A NATIONAL programme to reduce domestic violence by tackling root causes among abusers is to be piloted over the next three years.

The Drive project to be run in Adur, Worthing and Crawley will work with perpetrators in an effort to get them to change, tackling problems such as alcohol or substance misuse.

Research found 38 per cent of perpetrators in West Sussex had alcohol or substance misuse issues and 15 per cent had mental health issues.

The pilot is set to cost around £1.25 million, £464,000 of which is being met by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.

The team of case workers will target around 100 perpetrators per year for three years, working for up to ten months with each perpetrator referred to the service.

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “By addressing perpetrators’ behaviour this programme will target the root cause of domestic abuse and, crucially, improve outcomes for victims and children.

"There is currently no specialist intervention for those who continually abuse.

"Therefore, it is vital that we improve the response to perpetrators to reduce the number of victims currently experiencing domestic abuse, limit the harm to children and prevent further victimisation."

Christine Field, cabinet member for Community Wellbeing, West Sussex County Council, said: “Our strategy on domestic and sexual violence recognises the importance of this issue and the harmful impact it has, particularly on the lives of women and children.

"We strongly believe in developing a ‘whole-family response’ and taking a more holistic approach to prevent abuse from occurring.

"This pilot project holds these principles at its centre and will bring together existing services with a new coordinating lead for domestic abuse perpetrators to ensure they are as effective as possible.”