A national evaluation of Project Cautioning And Relationship Abuse (‘CARA’) awareness raising workshops for adults involved in first time offences of domestic violence and abuse of standard or medium risk.
Duration: 12 December 2021 –12 December 2023
Funding total: £289,959.75
Funded by NIHR ARC Health and Care Inequalities National Priority Consortium. Led by ARC Wessex, collaborating with ARC North East North Cumbria, ARC West, ARC West Midlands and ARC Yorkshire and Humber.
What does the project aim to achieve?
Over one year, nearly 1.2 million incidents relating to domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in England and Wales were documented by police, with almost half recorded as criminal offences.
DVA leads to an adversity package of poor health and social outcomes, such as alcohol misuse and poorer reproductive health. Project CARA was developed in 2011 as a conditional caution offered by the police to adults involved in first time offences of DVA of standard or medium risk.
Adults who are offered CARA are required to undertake two mandatory workshops that increase awareness of their abusive behaviour and the safety of partners and children. In contrast to restorative justice, CARA is an awareness-raising intervention, that utilises a trauma informed approach and motivational interviewing techniques across the pair of workshops.
Our aim is to evaluate the impact of Project CARA following its wider rollout nationally, including in Avon & Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Thames Valley, West Midlands and West Yorkshire.
This will be a mixed methods evaluation study over two years aimed at examining harm to victim/survivors and their families whose partners (or former partners) took part in CARA.
Who will this work have an impact on, and how?
The research primarily will have an impact on adults involved in CARA, victim/survivors and their families. The risk of not engaging this population group would widen health inequalities and its impact on society.
The health economic evaluation will provide information about the potential costs to the health and social care system in England and Wales, thereby informing decision making on the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
The results of the study will be shared with key parliamentary groups, including the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice. The evidence may support policy decisions or changes to legislations, regulations and guidelines on the use of conditional cautions for domestic violence and abuse.
Where the stakeholders of the research are also non-governmental organisations and public services, the research will also increase the effectiveness of public services and policy.
Why is this project important?
Domestic violence and abuse (DVA) constitutes a high volume of incidents reported to the police. However the vast majority of these reported incidents result in no further action.
This is the first time a conditional caution has been offered for first time offences of domestic violence and abuse of standard or medium risk. This research project aims to understand how effective Project CARA is at stopping the cycle of offending and at reducing the devastating impact of domestic violence and abuse on survivors/victims and their families.
Project lead Dr Sara Morgan saud: “The criminal justice, health and social care system are struggling to constructively support victims, and prevent the recurrence of domestic abuse by means of an early intervention. Project CARA aims to raise awareness of offending behaviour following first time offences of standard/medium risk.
“This is the first time a conditional caution has been offered for domestic violence and abuse in England and Wales. At the population and individual level, we want to know if this early intervention has an impact on reducing domestic abuse and its impact on survivors.”
This research is being conducted in collaboration with the Hampton Trust, Restorative Solutions, and the Conforth Partnership.
This research is also being conducted in collaboration with the Police Force areas and Police Leads in Avon & Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Thames Valley, West Midlands and West Yorkshire.
Project update – June 2023
We have partnered with all nine police forces, commissioners, and service providers across England and Wales to deliver an evaluation that provides a national understanding on whether the CARA conditional caution can reduce harm to victims.
We have undertaken in-depth interviews with 33 participants including CARA participants (offenders), partners (or ex-partners) as well as police leads. We have begun analysing quantitative data on recidivism from five police forces, using regional datasets on the pre- and post-CARA period.
We aim to conduct follow-up interviews with a number of participants as part of a longitudinal study. Alongside this we are continuing to work with police leads, commissioners to extract data, review and feedback on both qualitative and quantitative findings.
Research findings/outputs to date
Initial findings were presented at the ARC National Symposia in November 2022. Follow this link to view the presentation
Lead contact for the project: Dr Sara Morgan ([email protected]), Associate Professor in Public Health, University of Southampton and ARC Wessex
Professor Rachel Armitage, University of Huddersfield
Dr Joht Singh Chandan, University of Birmingham
Dr David Culliford, University of Southampton
Professor Kate Jolly, University of Birmingham
Dr Tracey Long, University of Sheffield
Dr Ruth McGovern, Newcastle University
Dr Will McGovern, Northumbria University
Dr Michelle Myall, University of Southampton
Dr Gary Pankhurst, Newcastle University
Professor Julie Parkes, University of Southampton
Dr Jessica Roy, University of Bristol
Dr Steph Scott, Newcastle University
Dr Rasiah Thayakaran, University of Birmingham
For more information, contact Dr Sara Morgan – [email protected]