FOI Request - Domestic Abuse Policy
1. Do you have a specific Domestic Abuse policy in the housing department?
a. Are all staff given information on this policy during induction or during any other time?
2. Do you offer training and awareness for housing department staff on how to deal with victims of domestic abuse?
a. How many members of staff have taken this training?
3. What could a Scottish Government do to assist the housing department to provide a better service to victims of abuse.
a. Do you think a Scottish Government could do more to help local authorities provide more options to victims of domestic abuse and to keep the victim in the family home?
4. Is there anything else you would like to add
Please note following answers mainly relate to Housing Options, Homelessness & Housing Support
1. No, not a specific Policy however the issue of Domestic Abuse features in the following documents:
• Housing Options Procedure – Housing Options is a frontline service that deals with people who have housing issues or people who may be at risk of homelessness. Those experiencing Domestic Abuse certainly fall within this category. The Housing Options procedures contain guidance as it relates to various aspects of this issue, for example, gaining relevant info as to whether it forms a part of the customer’s approaching circumstances (so appropriate advice can be given and appointment prioritisation can be applied), relevant rights, child protection considerations, risk-assessing/safety considerations and the raising of relevant external safety and support services.
• Prevent1 Guidance – this is the Scottish Government monitoring mechanism in place for Housing Options & Homeless Prevention Activities. This also contains guidance re the issues of domestic abuse, mainly as it relates to the selecting of appropriate reasons for approach and preventative actions.
• Housing Support Procedures – As the Housing Support service mainly supports customer who are in the Homeless system or have recently gained permanent housing via the Homeless system, they also have contact with customers who have experienced or may still be experiencing Domestic Abuse. The guidance that these procedures provides include aspects such as recognising what Domestic abuse can entail (not just physical factors) identifying/assessing supports needs potentially being related to Domestic Abuse, security issues/considerations, potential requirements for wider service input/additional advice and actions to be taken if any children are present within the Domestic Abuse context.
• Homelessness Policy – this provides guidance as it relates to the 3x tests and so duties towards customers, risks, & definitions, considerations re referrals to other areas.
• Homelessness procedures – various references & guidance as per Housing Options & Housing Support procedures and Homelessness Policy.
• Allocations Policy – contains guidance relating to the issues of Domestic Abuse, for example as it relates to customer aspirations/need to move due to such issues, referrals to relevant teams (such as the Housing Options Team) & making relevant enquiries.
a. As above answer there is no specific policy however all the aforementioned policies and procedures form part of staff induction and are available to all staff at all times on a library in our document management system.
2. Yes – this is done in the various ways.
• Staff induction to each service (in part this is done via utilising relevant procedures, as listed above).
• Attending appropriate training such as Domestic Abuse Awareness Training. It should be noted that the exact title and format of such training can change depending on the provider. For example, some Housing Options staff recently attended training for a related issue of the “Psychology of intimate interpersonal violence”. The issue of Domestic Abuse forms a component of PDA level 7 Housing Law & Advice, undertaken my most housing staff.
• Knowledge & awareness fostered via the resources that are maintained to be issued to customers – leaflets, advice lines etc
• Visits are undertaken to related services, for example Moray Women’s Aid.
• Housing services form an active part of local MARAC, MATAC and DSDAS initiatives.
a. All frontline housing staff has been given awareness training on domestic abuse. It is a mandatory requirement for frontline officers.
i) The criminal justice system and courts should do more to address this type of behaviour;
ii) The matrimonial Homes Act could be updated to consider better rights for co-habiting couples;
iii) The current homelessness guidance requires to be updated so it would be helpful as part of this process that the section on domestic abuse is likewise updated.
i) The rights of the victim have to be protected. On too many occasions children forced to leave the family home. It would be helpful if the Scottish Government could legislate to protect the victims and require the offender to be removed from the dwelling – where appropriate.