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Suffolk Police launch new domestic abuse unit to work with perpetrators on changing their behaviours, coinciding with national White Ribbon campaign



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Police in Suffolk have launched a new team aiming to change the behaviours of domestic abuse offenders.

The Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Unit (DAPU) project will see Suffolk Constabulary staff work one-to-one with domestic abuse perpetrators to address and alter their behaviour, protect victims and reduce demand on the force.

The new project, which coincides with the national White Ribbon campaign running annually from November 25 to December 10, marks the first time the force has worked with domestic abuse offenders in this way.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones and T/Chief Supt Marina Ericson with student officers Jade Fisher (left) and Charlotte Bourne (right) supporting the new project
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones and T/Chief Supt Marina Ericson with student officers Jade Fisher (left) and Charlotte Bourne (right) supporting the new project

Officials at Suffolk Constabulary say raising awareness of the 'hidden harm' of domestic abuse is a priority and they support action to 'make it clear that domestic violence and abuse should never be condoned or tolerated'.

The DAPU project will see a team of three - one police constable and two staff members - working one-to-one with offenders over an extended period, as well as with partner organisations, to look at and change their behaviour.

Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger, head of Suffolk’s Crime, Safeguarding and Incident Management Command, said: "There is clear evidence to show that working with offenders in this manner, to understand their actions and help them make a change, does work.

From left, Det Ch Insp Nicola Wallace, Briony Moore (DAPU Behaviour Change Caseworker), PC Joanne Naunton, PCC Tim Passmore, Det Ch Supt Eamonn Bridger, David Wattley, (DAPU Behaviour Change Caseworker), DS Sarah-Jane Primmer and Det Ch Insp Barry Byford. Picture: Suffolk Police
From left, Det Ch Insp Nicola Wallace, Briony Moore (DAPU Behaviour Change Caseworker), PC Joanne Naunton, PCC Tim Passmore, Det Ch Supt Eamonn Bridger, David Wattley, (DAPU Behaviour Change Caseworker), DS Sarah-Jane Primmer and Det Ch Insp Barry Byford. Picture: Suffolk Police

"Through this intensive work we hope to help the perpetrator change their behaviour, reduce their criminality and improve their life for the better.

"In turn, this will help keep our communities and potential victims safe, while reducing demand on the force as a whole.

"Behaviour change programmes do work, and the bespoke one-to-one work that will be carried out by the DAPU officers and staff is really what makes the difference.

"They can take a detailed look at that person’s life, including housing, addiction and any mental health diagnoses and work according to the individual’s needs to help them make a positive change.”

The new unit has been largely funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner's uplift project, after the council tax policing precept was increased in April.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he was 'very pleased' to see the new unit now operational.

He said: "It has been established with funding from this year’s policing element of the council tax, which I hope Suffolk residents will agree is a great investment.

"Looking after vulnerable people - especially the victims of domestic abuse and violence - is a top priority for the Constabulary. This will make a real difference by helping perpetrators of this terrible crime recognise the awful effect it has on others and change their ways for the better.

"From what I have seen when visiting perpetrator programmes, I know this unit make a real contribution in reducing the levels of domestic abuse. I wish all involved in the new team good luck in all you will be doing. Your important contribution will be making Suffolk safer.”

A police spokeswoman added: "Domestic abuse can leave you feeling trapped and lonely. Police understand the impact that the coronavirus can have on home-life and we are here to help.

"It is important to remember that it is not your fault, and you may need help and support to keep safe."

A video featuring the Domestic Abuse Team is set to be shared on social media today to highlight the support and services available to victims and survivors on White Ribbon Day.

Officers said it will also raise awareness of the ‘silent solution’ to help people let police know when they are in imminent danger but unable to speak.

This system, which is used by Suffolk Constabulary, allows someone who has called 999 on a mobile, who is too scared to make a noise or speak to press 55 when prompted – to inform police they are in a genuine emergency.

The force has also issued 500 white ribbons for officers and staff to wear to show their support and further raise awareness of this campaign.

They are also working with Suffolk Police UNISON branch, Suffolk Association of Women in Policing and the Suffolk Police Federation to raise awareness of the campaign internally to provide information and advice.

The national campaign can be followed at @WhiteRibbon_UK #makethepromise or #whiteribbonday.

For help and advice, contact police by calling 101 or visit the Suffolk Police website.

Victims of domestic violence and abuse can call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Domestic abuse perpetrators who want to change their behaviours can call the Respect phoneline on 0808 802 4040.

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk