Agenda Item No 20

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 30 July, 2018

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Building Services

Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategy 2018-2023

Purpose of the Report

  1. To seek adoption of the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) Strategy 2018-2023 attached at Appendix 1.
  2. To agree the funding that supports the delivery of the VAWDASV Strategy.

Recommendations

  1. That Cabinet adopts the Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan VAWDASV Strategy 2018-2023 (Appendix 1)
  2. That Cabinet approves the allocation of Welsh Government funding to support the Council's response to the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act 2015.
  3. That the Monitoring Officer/Head of Legal and Democratic Services is authorised to draft and execute the necessary form of contract with the providers of VAWDASV services.
  4. That further reports on the Council's actions in satisfying our duties under the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act 2015 are provided in due course.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To comply with the VAWDASV (Wales) Act 2015, regions are aligned to the health footprint, therefore the region for VAWDASV Strategy is Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. 
  2. In order to demonstrate the Council's commitment to provide support to vulnerable victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
  3. To continue with existing strategic support which has already proved successful and enabled the Council to implement new ways of working and ensure compliance with the Council's Financial and Contract Standing orders..
  4. To ensure compliance with the Council's legal duties under the Act.

Background

  1. Domestic and Sexual abuse is a priority for the Safer Vale Partnership which is chaired by the Director of Environment and Housing Services.  The Safer Vale Partnership is the Strategic Board responsible for reducing Crime and Disorder.
  2. Vale of Glamorgan Partners represented on the Board are; Vale of Glamorgan Council, South Wales Police, South Wales Fire and Rescue, Cardiff and Vale Health Trust, National Probation Service, Police and Crime Commissioner and the Voluntary Sector.  The Board reviews performance and identifies opportunities for improvements.
  3. Violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is a fundamental violation of human rights and both a cause and consequence of inequality.  Tackling VAWDASV has far reaching consequences for women, men, children, families, communities and society as a whole.  Tackling these enduring social problems requires a distinct and proportionate approach to all victims and perpetrators in order that everyone can live fear free in safe, equal and violence free communities.
  4. The VAWDASV Act (Wales) 2015 laid out a requirement for local authorities and Health Boards to jointly prepare regional strategies to tackle this issue.
  5. Welsh Government has also required Authorities work regionally on VAWDASV in terms of a national approach towards funding and commissioning.  Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan have agreed to co-operate as a region for this purpose due to a shared Health Board footprint, natural travel to work patterns, service access migrations for residents across the area and the pre-existence of some services.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The regional VAWDASV strategy recognises that anyone (women, men, children and young people) can experience and be affected by VAWDASV.  It addresses violence and abuse directed towards women, men, girls and boys and violence perpetrated by men and women.  It acknowledges that it can happen in any relationship regardless of sex, age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, religion or belief, income, geography or lifestyle.  However it is acknowledged that women and girls are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse, rape and sexual violence, sexual exploitation (including through the sex industry) modern day slavery, forced marriage female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation and abuse, stalking and harassment.
  2. The VAWDASV Act 2015, places a requirement on local authorities and their partners to improve the public sector response to this issue, including re-commissioning of services to ensure that they are fit for purpose.  There is also a need to use funding more creatively as no additional resources have been identified to support these new duties.
  3. The regional strategy is required to have regard to the National Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategy 2016-2021, specifically its objectives for:

(a)       Arrangements for the prevention of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

(b)       Arrangements for the protection of victims of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

(c)       Support for people affected by violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.  

  1. In recognising the national strategic direction, this strategy sets out an overarching vision and high level aims as follows:

Vision

  1. People who live, work and visit Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan have the opportunity to live positive, independent lives without being affected by violence and abuse.

Aims

Aim 1 - PREPARE

Improve strategic planning and commissioning of VAWDASV services through a more coordinated partnership approach across the region.

Aim 2 - PURSUE

Address perpetrators of VAWDASV by improving intelligence sharing across services and the use of legal powers to disrupt and convict.

Aim 3 - PREVENT

Proactively address negative attitudes and behaviours that have the potential to result in VAWDASV, recognizing that this is everyone's business.

Aim 4 - PROTECT

Improve the multi-agency response and support to all victims and their children regardless of risk level and needs.

Aim 5 - SUPPORT

Ensure that innovative, flexible and evidence based services are available to meet the needs of victims experiencing any form of VAWDASV.

  1. To support these aims a large number of actions have been identified as 'We Will' commitments.  An action plan has been developed with partners to take forward all the commitments set out in the Strategy and is attached at Appendix 2.
  2. A communications plan is also under development to ensure that key messages to the public and professionals are timely and consistent across the region.  All partners are committed to disseminating messages and targeted awareness raising campaigns via a variety of means to establish the greatest reach and awareness.
  3. As a result of the new regional approach to this issue, the governance arrangements are being amended to reflect both the distinct local issues but also the wider responsibility for joint working where this is feasible.  The issue of VAWDASV will continue to report to the Community Safety Partnership (Safer Vale).
  4. A number of key partners were involved in the development of the strategy; a Regional Strategy Development Group was established, comprising specialist officers from both Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Council's, Health, each of the South Wales Police Basic Command Units, Officers representing the South Wales Crime Commissioner.  The group was responsible for delivering the vision and aims detailing the scope and structure of the document.  The chapter on Pursue was felt to be an important factor acknowledging that there would not be any victims without perpetrators and tackling the issues was just as important as protecting and supporting victims.
  5. The Regional Strategy Development Group was fortunate to have two representatives from the Welsh Women's Aid SEEdS project (Survivors Empowering and Educating Services) join them.  Input from survivors in this way has been extremely beneficial and influential in shaping the direction of the strategy document and in helping to sharpen its contents.
  6. The strategy was circulated widely for consultation on the 19th March for 8 weeks.  A 'strategy on a page' version was circulated alongside the full document so that staff within partner organisations could understand what was being addressed.
  7. An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) has been undertaken; a copy of the EIA can be found at Appendix 3.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Whilst there is no additional funding available to support the strategy, Welsh Government has confirmed that the region will continue to receive VAWDASV funding.  Within the Vale the funding supports the following
  • Advocacy Support £30,000
  • MARAC (Multi Agency Rick Assessment Conference) £15,000
  • VAWDASV Manager £32,060
  1. To date, VAWDASV funding is awarded on an annual basis which makes it difficult to plan and commission services.  There are 3 local authority employed staff that are funded via this funding stream, two of which are on fixed term contracts.
  2. Target Hardening has proved to be a valuable and successful service that is offered to victims of domestic abuse, in which they can remain safely in their own home.  This is a better outcome for the victim, but also saves costs for refuge provision or sourcing alternative accommodation.  Within the Vale, CCTV and intruder alarms are fitted to homes to assist in victim safety, but also act as a deterrent to perpetrators gaining access, or providing evidence to assist in prosecution.  The Housing Fund has provided revenue funding of £35,000 in 2018 to continue this service.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Ongoing collaboration between Cardiff and Vale Council Officers identify ways to work together creatively to provide more sustainable services. The collaborative arrangement supports the 7 goals contained within the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015   

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. It will be necessary to agree and enter into a form of contract with the provider for target hardening and advocacy support.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The development of providing good quality domestic and sexual violence services will protect and support vulnerable victims who are highly likely to be more susceptible to being victims of further incidents.  The provision of services to vulnerable clients will have a beneficial impact on reducing crime and disorder within the Vale of Glamorgan. 

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) has been undertaken, a copy of the EIA can be found at Appendix 3.
  2. All victims have access to services within the Vale of Glamorgan.
  3. There will be no adverse impacts only improvement

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. This report is consistent with the Corporate Objective of the Council.
  2. Contributes to outcome 9 of the Community Strategy 2011 - 21 and the Wellbeing Outcome 1: An Inclusive and Safe Vale of the Corporate Plan 2016 - 20.

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The provision of Domestic and Sexual Abuse services is a Vale wide responsibility and there are no specific implications for individual wards.
  2. Councillor Rachel Nugent-Finn has been consulted as she is the local Authority champion for VAWDASV

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Homes and Safe Communities.

Background Papers

Appendix 1 - Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Strategy 2018 - 2023

Appendix 2 - Action Plan

Appendix 3 - Equality Impact Assessment

Contact Officer

Deborah Gibbs - Community Safety Manager.  

Officers Consulted

Housing Solutions and Supporting People Team Leader

Committee Reports - Legal 

Accountant for Housing and Building Services

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services