New initiatives to better protect victims and those at risk of domestic violence in Northamptonshire are finding success as offences are rising in the county.
In the past month, 853 domestic violence offences were recorded, more than 16 per cent of all recorded crimes in the county and up almost 17 per cent compared to the same time last year.
To tackle this, Northamptonshire Police is piloting an educational scheme for offenders called Preventing Intimate Partner Abuse (PIPA) which has been successful in London.
Domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs).are also being used in Northamptonshire more than anywhere else in the East Midlands.
These protect victims through perpetrators' bail conditions when there is not enough evidence to charge them.
Chief Inspector Julie Mead, who is the force lead for adult vulnerability, said: “The increase in reports of domestic violence is encouraging as it proves victims are becoming more confident at reporting offences.
“Our use of DVPOs has been referenced as good practice in a recent HMICFRS (Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire Service) inspection report and we are also proud to be piloting project PIPA.
“Often victims of domestic abuse don’t want their family to be torn apart – they want to stay with their partners and live safely with them.
"The project helps offenders understand the negative elements of their relationship so they can make changes after reflecting on the harm their behaviour is causing.
“We work closely with the courts, the criminal justice unit and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), with monthly meetings to review and revise all cases to make sure we’re working effectively together.
"This force takes domestic abuse very seriously indeed and we have one of the highest arrest rates in the country for this type of crime.”
PIPA is used when if on first contact a domestic abuse incident meets the ‘low harm’ threshold, offenders are given a conditional caution and must agree to five sessions to help them gain an insight into their behaviours and increase their motivation to make long-term changes.
So far, a total of 16 offenders have completed the programme funded from the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner - if it is deemed successful, it will be adopted indefinitely.
Northamptonshire police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold said: “I was pleased to be able to bring Project PIPA to Northamptonshire as it is based on the best evidence of what works to make the perpetrators of domestic abuse understand the impact of their behaviour on their partner and children and to stop the abuse.
"It also ensures the victim’s wishes are at the heart of the process, as they have to agree to the offender taking part in the project.
"We are still very early on in the pilot scheme, but the offenders will be tracked over a period of two years to measure Project PIPA’s effectiveness in stopping people who have admitted abuse from offending again.
“I am confident that this groundbreaking approach will be a real change with better outcomes for victims and I thank my team and the police officers involved who have worked hard to bring this to Northamptonshire.”
DVPOs allow police and magistrates’ courts to put in place protective measures in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident where there is insufficient evidence to charge a perpetrator.
They are designed to protect victims via bail conditions and 23 have been issued in the past month, the highest number in the East Midlands region.
Fiona Campbell, the chief executive of Voice for Victims and Witnesses said: “Voice knows how difficult it can be to speak out or seek help after you have been a victim of domestic abuse, but it is never too late to do so and Voice is here to assist you.
"Voice is a free and confidential support service for anyone living in Northamptonshire who has been a victim or witness of crime.
"The crime does not have to have been reported to the Police and it doesn’t matter when or where the crime was committed - Voice is here to offer support.
"Being a victim of crime can be life changing but you don’t have to face this alone, whatever your situation Voice Specialist Caseworkers are here to assist you, you can contact us on 0300 303 1965 or at www.voicenorthants.org. “