Integrating the longitudinal study of intimate partner violence perpetration within life course criminology

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences

Abstract

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is abusive behaviour between (ex)partners and is a serious problem in society. Almost 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience IPV at some point in their lives, whilst it is estimated that £4 billion of public money is spent on responding to IPV annually. That said, there is clearly a pressing need to better understand IPV perpetration, one that can inform an evidence-based system of prevention and intervention. Therefore, this study will enhance our understanding of IPV perpetration by integrating two previously separate fields: IPV research and life course criminology. By doing so, this research will mark the next step in realising my ambition: to become an international research leader on policy-oriented theorization and investigation of criminal development and desistance (i.e. the process of stopping offending).
This research will make five important long-term contributions to criminological research and its practical applications.
First, by adopting the life course criminological approach this research will enhance our understanding of IPV perpetration. This research will establish general patterns in the development of IPV, and will explain the process of desistance from IPV.
Second, by integrating the study of IPV within the study of general criminal development this research will further develop the field of life course criminology. Whilst the life course criminological perspective is considered to be the main paradigm for understanding offending, to date IPV has been ignored in the development of life course criminological theory. Incorporating IPV perpetration in developmental models of criminal behaviour, then, will enhance our understanding of the development of offending and the pathways out of crime.
Third, as I am proposing to integrate two largely separate fields of criminological study, I will be able to establish a profile as a leading expert in this field. The research has a significant international component, s I aim to systematically compare datasets from the UK, the USA and the Netherlands. I aim to establish and lead the International Network on Criminal Development and Desistance: research, policy and practice (INCreDD). I will collaborate with American and Dutch experts during three overseas research visits. The findings from this research will be disseminated via publications in high-impact international journals, presentations at academic conferences, and at an international academic workshop. The research thus enables me to develop myself into an internationally recognized future research leader.
Fourth, this research employs existing international longitudinal datasets. Longitudinal data is vital for a comprehensive understanding of the development of criminal behaviour and the desistance process. As existing longitudinal datasets are generally underused, I aim to use the INCreDD network to encourage cross-national investigations of longitudinal data on criminal development and desistance. To consolidate my expertise in longitudinal data analysis I will participate in the prestigious Essex summer school.
Fifth, the research findings will be invaluable for policy makers and practitioners working in the criminal justice system, social care and the voluntary sector, whose work it is to develop and implement prevention and intervention programmes. Services to reduce IPV perpetration which are informed by academic research will affect the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of partners and children, as well as reducing government spending. The INCreDD network will include an extensive network of policy makers and practitioners. The organisation of a dissemination event, presentations at practitioner organisations, and the distribution of research bulletins will enhance my knowledge exchange skills and will enable me to develop myself into a research leader who is able to effectively communicate with and impact on the work of policy makers and practitioners.

Planned Impact

This research will generate knowledge of characteristics of IPV perpetration, and factors that can promote the process of desistance from IPV. Therefore, the findings from this research will yield important opportunities to realize impact in terms of primary and secondary prevention (see Pathways to Impact for details). Prevention and intervention programmes that are informed by academic research are vital, as research has demonstrated that formal sanctions imposed by the criminal justice system do not have any lasting or significant impact on reducing IPV perpetration.

Government. It is estimated that nearly £4 billion of public funds annually is spent on responding to IPV, excluding costs associated with lost economic output or individual emotional costs, which are estimated at a further £12 billion (Walby 2009). The UK government (in particular the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office) will therefore benefit from reductions in IPV perpetration, which will be achieved through designing more effective prevention and intervention programmes informed by this research.

Policy makers. The findings will be relevant to the work of policy makers working in the areas of criminal justice, education, social care and public health, who make decisions about IPV related policies. These include policies regarding general prevention programmes implemented in education and prevention programmes aimed towards at-risk groups, as well as policies concerning responses to and punishment of IPV.

Criminal justice system and social care. The insights on IPV perpetration generated by this research could be used to inform and refine risk assessment tools that are being used by police, probation and social care professionals, to improve early identification of IPV perpetrators and to tailor their response to perpetrators. Enhancing early and accurate identification of at-risk individuals is crucial for delivering early intervention, thereby minimalizing chances of escalation. This search will also have important implications for organisations within the criminal justice system who deliver interventions for perpetrators, as the findings will underpin more effective intervention programmes aimed at reducing the perpetrator's abusive behaviour.

Voluntary sector. The research will inform the work of domestic abuse charities (e.g. SafeLives, Respect) that deliver prevention programmes and training for professionals who deal with IPV in their work. The voluntary sector will be able to deliver more complex prevention initiatives. Moreover, as charities often work alongside the criminal justice system to deliver interventions, the research findings will also contribute to the development of evidence-based interventions for IPV perpetrators.

Victims. Through improved prevention and intervention programmes for IPV perpetrators, the quality of life for victims of IPV will be greatly enhanced. In the UK an estimated 1.4 million women and 700,000 men suffered from IPV in 2014 (ONS 2015). Each year more than 100,000 people in the UK are at high and imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured as a result of IPV, and more than 100 people each year are killed by their (ex)partners. Prevention and intervention programmes informed by this research will thus greatly improve the safety and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of partners and children of IPV perpetrators.

Perpetrators. The findings will impact on the quality of life of perpetrators of IPV. Interventions for IPV perpetrators informed by this research will be more effective in reducing their abusive behaviour. This will improve their quality of life in terms of healthy relationships, avoidance of sanctions and the negative consequences associated with criminal justice system involvement (e.g. a criminal record).

Publications

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Description International mentoring and collaboration 
Organisation Michigan State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Professor Christopher D Maxwell from Michigan State University has agreed to be my second mentor and collaborator for this research project. I have undertaken a research visit to Michigan State University (21 May - 1 June 2017) to collaborate with professor Maxwell.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Christopher D Maxwell from Michigan State University has agreed to be my second mentor and collaborator for this research project. He provides mentoring via regular meetings via Skype or at international conferences we have both attended. In addition, he has facilitated my two-week research visit (21 May - 1 June 2017). During this research visit, we have worked together on data access and analysis, and prepared research plans for two papers.
Impact This collaboration is still ongoing. So far, the collaboration has resulted in a paper which has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Two other papers are in preparation.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Visiting fellow NSCR 
Organisation The Netherlands Study Center Crime and Law Enforcement
PI Contribution I have approached the 'Nederlands Studiecentrum Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving' (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, or NSCR) to support my research project, in the form of research collaborations and access to data sets. As a result, the NSCR has given me a three-year visiting research fellow status, which facilitates this collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution The 'Nederlands Studiecentrum Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving' (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, or NSCR) has given me a three-year visiting research fellow status. This enables me to visit the Institute regularly, to collaborate with professor Arjan Blokland, and to access and work with two data sets of which he is the research director.
Impact This collaboration is still ongoing. So far, our collaboration has resulted in one paper which has been submitted to the European Journal of Criminology, and another paper which is in preparation.
Start Year 2017