The Head of Community and Housing Services presented the Domestic Abuse Policy for the Executive Committee’s consideration.
Members were advised that the policy set out how the Council would equip staff to identify and support victims of domestic abuse. The policy would enable the Council to respond to provisions in the Domestic Abuse Bill which, when it came into force in April 2021, would introduce a duty for local authorities to house victims of domestic abuse and their children. The legislation also introduced a statutory definition of domestic abuse, recognising that it could be physical, emotional and / or coercive.
The policy also highlighted the action that was already taken by the Council to address domestic abuse. For example, the Council worked with a range of partner organisations and was part of multi-agency groups tackling domestic abuse.
In discussing the policy, Members commented that there had unfortunately been an increase nationally in the number of cases of domestic abuse that had been reported during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Council had a history of demonstrating this support, though participation in the White Ribbon Campaign and the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes initiative. The policy recognised that both women and men could be victims of domestic abuse.
During consideration of this item Members questioned whether the trades unions had been consulted about the content of the policy. The Committee was informed that relevant Officers had been consulted but there was some uncertainty about whether the trades unions had also been consulted. Officers undertook to consult with the trade unions after the meeting.
Reference was also made to the availability of training in respect of domestic abuse. It was suggested that this training should be made available to elected Members and that they should all be encouraged to attend. Members were advised that this suggestion would be referred to the next meeting of the Member Support Steering Group, which was responsible for determining Member training arrangements, for further consideration.
1) the draft Domestic Abuse Policy be adopted; and
2) the Head of Housing and Community Services be given delegated authority to update and amend the policy in line with any new legislation and guidance, as and when required