man and cart him off for a night in the cells, guilty or not. This was what we found when we “researched” the changes from the start of the new policy

The statistics demonstrated very clearly that for every 7 call outs to a female victim there were 5 call outs to a male victim. That proportion changed quite dramatically once the “arrest someone” practice became embedded. People learnt and responded accordingly. But the most likely scenario is that a couple both wanted the partner – but without the violence.

Northampton Police pre-arrest statistics and post arrest statistics – abstracted from FOI info.

Northampton male vic f male vic Male arrest female arrest

2003 – 2004 1228 2051 2 0

2004 – 2005 1228 2051 2 0

2005-2006 1777 2704 535 186

2009 -10 208 836 764 123

2010 -11 210 879 792 116

2011 -12 213 867 566 97

Victims and perpetrators: domestic abuse.  Preventing violence to women and girls.

Why current policies will only ever increase violence rather than stop or reduce it.

If the primary source of abuse is men – you need to be able to work with them!

If the secondary source is women – you need to be able to work with them, too!

To do that you have to meet with, engage with and work with people that are abusive and address their problems!

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,   (a paper written in 2016)

We’ve  worked with domestic abusers for the last 20 years, 18 of which have been spent in working in the West Midlands and 17 years in Northampton from late 1995 until  2013.

For the last 3.5 years we have worked in North West London.  

Our statistics for last year are linked here, with no distinction made between the ½ project, Eddie Thomas Project in London and the ½ project, West Midlands Project in Birmingham.  You’ll see that we basically completed 36 hours work with 56 people last year, 39 of whom were referred by Social Services.

That will sound like a very, very small numbers when compared with  Police statistics on domestic abuse  until you read the MIRABAL research into 4 “RESPECT accredited domestic abuser projects.” It could find only 36 men prepared to undertake an interview following completion of a Duluth style, “accredited” programme.  P 8.

I would also point out that just 1 of those 4 projects, DVIP in London,  RESPECT’s flagship,  probably expended about £220K plus for the abuser aspect of its work, historically with 22 effective completions in a year.  Our income was less than £10K no naughts missing! – although a properly financed project to deliver what we in fact delivered would have been about £60k.

On the subject of why isn’t very much more work being done with abusers you need to understand the finances driven by a policy of “Preventing violence to women and girls.”

To that end this paper is very clearly illustrative.   It demonstrates that “all” the money goes to the very many projects supporting Women’s Aid’s female  victims “women and Girls”.

(When at a recent meeting our colleague, Brian, mentioned “male victims” this apparently irritated one person, who immediately stated 95% of victims are women.  Let’s be clear, the Northamptonshire police FOI statistics I have, reported calls to every 14 female victims there were 9 male victims.  Whatever drives the arrests may be unclear but there were between 7 & 9 of 10 average arrests of men – each area differing slightly and there were between 3 and 4 of 10 arrests of women. Men were at least twice as likely to get arrested. This might just, of course, have to do with the “severity” the police found, or it might have something to do with separating children from their mothers, or other things.”

My own research, less national and more local, indicated that in Northamptonshire, population  694k, with, according to Women’s Aid’s 1 in 4 women suffering DV in their lifetime, there would be   66k female victims  over the women’s lifetime. The ACPO (association of Chief Police Officers) 2009 paper estimated the number of “serial male abusers”  nationwide as, in round figures, 25,000. So if I called them “Snakes” – as did Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence, 1996, and just 1 in 50 of them lived in Northamptonshire, that would mean 500 “serial” abusers in Northamptonshire.  The rest, I suggest, would be “pit-bulls”, i.e. highly susceptible to emotional outbursts. These kind of “ball-park” figures are very adjacent to the research of pro-feminist Prof Michael P Johnson and “gender inclusive” researchers,  Profs John Archer and Nicola Graham-Kevan.

My simple researches into finance went along these lines.

Northamptonshire Front Line female victim servicesIncome 2014
Wellingborough & East Northamptonshire Women’s Aid – Wellingborough, East Northamptonshire, Corby and Kettering.387,671
The Sunflower Centre – Northamptonshire – Northampton and Corby424,906
Northampton Women’s Aid – Northamptonshire.891,113
Nene Valley Christian Family Refuge – Northamptonshire.577,353

There was £2,281,043 available to be spent on supporting female victims, via just these  4 projects.

In the West Midlands my research established an income of just 7 main projects of

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid –3,579,3663,491,703
Stepping Stones – Walsall.277,117336,828
Gilgal, Birmingham – Birmingham.328,838341,255
Coventry Haven – Coventry.428,621380,095
The Birmingham Crisis Centre – Birmingham765,956683,611
Sandwell Women’s Aid – Sandwell and Dudley.1,604,4501,636,481
The Haven, Wolverhampton – Wolverhampton.2,470,2012,391,344

So, financially there is little wonder that there is virtually no work being undertaken with abusers.

Any clues as to why that would be?

Well, it’s mainly a question of Women’s Aid’s and Refuge’s strategy to ensure that they achieve maximum funding, preferably exclusive funding, for their projects!

Let us now turn to the very, very little work that has been and is being undertaken with abusers.

The Duluth Abuser programme was set up in America in Duluth, Minesota in the mid 1970s mainly by Ellen Pence and Michael  Paymar.  It became a virtually mandatory response for the criminal justice system  throughout many American states .  

Not surprisingly when early initiatives in the UK were trying to understand what work needed to be undertaken they went to America to learn from the Americans. The two main projects they visited were Duluth and the Man Alive project.

Effectively they bought those programmes “off the shelf” and returned with them to the UK, but mainly with Duluth. The Probation service trialled them and introduced them into what was later to become IDAP. The rather grand “roll out” was  about 2004   and damp squid “roll up” was  about 2011 when  IDAP was discontinued when no doubt it had become clear that there were very few, virtually no effective outcomes!

CHANGE was an early UK abuser project  – initiated by and later researched by Dobash and Dobash. The Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP) , set up in Hammersmith  with the permission of Women’s Aid , and no doubt REFUGE, began to work with abusers in the very early 90s, too. 

Dobash and Dobash established from CHANGE and the Caledonian Project that a 70% effectiveness rate could be expected  from an abuser programme.  The research was based on just  46 men over 6 years who completed the programmes!

What the researchers have said about DVIP?

The Joseph Rowntree sponsored research into DVIP in 1998 pointed out the enormous number of drop-outs – a problem which needed to be addressed. They also pointed out the  internal conflict resulting from working with both male abusers and female victims within the same organisation.  According to the book “Coordinating Responses to Domestic Violence, Lessons from Duluth and beyond”  DVIP was within very few days of going bust when an anonymous donation “saved them”.  

Crime Reduction Research Series, Audrey Mullender, University of Warwick,

and Sheila Burton, University of North London January 2000Reporting on DVIP research

“Only 6 people could be found and interviewed who had completed a substantial amount.”

All perpetrator programmes must be aware of, and take steps to address, the issue of low completion rates.” 

2006 – 2008 South Tyneside: Evaluation of the South Tyneside Domestic Abuse

Perpetrator Programme (STDAPP) 2006-2008 Final Report June 2009 Dr Emma Williamson

& Professor Marianne Hester.

“4. Interviews with male clients/ perpetrators (Phase 1 N=18, Phase 2 N=3) (p.12)

“The 18 men who were interviewed (at stage 1) were asked … how they came to be in contact with the STDAPP service and about their previous help-seeking behaviour (appendix 1). In addition, the men were asked to complete an inventory of controlling behaviours (appendix 2)7.

The intention was to carry out follow-up interviews with all the men interviewed in Phase 1 who completed the programme. However, not least because many of the men did not complete the programme, it proved extremely difficult to get the men to agree to take part in the follow-up. Three of the original 18 men were interviewed in this phase.”

“50 referrals were from Children’s Services. Of these 50 cases, 43 had been closed by October 2008 with only 1 man completing and only 3 progressing on to the group programme.”

In 2015 the £1.2m Mirabal research project, commissioned by RESPECT,  essentially confirmed all that was previously known before, i.e.  36 men who had completed in one of 4 projects running, no doubt, at least 7 programmes. In other words there were on average 5 men per programme willing to submit to a feedback interview / questionnaire.  Just why would that be?

The most likely answer is that very, very few of those men felt that they had been engaged with and that their problems had been aired and adequately worked with.

Of course if you read the executive summary the percentages look OK – read the main paper, pages 8 and 9 and you see just how little they are based on!

The accreditor’s credentials and our experience:

With “Duluth” coming from America and DVIP being an early starter and based in London it was not surprising that DVIP became an early player. Dobash and Dobash provided the early “positive research”, on essentially a very similar project, apart from the time involved.

Most of the early projects either followed Duluth or DVIP’s model, which was essentially Duluth. So the meetings of the National Practitioners Network, those organisations that were working early with domestic abusers, were mainly singing from the same sheet music. There were probably two programmes which were different, The Everyman Project in London which later became Ahimsa in Plymouth and a project in Cardiff which the NSPCC later changed to a Duluth project, as I understand it. Somewhat later the STOPP programme in Leeds joined RESPECT and also The Brave project in Bradford. I name these projects because they were essentially different from Duluth.   STOPP were also offering work with female abusers, as far as I am aware we were the only two organisations doing this outside the prison service. Encouraged by STOPP’s acceptance by RESPECT (because of the female abuser issue) we also sought membership in 2004. RESPECT’s requirements of us were that we should give up working with women in mixed groups and that we should extend our work to at least 6 months.  There was and is absolutely no evidence for why either of these requirements should pertain, but, for a year, we agreed not to work with female abusers in mixed groups. We then discovered that our programme was omitted from all RESPECT literature, despite our membership. It became perfectly clear that this was an ideological manoeuvre.  Recorded female violence around this time had moved from “4.7%”  in 1995 to “14.7%”.

RESPECT was “appointed” by the DFE (Department for Education) in 2000. It was then moved to the MOJ in 2014.  The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published the following paper in 2013.

Ministry of Justice (2013)

Transforming Rehabilitation

Ministry of Justice Analytical Series

p24/25   (My underlining! The link is in the title below.)

“Offending behaviour programmes for domestic violence offenders

There are two popular approaches to working with domestic violence offenders: the cognitive behavioural approach and the Duluth Model, which involves various elements including educational programmes and cognitive behavioural techniques.153

What is the impact on reoffending? The most recent systematic review of US evidence indicates that the Duluth Model appears to have no effect on recidivism.154

However, this review also identified substantial reductions in domestic violence reoffending by offenders who had attended other interventions.

These interventions varied widely in their approach (including cognitive behavioural therapy, relationship enhancement and group couples counselling), and the reviewers were therefore unable to make recommendations about specific preferred alternatives to the Duluth Model. Some earlier reviews have identified modest reductions in reoffending following perpetrator programmes,155 while others have concluded that such programmes have a limited impact on domestic violence, highlighting a lack of robust evidence.156 One review has focused upon the effectiveness of court-mandated interventions aimed at domestic violence perpetrators in the USA.157 It identified a modest reduction in official reports of repeated domestic violence incidents for those who received the intervention compared with those who did not. However, there was no difference between the two groups when looking at victim reported outcomes.* Because these are viewed as a more reliable measure than official reports the authors concluded that the evidence did not offer strong support for court-mandated treatment.”

From this paper it became clear that the lack of effectiveness of IDAP had been perceived and that very probably the same applied to all the community programmes which were based on Duluth, i.e all those that had followed DVIP’s model, on which RESPECT set so much store.

Some of you will be hoping and expecting much more work to be undertaken with abusers.

Some of you may well be looking to organise / commission the training recommended by RESPECT so that your local projects  can later potentially become “accredited” more easily.

RESPECT will probably advise you to follow PAI PACT’s training, not least because it is likely be led by Kate Iwi and Dr Chris Newman.  The programme they will be training you in is likely to be the revised version of a programme that Kate Iwi and Jo Todd, CEO of RESPECT, co-wrote when they were working for DVIP which was so badly criticised by the Joseph Rowntree Trust research back in 1998! They will probably claim that they have made vast improvements to it over the years. Personally I would sincerely hope they had. They were very badly shocked when I pointed out the Late Ellen Pence’s observations about “power and control” – which somebody has now kindly included in wikepedia criticism. Other severe criticisms of the relationship between RESPECT and DVIP made at that same meeting seem to have caused RESPECT to no longer hold “National Practitioner Meetings”.  They have therefore very largely cut  themselves off from any ideas which are likely to help them to develop their thinking away from the “power and control” model.  As several former clients of theirs have told us – 3 within the last year, everything is “power and control”  – by the 23rd session 1 man had still not even seen the “equality wheel” – if, as he said, it ever existed! 

The real trouble for RESPECT is that the Mirabal Research published in Jan 2015 essentially re-discovered exactly the same problems that had been flagged up in 1998 by JRT.  No progress there then!

The copy I have of Pai Pact’s  training  manual from 2013 indicates that they were very likely to have exactly the same problems at that time, nearly 20 years later!

In terms of cost effectiveness according to their own claims and financial expenditure, DVIP’s effective completion cost per head was £10k per year, in other words £¼ M for 25 men!  Here is the Home Office select committee parliamentary transcript, where Mr Jamal (CEO of DVIP) seems to be saying the cost is somewhere between £5 an £6k depending on how you calculate it!  DVIP’s accounts, etc, here, for the sake of clarity! The ACPO paper quoted above (p 62)  seems to focus on Mr Jamal’s DVIP  figures, £5,400 per place, which sounded pleasantly cheap compared with the price of £7,250 which was the official cost of an IDAP place in a project which had been described as “resource hungry.”

Compared with the current estimated cost of supporting a female victim for a year £23k  from the above document or £2,400 (from the back of my envelope) depending on how you calculate it, that is still very cheap, but looked at from the point of view of the men that have to pay for their attendance it is anything but cheap.  26 – 32 sessions at £70 per session for those with income around £40K. (Plus for the man’s separated living costs and no doubt solicitors, too.) Looked at from the point of view of a sponsoring agency the DVIP costs are simply horrendous!  The costs, coupled with the negligible outcomes are probably part of the reason why the ACPO paper 2009 was completely unable to recommend the usage of DV programmes.  As good as no researchable outcomes was probably the other reason!

No doubt that was all part of the original game plan, orchestrated between Women’s Aid, Refuge and elements of DVIP in 1989 and later via RESPECT in 2000. It is just being worked through!

 The above is basically the outline of the strategy imposed on the Domestic Violence agenda by mainly the interests of a small group of people. No doubt it brings enormous satisfaction to the CEO of one organisation who derives an income and pensions contribution very adjacent to £250 k per year and of course with an income of more than £295 million per year more than 370 local Women’s Aid organisations sustain efforts to support about 12,650 women (plus children – on average just over 1 child per woman) and provide for a staff of about 7,700 women, not of course all full time, and probably a large number of additional volunteers, too.

So what work needs to be undertaken with abusers?

Firstly in a just and equal society the work needs to be available to both men and women, because both men and women will be abusers, just as both men and women are victims. And of course the children in such relationships experience no real difference between male violence and female violence.  The implicit emotional abuse experienced by the child applies to its mother’s violence as well as to its father’s. Does every child really matter? 

Secondly for the vast majority of clients power and control is not a major issue! The late Ellen Pence!

Coercive control: Is the next target of the current thinking.  Johnson’s figures indicate 7 men per 1,000 and 5 women per 1,000 are coercive controllers before separation.  Post separation Johnson’s figures indicate 22.7% of men and 4.7%  of women become coercive controllers.

Very highly alarming as those figures are, of course 66.3% of men are not coercive controllers even following separation – so why would work with all male domestic abusers focus on male power and control – after all that proportion of female abusers, according to RESPECT does not even merit work being undertaken with them! – when females abuse, of course, the women are just “retaliating” – hear the minimisation and denial in that? – whilst men, similarly placed, are taking their revenge!

The work with abusers needs to focus on establishing just what are the causes of violent behaviour for each separate individual. Those causes are very likely to be historical and work with each individual’s “autobiographical memory” is mainly the starting point of what is required, coupled with the new skills developed for the purpose of helping to develop that autobiographical memory and also for maintaining a non-violent, abusive position in a couple relationship.

Here the problems become multiple and not easily described and certainly not described in a soundbyte. I would say they require a fairly comprehensive understanding of couple dynamics, not of gender politics, and relatively speaking years of training, rather than the “at least 5 days” advocated as the minimum by RESPECT !  Linked here is a diagrammatical outline of some causes. In this instance a developmental model is used, an attachment model could be similarly used, but the focus on emotions enables a focus on a much wider range of underlying causes.

Linked here is a diagrammatical illustration of 8 primary emotions from which to begin to understand a process of “working with emotions” and linked here our simple  illustration of the primacy of emotion as now much more clearly illustrated by Siegel’s work. 

In terms of costs the ACPO paper 2009, “Preventing violence to women and girls” produced statistics that there were in round figures 25,000 serial male domestic abusers in UK (p28).   On page 62 they calculated the cost of “treating” 10% of those men, i.e. 2,500 as being £13.5m at a unit cost of £5,400 per man, significantly below that Probation cost of £7,250! (And about ½ the cost of an “effective outcome”!)

The trouble is that in the DVIP / RESPECT mould less than 25% of those men would complete the programme, so about, in round figures 600 men,  and DVIP would expect 70% of them to make effective use of that programme, so 420 men.

At a unit cost of less than £1,000 per head we would expect to exceed the 420 men figure with in round figures £600,000, i.e 10 programmes, nationwide,  producing between  600 and 960 places per year. Alternatively it would cost just  over £2m to achieve the police’s 10% national target for intervention, compared with £13.5m on their current costings. 

Put those figures into the context of the amounts of money spend in female victim services in a) Northamptonshire upwards of £2.3m and b) Birmingham upwards of of £9.5m the amounts of money are relatively trivial.  

As exposed by the BBC on the very recent child abuse / death case in Derbyshire, 2/3rds of child abuse is by women!  It makes you think, doesn’t it!  More recently the “death by foster carer”  in Birmingham makes me worry even more!

The no doubt highly trained and presumably, I would hope,  monitored foster carer of a little girl in Birmingham was recently convicted of the most horrendous   catalogue of abuse and murder. She got 17 years.

Women are all victims. Hello! Men are all abusers. Hello! 

That is the way that current policy is being exploited.

When you inhabit such a sexist mind-set you blind yourself to reality!  There are very substantially more male victims than Women’s Aid are prepared to concede, and probably rather fewer female victims than they claim, too, at least in the UK!  In terms of domestic violence boys are just as damaged by their bad domestic violence experiences as girls – why would one work only with girls to protect them?  Are not their brothers and in some cases their twins not deserving of equal treatment?  By failing to engage with the abusive people doesn’t the current policy actually risk creating the next generation of male and female abusers and worsening the risks of violence in our families?

Just what is the purpose of the current genderism?   Equality?   I don’t think so! Who profits? What becomes de-stabilised?  Are non-violent families a cornerstone of our society or are there advantages of having lone mothers with children, and, in about 20% of cases, lone fathers with children?  What becomes of the hopes and aspirations of the disenfranchised Grand-parents which often result from the outcomes of current policies?

David Eggins