Agenda Item No. 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 18th June, 2018

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Building Services

 

Landlord Service - Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Policy

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To request the adoption of a new Domestic Abuse Policy for the Council's Landlord Service and to advise Cabinet of the Council's proposed response to incidents of Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDA-SV) in accordance with the new National Strategy 2016-2021.

Recommendations

  1. That the new VAWDA-SV Policy for the Council's Landlord Services be adopted.
  2. That the report and new Policy be referred to the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To ensure compliance with the National Strategy on Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence 2016 - 2021 and to provide clear guidelines to Housing staff so that the appropriate response is provided to any reported incidents.
  2. To ensure Members are aware of the new Landlord Services - VAWDA-SV Policy.

Background

  1. On 20th October 2014 Cabinet approved a Landlord Service Domestic Abuse Policy (Cabinet Minute C2495). This set out the expected Housing response to reported incidents of domestic abuse. 
  2. Since that date, the Welsh Government introduced the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act (Wales) 2015 and launched the National Strategy on Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence in November 2016. The Landlord Service has therefore now produced a new VAWDA-SV Policy to comply with the updated legislation and Strategy.
  3. VAWDA-SV can affect anyone at any time during their lives, with 1 in 4 women being affected by domestic abuse in their lifetimes. This means that a significant number of those living within Council properties will be affected by abuse or even considered as perpetrators of domestic abuse. It is therefore essential that there is clear guidance in place detailing the approach the Council will take as a Landlord.
  4. The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 also introduced changes in how landlords can support victims of domestic abuse by allowing joint tenancies to be modified with greater ease, as well as enabling appropriate action to be taken against perpetrators.  These changes are therefore also reflected in the new Landlord Services VAWDA-SV Policy attached at Appendix 1.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The new Landlord Services VAWDA-SV Policy outlines a range of options to support victims to either remain in their home safely or support them to seek alternative accommodation. 
  2. The Policy also reinforces the importance of joint working in relation to tackling domestic abuse.  As well as supporting victims; this includes referring victims into the Multi-agency Risk Assessment Meeting (MARAC) and to Atal Y Fro (the local domestic abuse support agency), Safer Vale and South Wales Police.
  3. As a Landlord, safeguarding remains central to the Council's work and therefore it is essential that all staff throughout the Environment and Housing Department, including repairs staff, are confident in identifying signs of abuse and know how to act on these concerns.
  4. The Policy also reflects the national training framework in relation to VAWDA-SV to ensure that all new staff members will complete the required "Introduction to VAWDA-SV" training developed by the Welsh Government.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There are no resource implications arising from this report.  The new Policy will be delivered within the existing budget by adapting the Landlord Services procedures to ensure that the appropriate actions are taken.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Discussions are taking place with key partner agencies to ensure that the Department's approach in responding to VAWDA-SV remains in line with best practice recommendations which ensures the safety of victims wherever possible.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Any action taken against perpetrators of domestic abuse will be carried out in line with the relevant legislation and in consultation with the Council's Legal Services.
  2. Information in relation to cases where VAWDA-SV is identified or suspected will be shared with the relevant agencies in line with current data sharing protocols and data protection requirements.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The Landlord Service Policy for VAWDA-SV is designed to support victims of crime and disorder to prevent any future incidents.  With increased powers to remove those people identified as perpetrators it will reduce the number of disturbances within council properties.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The Council must comply with the public sector equality duty (section 149 of the Equality Act 2010) when coming to a decision on the adoption of the revised VAWDA-SV Policy.  Section 149 requires the Council to have due regard to the need to:

> Eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;

> Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;

> Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it: Equality Act 2010 s149 (1).

  1. An Equality Impact Assessment for the revised Policy has been completed.
  2. If adopted by Cabinet, the Landlord Services VAWDA-SV Policy will be available on the Council's website in English and Welsh.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This Policy is consistent with the Corporate Plan 2016-2020:

Wellbeing Outcome 1: An Inclusive and Safe Vale.

Objective 2: Providing decent homes and safe communities.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Specific ward members have not been consulted as the issues affect all areas of the Council.
  2. Consultation has taken place with specialist service provider Atal Y Fro to ensure that the Policy is meeting the needs of those affected by VAWDA-SV. 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Homes and Safe Communities

Background Papers

National Strategy on Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence 2016 - 2020.

Contact Officer

Tori Brown - Senior Neighbourhood Manager, Community Investment and Older People's Services

Officers Consulted

Julie Grady, Domestic Abuse Co-Ordinator, Safer Vale

Pam Toms, Operational Manager, Public Housing

Mike Ingram, Head of Housing and Building Services

Committee Reports, Legal Services

Carolyn Michael, Operational Manager, Accountancy

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Environment and Housing Services