Evidence-led policy or policy-led evidence? Cognitive behavioural programmes for men who are violent towards women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article critiques the move towards establishing standardized cognitive behavioural interventions for violent men within the National Probation Service of England and Wales. The article queries the persuasiveness of the research evidence informing this policy decision, and argues that in practice a narrow focus on cognition can detract from those aspects of masculinity that are implicated in the perpetration of domestic violence. Having first explored the limits of the evaluation research that has been conducted on cognitive behavioural programmes for domestic violence perpetrators in the UK, the article utilizes a case study to illustrate the complex challenges confronting those who wish to help violent men to change. In particular, the notion that denial is only implicated in mitigating responsibility for violence is exposed as unduly simplistic. The article concludes that without greater acknowledgement of the criminal justice system's tendency to further brutalize violent offenders, court-mandated perpetrators will continue to expect probation interventions to provide 'cures', and become increasingly resistant to engage when no such cures are found. © 2004 SAGE Publications.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-197
Number of pages24
JournalCriminal Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004