A former domestic abuser has spoken about how a police operation in Stevenage has helped him turn his ‘chaotic life’ around.

Operation Acorn began in the town in November, working with domestic abuse offenders to help prevent further incidents and safeguard victims.

Under the guidance of Det Insp Hannah Mann at Stevenage Police Station, four officers work full-time on domestic abuse offences.

The offenders are identified through a risk matrix, and those deemed to be high risk to a vulnerable victim are targeted.

Those high risk offenders who are unwilling to engage are treated as persistent prolific offenders and are closely monitored to ensure the safety of victims.

A Stevenage offender, who did not wish to be identified, spoke to the Comet about his experience of working with police.

He said: “I was asked if I wanted to be on the scheme last year and I volunteered. For me that was a big step – I wanted to change.

“Originally I thought this wouldn’t work, but I could see my behaviour had to stop.

“I had brilliant support from the police. There were numerous offences against my ex-partner and I am totally disgusted when I look back to how I behaved.

“I am no longer angry and frustrated. It was really exhausting living that chaotic life where I was stressed all the time.

“I would advise anyone who is constantly offending and wants to break that cycle to consider this scheme.

“It is not any easy decision to make though – inside you have to want to change.”

DI Mann believes the operation has been ‘incredibly successful’.

“Stevenage has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse in the county,” she said.

“What we wanted to do is help the offenders by addressing the issues that have led to the abusive behaviour and try to prevent further offending.

“There is always an underlying cause for domestic abuse – often drink or drug-related problems.

“Many offenders are caught up in a downward spiral of abusive behaviour they cannot break free from.

“We have found that by focusing on the offender, providing support for their ongoing problems, getting offenders to face their demons and be accountable for their behaviour in a supportive environment, has been incredibly successful.

“We have utilised all relevant offender management programmes, partnership working and legislation.”

Det Con Andy Bryder, also from the Operation Acorn team, added: “Operation Acorn has undoubtedly been extremely beneficial for those who have taken part.

“They say they’ve felt supported by officers and what they have learnt has allowed them to put in place strategies to prevent offences being committed in future.

“Some have not committed any offences since they have been on Operation Acorn.”