Swanswell could help dramatically cut alcohol-related domestic abuse cases

21 October 2011

Swanswell could help reduce the number of alcohol-related domestic abuse cases in England by almost three quarters with a new six-session programme for both victims and perpetrators.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an international campaign raising awareness of this often hidden issue and the support available.

Alcohol has strong links with violence. Every year in England alone, 360,000 incidents of domestic abuse (around a third of all cases) are linked to alcohol misuse (NICE online, 2010).

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, has recognised this by developing an innovative training programme to help alcohol workers identify victims and perpetrators.

It gives them the confidence to deliver a brief domestic abuse intervention and build strong working relationships with appropriate partner agencies to ensure referrals can be made quickly and effectively.

As part of this, Swanswell developed interventions that were created to work with both victims and perpetrators.

Both of the six-session programmes cover motivation to change, risky or unhelpful thinking, the traffic light model and relapse prevention planning.

In addition, sessions for perpetrators cover alcohol education, goal setting and breaking down the myths associated with domestic abuse. Sessions for victims cover education and awareness about domestic abuse and the change process.

Last year, Swanswell ran a successful pilot programme in Warwickshire, which provided some impressive results.

One of the outcomes was achieving an astonishing 73% zero-reoffending rate among perpetrators of domestic abuse (Warwickshire Police, 2010)1.

If that result could be replicated nationwide, Swanswell could reduce the annual figure for domestic abuse incidents from 360,000 to 97,200, helping to save up to an estimated £11.68 billion on the associated costs of dealing with them2.

Suni Kaur, Substance Misuse Worker with Swanswell and programme lead, said: ‘Our alcohol and domestic abuse prevention programme provides workers with the skills to identify people affected by alcohol-related domestic abuse, so they can provide effective support quickly.

‘It works well because it reduces reoffending in alcohol-related domestic abuse cases and supports the victims too.’

Warwickshire Police was one of a number of partners involved in the pilot programme in 2010 as part of Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse.

DI Roy Wheelwright, from Warwickshire Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit, said: ‘The results of the project have been very impressive with a vast majority of clients accepting the scheme and attending the sessions demonstrating a complete stop or a significant reduction in reported abuse.

This has proven to be a significant initiative in dealing with what has long been recognised as a major trigger towards domestic abuse.’      

References

1. Figures supplied by Warwickshire Police, 2010
2. In 2008, domestic violence cost the national nearly £16 billion (Walby, S., 2009)3. We estimate each incident costs around £9,000
3. Walby, S., 2009. The Cost of Domestic Violence, update by Sylvia Walby. Lancaster: Lancaster University

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