Domestic violence
The new domestic violence project will work with perpetrators of abuse in England and WalesGetty

A new project which will involve working with perpetrators of domestic violence to tackle abuse is being piloted across England and Wales. The Drive, which is backed by the charities SafeLives and Respect, will be rolled out in Essex, Sussex and South Wales and will involve engaging and working with offenders in order to change their behaviour.

Unlike current schemes and projects which focus on group or family therapy, Drive will offer one-to-one sessions. It is aimed at the most dangerous offenders at risk of causing serious harm or death.

Perpetrators will also be offered support to tackle mental health problems, as well as any substance abuse issues. Practical support regarding parenting and employment will also be available.

"It will focus on victim safety - combining effective case management and proactive engagement with perpetrators. It's the first national attempt to reduce the number of victims of domestic abuse by disrupting the behaviour and abuse patterns of the most high-risk perpetrators," the SafeLives website reads.

The organisation told the BBC that 900 offenders are expected to be asked to take part in the scheme over the next three years.

"Respect, SafeLives and Social Finance are working together with the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales to develop a sustainable, national response to perpetrators of domestic abuse that knits together existing services, complementing and enhancing existing interventions," the South Wales Police said in a statement.

"The primary aim of this work is to reduce the number of child and adult victims of domestic abuse by developing a whole system response that drives perpetrators to change their behaviour."

New legislation

A new domestic violence law aimed at addressing coercive control came into force in December 2015, under which abusers who control victims online face a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment and a fine. The legislation targets perpetrators who stop short of physical violence but whose actions amount to extreme psychological and emotional abuse over time.

Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said: "No one should live in fear of domestic abuse, which is why this government has made ending violence against women and girls a priority.

"Our new coercive or controlling behaviour offence will protect victims who would otherwise be subjected to sustained patterns of abuse that can lead to total control of their lives by the perpetrator.

"We are sending a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to you and that emotional and controlling abuse will not be tolerated."

The new law was brought into force in England and Wales following a report by the police inspectorate which found the number of reported crimes associated with domestic abuse increased by 31% in 18 months.