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Agenda Item No 12

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 9th  March, 2016

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

'The Sanctuary Scheme' - Target Hardening Services for Victims of Domestic Abuse

Purpose of the Report

  1. To update Members on the 'target hardening' scheme in place to support victims of domestic violence in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Recommendation

That Committee note the updates and changes to the 'target hardening' process.

Reason for the Recommendation

To ensure that Committee is able to fulfil its role of scrutinising partnership action to reduce crime and disorder and fear of crime.

Background

  1. Domestic abuse is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. Domestic Violence can be anything from, physical, emotional, threats, financial, psychological or sexual abuse.
  2. The Sanctuary Scheme, a target hardening project, firmly supports the principles of the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015. Target hardening aims to strengthen home security for domestic violence victims through the installation of additional safety features.
  3. The Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act received royal assent on 29th April 2015. The purpose of the Act is to improve -

(a)    arrangements for the prevention of gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence;

(b)    arrangements for the protection of victims of gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence;

(c)    support for people affected by gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence and

(d)    to require the appointment of a National Adviser on gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

  1. The Sanctuary Scheme supports the aims of the Act by reducing domestic violence incidents whilst supporting victims and their families within their family home setting. It is offered to those who are receiving some form of support from Atal Y Fro, Supporting People, FACT or South Wales Police as part of a support plan. The scheme reduces the reliance on the more costly and scant resource of refuge accommodation or second stage housing i.e. an intermediate housing option used as step down accommodation from a refuge or for those families wanting more independence prior to securing a more permanent housing option.
  2. Violence against women in terms of domestic abuse (including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse) is a significant problem in Wales. Domestic abuse is the most prevalent form of violence and estimates show that in Wales each year domestic abuse affects 8.5% of women and 4.5% of men in Wales.
  3. Local statistics reveal that victims of domestic abuse are often women from a family environment. For example the number of women who have been in refuge or 'second stage' with Atal Y Fro support in 2014/15 is 68, with a further 69 children accompanying them.
  4. Overall, target hardening measures reduce repeat victimisation and also increase women's confidence and sense of safety. It is important that target hardening measures are offered within a wider framework of support and alongside regular risk assessments.
  5. Refuge and second stage accommodation can be very unsettling for a family. Waiting times for local refuges and second stage housing are often too long and victims may need to be placed in a refuge some distance from family and friends. This can increase social isolation for the victim and their family with children being forced to leave their current school. Research suggests that the best possible outcome for victims of domestic abuse and their families is to stay in their own home.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The previous 'Target Hardening' scheme came to an end in March 2015. In April 2015 the Safer Vale Team reviewed the scheme. In April 2015 a further £25,000 was allocated to the scheme as part of the Supporting People Grant
  2. In August 2015 a Service Level Agreement between The Safer Vale Partnership and the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Building Services Team was established to carry out the work.
  3. To prepare Building Services' staff for the work training was carried out. Training sessions were delivered by the Vale of Glamorgan's third sector domestic violence organisation, Atal Y Fro. The purpose of the training was to ensure that the staff had awareness of domestic violence, had the ability to recognise signs which might need to be raised with the Community Safety Team, be prepared for the sensitive nature of the work and victims that they may encounter and also develop knowledge in terms of signposting and services available to the victim and their family.
  4. The work which is covered by the scheme includes a number of safety features such as window locks, window shock alarms, door chains and a safe room installation. In some circumstances referrals may differ and additional features may be considered depending on the situation of the victim.
  5. The new project has a revised process including new referral forms (Appendix 1), and evaluation forms (Appendix 2) to ensure effective monitoring of the project.
  6. Referrals are forwarded to the Safer Vale team. Each referral will indicate the level of risk proposed to the victim and the necessary timescale by which work must be completed. It is the role of the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Co-ordinator to ensure that referrals are monitored and works are completed within the specified timescales.
  7. Between 17th August and 12th January 2016, 15 Sanctuary Scheme referrals have been received and completed successfully. Early indicators suggest positive service user feedback.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. It is anticipated that the current funding arrangement will support the scheme for the next two years.
  2. Budgets will be monitored in line with Safer Vale budget monitoring meetings.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no direct implications as a result of this project.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The service level agreement between Safer Vale and the Vale of Glamorgan Building Services Team has been reviewed by the Council's Legal Team.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The installation of additional safety features will positively impact on the crime and disorder levels in the Vale of Glamorgan ensuring an increased level of safety for victims and their families which will in turn decrease their fear of crime.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The additional safety features installed through the scheme will be available to all victims of domestic abuse. There are no restrictions in terms of tenure, ensuring equality of access to all residents in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This report is consistent with the corporate objective of the Council:

"That the Vale of Glamorgan is a safe and secure environment for its residents, businesses and visitors".

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Individual ward member consultation is not required as the target hardening service will be available to all residents of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Background Papers

Service Level Agreement between Safer Vale and Vale of Glamorgan Building Services.

Contact Officer

Deborah Gibbs- Safer Vale Manager

Officers Consulted

Lori Bigglestone - Accountant

Committee Reports - Legal

Andrew Treweek - Operational Manger- Building Services

Pam Toms - Housing Solutions and Supporting People Team Leader

Cllr Bronwen Brooks, Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing

 

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