Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programs in the UK

The UK mirrors the US and Canada in a lot of the research and practice that occurs in intimate partner violence (IPV).  In the current review, (that will be published in Partner Abuse next year) myself and my colleagues sought to explore what IPV perpetrator programmes were provided within the UK.  This was part of the wider review being conducted and organised by John Hamel.

We sought approval through the UK National Offender Management Service and moved forward with an edited version of the questionnaire that was being used in the US. We contacted prisons, probation services, charities and other organisations we found through online searches. One of the most interesting findings from this was the reluctance of some organisations to take part.  In the paper (Bates, Graham-Kevan, Bolam & Thornton, in press) there is a quote from one such organisation; on finding out about my collaborators and my previous publications they decided:  “Now I know the source of the research I do not wish to respond”.  This was representative of a suspicion of our motives, agenda and how we would use the data. As a consequence we had quite a low response rate, at approximately 10%, although it was comparable with colleagues in other nations.

We found that the majority of provision was still aimed at men who had abused their female partners.    There were still some strong influences of the Duluth/feminist model, often mixed with some CBT approaches too. We chose to supplement our findings with a review of the current accreditation procedures to give a better picture of the current state of provision within the UK.  There are two methods for gaining accreditation; the first is through the UK Criminal Justice System which had currently four accredited programmes.  Each has some feminist influences and each is only appropriate for heterosexual men.

Within the UK there is a further level of accreditation that some seek to achieve, that of the feminist organisation Respect.  Respect (2012)  and their accreditation standard applied to “all organisations providing domestic violence prevention programs (DVPPs) working with men who use intimate partner violence (IPV), and also providing integrated safety services (ISS) for partners and ex-partners of these perpetrators” (p.1).  They are a very powerful organisation within the UK and hold a lot of political sway in lobbying the Government and influencing policy (Dixon et al., 2012).  Their accreditation standards are firmly grounded in the feminist model and they accredit programmes that hold men truly accountable for their violence towards women.  This of course ignores the wealth of literature that details that IPV is not just a unilateral problem of men hitting women (e.g. Bates, Graham-Kevan & Archer, 2014).  The research team attempted to engage with Respect through email and social media to get up to date versions of their mission statement but we received no response.

There are few evaluations of Respect accredited programmes but one particularly well-known one in the UK is Project Mirabel (Kelly & Westmarland, 2015).  The authors sought to challenge previous evaluations by creating a new, methodologically rigorous version but there were significant issues including no pre-post inferential statistical analysis and a comparison of effect using all starters and the completers – so 99 vs. 52 men.

Within this review, we as a team concluded that the Duluth model is still very influential within practice in the UK.  It is something that is significantly impeding practice moving forward in terms of reducing IPV offending. We call for more evidence based practice within the area and an end to the “immunity” the model seems to have from needing to answer to any external empirical evaluation (Corvo, Dutton & Chen, 2008; p.112).


Bates, E. A., Graham-Kevan, N., & Archer, J. (2014) Testing predictions from the male control theory of men’s partner violence. Aggressive Behavior, 40(1) 42-55. doi: 10.1002/ab.21499

Bates, E.A., Graham-Kevan, N., Bolam, L. T. & Thornton, A. J. V. (in press) Review of Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programs in the UK. Partner Abuse.

Corvo, K., Dutton, D. G. & Chen, W. Y. (2008) Towards evidence-based practice with domestic violence perpetrators. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 16 (2), 111-130. doi: 10.1080/10926770801921246

Dixon, L., Archer, J. & Graham-Kevan, N. (2012) Perpetrator programs for partner violence: Are they based on ideology or evidence? Legal and Criminological Psychology, 17, 196-215. doi: 0.1111/j.2044-8333.2011.02029.x

Kelly, L. & Westmarland, N. (2015) Domestic Violence Perpetrator Programmes: Steps Towards Change. Project Mirabal Final Report. London and Durham: London Metropolitan University and Durham University

Pence, E. & Paymar, M. (1993) Education groups for men who batter: The Duluth Model.  New York, US: Springer Publishing

Respect (2012) Respect Accreditation Standard, 2nd Edition. London: Respect: Respect. Available at: