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Hampshire’s Project Foundation and the “ugly truth” of domestic abuse

Hampshire’s DA intervention and diversion scheme, Project Foundation, was recently rolled out force-wide. It sees Neighbourhood based High Harm Teams making unannounced visits to repeat domestic abusers.

The Home Office funded project has a particular focus on perpetrators who have committed abuse in settings where children are present. This filter was chosen not only because of the higher risk of these cases, but  because they have found that many perpetrators of domestic abuse have themselves been victims of it in their childhood. 

DCI David West, Head of Offender Management and lead for Domestic Abuse perpetrator response, told Police Oracle that given the sheer numbers of perpetrators, they needed to find some way of filtering out those they would target through the project. 

“We focused on that 18 to 30 age group who are generally the most difficult to engage and who, in our experience, demonstrate the highest level of harmful behaviours as well as the widest impacts on families,” he told Police Oracle. 

“They're also likely to have experienced domestic abuse in their own childhoods - they may well pose the same risks to children in their lives as a result of their own trauma.

“Focusing on perpetrators who have offended in the presence of a child or otherwise impacted a child is not just a factor that indicates a higher risk or a greater need to safeguard and share information with partners, but actually, if we take a long term view on it, we are we are reducing the potential for abuse in the future.” 

Hampshire have partnered with the Hampton Trust on this project. One of the roles this organisation fills is using the Priority Perpetrator Identification Tool to assess the risk perpetrators present through looking at elements including the frequency and severity of offending and whether there is more than one victim. 

DCI West explained that having the Hampton Trust identify priorities reduces any potential risk of bias. 

“It’s a unique and powerful aspect of Project Foundation that we allow, and have the trust and confidence, in Hampton Trust to identify our risk and our demand to then manage that within the community,” he said. 

“We’re asking our Neighbourhood High Harm Teams to manage risk in the community and they've got conflicting priorities. When you're asking them to identify a domestic abuse perpetrator for management in the community among a list of very many, and at the same time they've got potential exploitation risks, potential county line risks or potential firearm risks - it’s unsurprising really, that some bias might affect which risk gets managed and gets the police resources.” 

The risk that a perpetrator might retaliate and cause further harm to victims is addressed through the victim safety planning aspect of a MAPPA risk management plan. 

The purpose of the scheme is to remind offenders that they are known to the police but also to try and get them to engage with services and make referrals through the Hampton Trust. 

This unfortunately is not always successful and does at times lead to the force moving certain cases from proactive management to more reactive management. 

DCI West explained: “We need to be quite confident and disciplined in our approach. When we have exhausted our tactical options to manage that risk, and there is an absence of intelligence […] that we put it down [into more reactive management]. And then we then we are free to pick up the next domestic abuse perpetrator because that is the ugly truth - that there will always be another domestic abuse perpetrator that we will need to commit time to manage.” 

The project is subject to evaluation by the University of Southampton.

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