DORSET Police has launched a new programme to protect victims of domestic abuse by challenging and changing the behaviours of serial offenders and those deemed to be the most high-risk.

The DRIVE programme, which is delivered by Southampton based foundation Hampton Trust, is a partnership initiative between Dorset Police, Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, BCP Council and Dorset Council.

The first six months of the programme is funded by a grant from the Home Office.

While many services rightly focus on support for victims, far less put an emphasis on rehabilitation of offenders. DRIVE works directly with perpetrators to challenge and support changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviour.

Dorset Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya said: “We need to change the narrative around domestic abuse and stop asking victims why they didn’t leave and start asking perpetrators why they didn’t stop. That’s exactly what the DRIVE programme does.

“Dorset Police is committed to delivering an outstanding service to the people of Dorset, particularly to those who are most vulnerable. This programme will not only deliver rehabilitation and real behavioural change for domestic abuse offenders, but also the justice that victims so rightly deserve.

“Hampton Trust has done a great job as our delivery partner for the Cautions and Relationship Abuse (CARA) project, and I’m really glad we could continue that relationship through the DRIVE programme.”

With one in ten offenders still living with the victim, the campaign aims to reduce harm to partners and children and stop cycles of abuse.

Dorset Police is only the second force in the South West to deliver this programme.

Inspector Alyssa Forrest from Dorset Police said: “I was proud to chair the inaugural panel and feel that this multi-agency approach really allowed us to get a 360-degree view of each case we worked through.

“We need to do all we can to protect victims of domestic abuse, and, in many cases, this includes providing support to challenge the behaviour of offenders.

“This work is vital in stopping further harm and, in my view, murder prevention.”

The first multi-agency tasking and co-ordination panel, which makes decisions on referrals to the DRIVE programme, took place on Wednesday March 24.

It brought together representatives from policing, adult and child social services, housing, drug and alcohol services, probation and health to provide a rounded view of each case discussed.

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Domestic abuse is physically and mentally toxic, and the DRIVE Programme is an innovative scheme which will help stop perpetrators continue their abuse.

“It has had some huge successes in other parts of the UK and I’m confident it will now make victims safer and reduce reoffending rates here in Dorset.

“I’m proud my office has enabled this scheme to come to Dorset by successfully bidding for Home Office funding.”