The project will explore emerging approaches to policing perpetrators of domestic abuse and delivering safer outcomes for victim-survivors.
The main research site will be Greater Manchester, UK, which is committed to a 10-year strategy to tackle gender-based violence informed by similar efforts in the State of Victoria, Australia. The project will explore what is working well with these new approaches, what could be improved, and what can be learnt from different stakeholders involved in this response.
From May 2023-2025, the project team will document and critically evaluate Greater Manchester’s targeted approach to intervening in reported cases of domestic abuse. The team will also look critically about how ‘vulnerabilities’ are understood and responded to within these interventions.
The study will involve:
- conducting semi-structured interviews with professionals who work with perpetrators and with victim-survivors;
- analysing secondary data, including domestic abuse police case files;
- undertaking a case study at one or two specific locations within Greater Manchester identified as exemplifying best practice.
Domestic violence and abuse is a significant social problem worldwide. In England and Wales, domestic abuse accounted for 17% of all crime recorded in the year ending March 2022. In 2023, the National Police Chiefs’ Council issued its first National Strategic Threat Risk Assessment (PDF) of violence against women and girls, placing such offences on the same footing as terrorism and serious organised crime. In social policy, domestic abuse is often conceptualised in terms of ‘risk of harm’ and ‘victim vulnerabilities’. However, how these interact, how they intersect with inequalities, and how interventions can adapt to changes in vulnerabilities is under-developed. There is also limited research examining the vulnerabilities affecting perpetrators, and what might be needed to deliver effective interventions.
This project will explore:
- Is it possible to create a multi-agency response that encompasses more complex, nuanced understandings of vulnerability within existing legal frameworks in the UK?
- How might tackling domestic abuse change if everyone involved, including police, social workers, and community organisations had shared understandings and approaches to vulnerability?
The project aims to identify ways to balance current legislation and best practices with the aspiration to further develop multi-agency responses to domestic abuse. By taking a deeper, more nuanced look at how vulnerabilities are understood and responded to, the project seeks to inform police responses to domestic abuse and improve multi-agency responses.
The project fieldwork will be delivered in three successive parts, each around six months’ duration.
The first part will involve semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and frontline professionals from police, mental health, local authority, substance misuse, third sector, and other relevant organisations working with perpetrators and victim-survivors. The team will also conduct semi-structured interviews with police in Victoria (Australia) to examine what can be learnt from changes implemented as part of the Royal Commission into Family Violence reform agenda, including examining the barriers to effective service provision.
Analysis of secondary data
Following the semi-structured interviews, the researchers will analyse secondary data (including police case files) to establish how the reforms taking place in Greater Manchester are impacting on the profile of known perpetrators, and the response of the criminal justice system to people alleged to have used domestic abuse.
Case study analysis
Finally, the team will conduct a case study analysis. This will investigate at a deeper level the changes that the reforms are having at one or two specific locations within Greater Manchester identified as exemplifying best practice.
- Professor Sandra Walklate (University of Liverpool)
- Professor Nicole Westmarland (Durham University)
- Professor David Gadd (University of Manchester)
- Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon (Monash University, Australia)