Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Conference held in Shropshire for the first time
The Shropshire Countywide Domestic Abuse Forum held their annual networking event at the Trinity Centre in Shrewsbury this week – a perpetrator conference – “Domestic Abuse: Working with Perpetrators”.
This was the first conference of this kind in Shropshire, where the focus was on working with the perpetrators, and therefore the root cause of the problem of domestic abuse.
This unique training event was supported by the Survivor Forums in Shropshire and Worcestershire – SEEDS Shropshire (SEEDS stands for Survivors Empowering and Educating Domestic Abuse Services) and Supportworks; and the specialist domestic abuse support services – Refuge, South Shropshire Domestic Violence Service and West Mercia Women’s Aid. Survivors from SEEDS Shropshire and Supportworks courageously shared their heartfelt, painful and deeply personal experiences of domestic violence and abuse in their own lives, reminding delegates that the focus when working with perpetrators is always on the safety and well-being of the victims and their children.
The host for this full day conference was the Chair of the Shropshire Countywide Domestic Abuse Forum – Tom Currie – who is the Assistant Chief Officer and Head of Service for the National Probation Service (West Mercia) and a White Ribbon Ambassador. Tom eloquently co-ordinated the day’s full programme by opening the conference and providing invaluable and inspirational insights, showing throughout the day a full commitment to developing provision for domestic abuse perpetrators, in particular in providing an evidenced based Voluntary Perpetrator Programme in Shropshire and across the West Mercia policing area.
The conference was fully booked and there were just over 100 professionals in attendance who were from many different organisations and agencies, including health, children services, police, probation and Army welfare, all working together across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Herefordshire and Worcestershire to tackle the root cause of domestic abuse – The Perpetrator.
In the morning, delegates were joined by Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult services.
Lee Chapman said:
“Everyone needs to be aware of the devastating and long term effect of domestic abuse.
“Shropshire Council is committed to tackle domestic abuse and to support the development of an evidence-based perpetrator programme, as we need to understand and address the root causes of domestic abuse and violence.”
A representative from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, Glyn Edwards, and the Domestic Abuse lead for West Mercia & Warwickshire Police, DCI Damien Petit, both gave powerful and compassionate speeches showing their commitment to the domestic violence agenda and to the development of an evidence-based Voluntary Perpetrator Programme. Glyn shared his concerns about the increase in incidents of domestic violence, the need to find an effective, evidence-based, sustainable community response, and captured the need to work with perpetrators by saying “It’s the right thing to do”.
The keynote speakers for this conference were Neil Blacklock from Respect, a key UK organisation for work with domestic abuse perpetrators, male victims and young people, and Dr Mark Farrall, a Chartered Forensic Psychologist and Director of Ignition Creative Learning. In these presentations, the speakers explored what we know about perpetrators, their complex needs, issues around gender and research on the effectiveness of Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes. Dr Mark Farrall shared his in-depth knowledge of therapeutic responses to perpetrators, and throughout his talk drew on the Ignition Strength to Change one to one programme to inform the issues under discussion.
In both the morning and afternoon, delegates were given opportunities to gather in smaller groups in workshops on understanding perpetrators and working with a Voluntary Perpetrator Programme, to network and to obtain expert advice & guidance from the information stands from SEEDS Shropshire, White Ribbon, Freedom Shropshire, South Shropshire Domestic Violence Service, Victim Support, West Mercia Women’s Aid, school nurses, AXIS, Army welfare, children’s centres and Refuge.
As the panel of experts remarked in closing, there was a real and high level of energy and enthusiasm from all agencies and organisations at this conference, and a united sense of commitment to working with perpetrators and developing an evidence-based Voluntary Perpetrator Programme to be delivered in Shropshire and across West Mercia.
For more on domestic abuse, visit the Freedom Shropshire website, created to enable people who live and work in Shropshire to access relevant and up to date guidance and advice on domestic abuse and violence and to provide information on services offered within Shropshire: www.freedomshropshire.org.uk.