A relationship counselling service in Dorset has been awarded £200,000 to fund the work it carries out across the county, it has been announced.

Relate Dorset will receive the generous sum from the National Lottery Community Fund to support its work with perpetrators of domestic abuse to bring about behavioural change and rebuild relationships.

The funding will support Relate Dorset to deliver the Choose2Change intervention for low and medium risk male perpetrators of domestic violence, which has already been delivered across Wales for the last 10 years.

Its aims are to increase the safety of victims of domestic violence and abuse by delivering a behavioural change programme.

Relate Dorset has teamed up with Domestic Abuse Intervention Training (DAIT), a Dorset Council endorsed victims programme, which it says will be "critical to the success of the programme" in addressing the needs of the victim as well as the perpetrator.

Domestic abuse-related offences have, since December 2015, included “coercive or controlling behaviour in an intimate or family relationship”. Data from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) reveals that for the year ending March 2018, the total number of domestic abuse-related offences recorded by police in Dorset was 6,097, representing 12 per cent of all recorded crime in the county.

Relate Dorset is working within the criteria established by the Pan Dorset Domestic Abuse Strategy 2017-2020 and works collaboratively with established agencies across Dorset.

Sheila Maycock, Relate Dorset centre manager said: "After two years of speculation, planning, training, seeking funding and establishing partnerships and making sure that the Choose2Change programme will add real value to Dorset we are delighted to be able to bring the programme to life with secured funding for the next five years.

"I have to thank the National Lottery, and in particular those who play the lottery for their huge contribution, without which we could not have started."

Choose2Change is also being part funded by Lloyds Foundation for the first year, and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has also made a small contribution to running costs.

More information about Choose2Change is available on the Relate Dorset website.