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Northumbria Probation Trust

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A new programme to tackle domestic abuse

Northumbria Probation Trust has launched a new programme to help stop domestic abuse. The programme, called Solo, targets men who have been convicted of an offence of domestic abuse, and works to reduce the likelihood of repeat offending and further attacks.

Solo is a 12 session course which is delivered as part of a community order, suspended sentence order or licence conditions on release from prison. Specially trained probation staff work with offenders on a one to one basis to deliver the course.

Northumbria Probation Trust ran a pilot for Solo during summer 2011, working with 18 offenders. Evaluation data demonstrated the programme was successful in changing offenders attitudes and behaviour.

Solo is delivered within a multi agency risk management framework. Offenders undertaking the course are flagged on police systems and information on any police call outs or arrests is shared with the probation offender manager.

During the pilot period, there were no police call outs for domestic violence or other disturbances involving the course participants, and only 1 incident after the course finished.

Another critical factor of Solo is the support of a women’s safety worker, which is offered to the partner or ex partner of the participating offenders. This service is provided by Barnardo’s on behalf of Northumbria Probation Trust.

The women’s safety workers are able to explain to women the work which their partner or ex partner is undertaking and how they are progressing. It also means that the women have someone to talk about any concerns they may have. If there is any further abusive behaviour, this is fed back to the probation staff and the police can also be notified if appropriate.

Anne Francis, interventions manager, Northumbria Probation Trust, explains: “Solo is a valuable tool in challenging abusive behaviour within relationships. It has been developed based on our knowledge of what works in domestic violence groupwork programmes, but provides an alternative format delivered on a one to one basis. This means we are now able to work with more domestic abuse perpetrators, including those who are not suitable for or able to attend groupwork programmes.

“One of the most important aspects of Solo is that you can tailor the material to the individual offenders circumstances. It enables structured domestic violence work to be incorporated into the sentence plan. The results of the pilot showedA new programme to tackle domestic abuse

Northumbria Probation Trust has launched a new programme to help stop domestic abuse. The programme, called Solo, targets men who have been convicted of an offence of domestic abuse, and works to reduce the likelihood of repeat offending and further attacks.

Solo is a 12 session course which is delivered as part of a community order, suspended sentence order or licence conditions on release from prison. Specially trained probation staff work with offenders on a one to one basis to deliver the course.

Northumbria Probation Trust ran a pilot for Solo during summer 2011, working with 18 offenders. Evaluation data demonstrated the programme was successful in changing offenders attitudes and behaviour.

Solo is delivered within a multi agency risk management framework. Offenders undertaking the course are flagged on police systems and information on any police call outs or arrests is shared with the probation offender manager.

During the pilot period, there were no police call outs for domestic violence or other disturbances involving the course participants, and only 1 incident after the course finished.

Another critical factor of Solo is the support of a women’s safety worker, which is offered to the partner or ex partner of the participating offenders. This service is provided by Barnardo’s on behalf of Northumbria Probation Trust.

The women’s safety workers are able to explain to women the work which their partner or ex partner is undertaking and how they are progressing. It also means that the women have someone to talk about any concerns they may have. If there is any further abusive behaviour, this is fed back to the probation staff and the police can also be notified if appropriate.

Anne Francis, interventions manager, Northumbria Probation Trust, explains: “Solo is a valuable tool in challenging abusive behaviour within relationships. It has been developed based on our knowledge of what works in domestic violence groupwork programmes, but provides an alternative format delivered on a one to one basis. This means we are now able to work with more domestic abuse perpetrators, including those who are not suitable for or able to attend groupwork programmes.

“One of the most important aspects of Solo is that you can tailor the material to the individual offenders circumstances. It enables structured domestic violence work to be incorporated into the sentence plan. The results of the pilot showed Solo to be an effective tool in tackling domestic violence and we are pleased we are now able to offer Solo on an ongoing basis as a sentencing option to courts across Northumbria”.

Solo involves a number of modules for the offenders to work, through which challenge their behaviour and attitudes. The first step is for the offender to recognise their behaviour as abusive, and to accept personal responsibility rather than blaming their behaviour on other factors such alcohol or difficult circumstances.

The programme then looks at factors which have contributed to the breakdown in the offenders behaviour, and looks at solutions to respond to these problems in a different way. It also looks at how to build and maintain healthy relationships.

Solo to be an effective tool in tackling domestic violence and we are pleased we are now able to offer Solo on an ongoing basis as a sentencing option to courts across Northumbria”.

Solo involves a number of modules for the offenders to work, through which challenge their behaviour and attitudes. The first step is for the offender to recognise their behaviour as abusive, and to accept personal responsibility rather than blaming their behaviour on other factors such alcohol or difficult circumstances.

Solo case study: James

Background
James had been in a relationship with Carol for 3 years. During the last year, their relationship had become quite volatile with a number of arguments, which had resulted in several police call outs to their house. The couple were also drinking quite heavily.

One evening on a night out, they began to argue. This continued when they returned home and James assaulted Carol, knocking her to the floor and kicking and punching her. Carol was left with severe bruising on her face and body.

James pleaded guilty to assault and received a community order, supervised by Northumbria Probation Trust, with requirements for supervision and the Solo domestic violence course.

Progress on Solo
When James first began the Solo programme, he was unable to understand why he had attacked Carol.

Solo includes a number of modules for offenders to work through, to identify the factors which have contributed to their abusive behaviour. James began to realise that alcohol had been a factor, and the amount and frequency of their drinking was affecting the relationship.

Another module looks at the qualities which are needed for healthy relationships, one of which is trust. James was able to realise that he responded with jealousy when Carol talked to other men and this lack of trust was also a factor.

James also reflected on his childhood and began to understand that he had witnessed abusive behaviour within his own family. By remembering how he had felt as a child, he was able to appreciate how his behaviour had affected Carol and her children, and this increased his motivation to change.

Support for Carol
As part of the Solo programme, Carol was supported by a women’s safety worker, who explained about the work James was doing. Carol was able to discuss any concerns she had.

Outcome
James initially blamed alcohol for his problems. Through Solo, he began to understand it was his responsibility to manage how much he drank and also to control his emotions and responses when drinking.

He also learned techniques to cope with difficult situations without becoming abusive. This included walking away from stressful situations in order to calm down and then later discuss the problem more rationally.

In the past 6 months there have been no further incidents of domestic abuse. There have also been no further police call outs to James and Carol’s home as a result of arguments. Their relationship is now much more stable.

December 13, 2011

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