Refuge responds to Drive perpetrator programme


Responding to the launch of the Drive project, which will give domestic violence perpetrators one-to-one support to change their behaviour, Refuge chief executive, Sandra Horley CBE, says:

“Refuge is gravely concerned about prioritising perpetrator programmes over services for women and children escaping domestic violence. The Drive project is backed by Police and Crime Commissioners and by local authorities. At whose expense are these violent men being helped?

“The women’s refuge sector is being decimated. Refuge has experienced funding cuts to 80% of its services since 2011. Some of our services have had their funding cut by 50%. Finding a refuge space is like finding gold dust. How can we justify spending money on therapy for perpetrators when terrified and brutalised women and children have nowhere to go?

“There is no evidence that perpetrator programmes are effective in stopping men being violent towards their partners in the long run. Some men may refrain from physical violence in the short term, and meanwhile learn to substitute it with other more subtle forms of abuse to induce fear and maintain control over their partners. Domestic violence is not about the actions of individual men, it is a social problem. Helping a handful of perpetrators – it is expected that 900 offenders will be asked to take part in the Drive programme over the next three years – will do nothing to address the root causes of domestic violence. Domestic violence is all about power and control. It is not about managing the perpetrator’s anger or his drinking problems – it is about addressing his need to control ‘his woman’.

“Society needs to hold perpetrators accountable for their violent behaviour. The most effective way to do this is to arrest and charge them. We need to be sending a strong message to abusive men and to the public: that domestic violence is against the law and there will be serious consequences. The police response to domestic violence in this country is lamentable, as evidenced by two investigations carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). We live in a world of finite resources. Funds should be spent on improving police response to domestic violence and ensuring that women and children fleeing violence have somewhere to go.

“Of course, in an ideal world we would tackle the problem of domestic violence from both sides. Our world is far from ideal; two women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. Until there is a robust, well-funded infrastructure of services to help all women and children living in fear of violent men, Refuge seriously questions any decisions to channel funds in this way.”

For more information, please contact the Refuge press office on 0207 395 7731 or email