Agenda item

Domestic Abuse Arrangements - update


The Chair took the second public question at this point as it was in relation to this item.


Alison Hume

I welcome the announcement of a new domestic abuse strategy by North Yorkshire Council.

Here in the UK one in four women will experience domestic abuse.

Every 30 seconds the police receive a call relating to domestic violence.

On average three women every fortnight are killed in England and Wales by a partner or former partner.?

A recent report by the No Woman Turned Away Project found that, despite being required by the 2021 Domestic Abuse Act to provide refuge services and safe accommodation to domestic abuse victims, local authorities in England often did not have the resources or the knowledge to fulfil their statutory duty, failing victims.

I hope that the new North Yorkshire Council will be a beacon of hope for victims.  

Here in Scarborough, domestic abuse survivors are being forced to return to live with perpetrators, or face homelessness, because they are unable to get a place in a refuge. 

While dispersed accommodation in the community is often suitable, many women and children require the stable community environment offered by a refuge where services and support can be delivered more effectively.

Both IDAS and Beyond Housing have been progressing a refuge in Scarborough, which was first approved nearly ten years ago and finally received planning consent in June 2022.

As the “Our Vision” statement states that you are placing the “voice of the victim at the heart” of your response please could the Council confirm that this desperately needed refuge will be supported by the new strategy as women are literally crying out for this specialist provision.

Officer Response:

In reply, the Head of Community Safety and CCTV, Odette Robson explained that her presentation would provide further context but the proposed women’s refuge in Scarborough was a key element of the Safe Accommodation Strategy which included dispersed self-contained properties and Safe Haven, and reflected a holistic approach to meet victims’ needs and ensure they were kept safe from perpetrators.

Considered - a presentation by Odette Robson on domestic abuse arrangements in North Yorkshire Council. Members were advised about the local context across North Yorkshire and York and in Scarborough, the work done to provide safe accommodation and protect victims from perpetrators, the embedded multi-agency approach and use of commissioned services, the new governance model and development of the new Domestic Abuse Strategy 2024-28. Peaks in domestic abuse cases were referenced with attention drawn to sporting events and increased demand on services during the Covid pandemic. The types of safe accommodation, included but were not limited to refuges which were women only, and Safe Haven projects. Safe Haven was a national scheme. Most individuals who accessed this service were from outside of North Yorkshire, as they were leaving areas where they may be vulnerable. There was also ongoing work with perpetrators including a foundation which had been commissioned to develop a behavioural change programme. The HALO programme was also highlighted as a service which looked at illegal cultural harms and marginalised communities.


Following the presentation questions from members concerned:


-       Working with schools to promote a culture of prevention


-       The duration of the impact of COVID on domestic abuse


-       Concerns surrounding a well-known building in Scarborough being used as a refuge for victims.


-       Were 32 commitments too many to fulfil?


-       Absence of domestic violence as a category in police crime data


-       The delay in the 10 units which IDAS had been working on and concern surrounding the length of time this has taken.


-       Availability of temporary emergency accommodation for victims


In reply members were advised that:


-       Educational work in schools remained very important which was delivered locally by North Yorkshire Police school liaison officers and voluntary organisations.


-       One of the most significant impacts of the COVID pandemic was victims’ reduced access to services.  It took a long time to achieve that drop in recorded crimes after lockdown which reflected the complexity of domestic abuse and the multi-agency response required. A multi-agency strategy was developed with schemes within vaccination sites to raise awareness and aim to help victims.


-       The location of the proposed refuge in Scarborough had raised issues but this facility was just one element of a multi-faceted approach to support victims


-       The 32 commitments remained ambitious but there was a strong multi-agency approach behind the strategy

-       The council was working with North Yorkshire Police to overlay their data with domestic abuse incidents


-       A women’s refuge needed to be safe for victims, and communal living may not be appropriate for all.


-       The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance Accreditation Process (DAHA) model was key to the provision of temporary emergency accommodation.  This was the benchmark for how Local Authority Housing Providers should respond to domestic abuse in the UK. There was a DAHA Coordinator in place and a multi faceted Delivery Plan was under development to achieve accreditation


Resolved – That the presentation be noted.


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