Transforming the response to perpetrators of domestic abuse

The Drive Partnership is making adult and child victim-survivors safer and changing the narrative from why doesn’t she leave’ to why doesn’t he stop’. 

In 2015, Social Finance formed a partnership with Respect and SafeLives after recognising a serious gap in how statutory and voluntary agencies respond to perpetrators. 

The partnership’s expertise in domestic abuse, perpetrator interventions, and a research-led approach to solving social problems resulted in the creation of the Drive Project: a high harm high risk intervention model for perpetrators.

The Drive Project has so far operated in 12 police and crime commissioner areas, working with around 3,500 high risk perpetrators of domestic abuse, impacting on their lives and the lives of around 4,000 associated adult victim-survivors and around 6,800 children. 

The pilot evaluation created a strong evidence base for reductions in abuse, increase in victim safety and reductions in the social costs of domestic violence. It found that adult victim-survivors associated with Drive cases were around three times less likely to experience physical abuse.

Since 2020, the partnership has expanded its impact through pioneering national systems change initiatives and undertaking workforce development. The partnership has also galvanised sector collaboration for shared voice and influencing opportunities, successfully advocating for a national perpetrator strategy as part of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. 

For the first time, someone’s holding him to account, it’s not just me.

Victim-survivor and Drive Project service user 

What we did

The Drive Partnership is making a real difference to the safety of victim-survivors of domestic abuse and contributed to changes in the thinking, decisions and practice of different agencies and professionals interacting with perpetrators of domestic abuse. 

Social Finance retains a place on the Drive Partnership Board and has staff working within the cross-partner team. Alongside our SafeLives and Respect partners, our skillset and networks have contributed to different phases of the Parternship’s evolution.

Incubation of new partnership approaches

In 2014 Social Finance established the Impact Incubator, a joint initiative with a group of philanthropic funders to stimulate new responses that could make a difference to intractable social problems. A research-led approach including consultation with statutory agencies, voluntary organisations, and funders led to the prioritisation of domestic abuse perpetration as a priority issue. Social Finance initiated the partnership with SafeLives and Respect, securing innovation funding to develop, test and evaluate a new intervention and fund a central team. 

Prioritising data and evidence

Based on Social Finance’s experience in setting up and performance managing outcomes contracts, robust data collection and a randomised control trial evaluation were built into the Drive Project from the outset. Good data is an essential building block to understanding the impact of a new intervention, to underpin continual service improvements, demonstrate efficacy to commissioners and funders and increase understanding about the cohorts we are working with. 

Scaling impact

Social Finance has 15 years’ experience finding new routes to scale impact across many social issue areas, working across voluntary, statutory and funding sectors. This experience has enabled us to support the Drive Partnership to seize strategic opportunities to secure further funding, push into new spaces and deepen our reach and national systems impact.

The Impact Incubator continues to create new practical approaches with philanthropy for lasting social change across a range of issue areas and working across sectors to achieve system impact at a local and national level.

Impact and insight

The Drive Partnership continues to create positive outcomes for individuals, communities and systems, including: 

  • Increasing safety for adult and child victim-survivors of domestic abuse through the Drive Project and Restart Pilot
  • Increasing attention to perpetrators in national policy including in the Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan
  • Shifting attitudes and practices of local services working on domestic abuse, e.g. through Helen’s Story
  • Improving coordination and multi-agency working on perpetrators 
  • Improving insight and practice around better responses to marginalised and underserved groups 
  • Increasing investment into the perpetrator sector, using philanthropic funding to catalyse investments from central and local government

The Drive Partnership was also the subject of a report we published in 2020 which used it as an example of systems change in practice, as it is influencing the overall response to domestic violence by the police, social services, local government and beyond.

Related work

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