The practice examples that follow demonstrate how Gwent social landlords are using multi-agency working to ensure effective, coordinated responses. Below this, other organisational processes are outlined to describe how they can be effective within the orgaisation.
Participating in the Gwent Domestic Abuse Conference Call - Tai Calon Community Housing
The Gwent Domestic Abuse Conference Call, (DACC), is a multi-agency information sharing process introduced by Gwent Police in 2011.
Gwent Police shares information on incidents of domestic abuse daily; information is shared initially via the SharePoint database.
The force then decides which cases will be discussed on the conference call, based on risk assessment, repetition, additional vulnerabilities and whether consent to share has been given. The force also chairs the conference calls; cases are discussed daily, actions agreed and the organisations responsible are identified.
All Free from Fear partners participate in the DACC, although some Gwent local authority areas now operate a SharePoint-only approach and don't join the conference call.
Tai Calon's approach to DACC
Two staff from Tai Calon's antisocial behaviour, (ASB), team take responsibility for checking the SharePoint and call the DACC daily.
Upon checking SharePoint, the ASB advisor identifies if any cases involve a tenant; Tai Calon tenants often appear on SharePoint and are discussed in the DACC most week days. Prior to the conference call Tai Calon staff check tenant history via their own database.
The ASB advisor noted any previous reports of domestic abuse, including any contact or interventions by Tai Calon, such as welfare visits or target hardening. They also note any maintenance, reports of ASB, or other tenancy issues that may be significant.
The ASB advisor then participates on the call, sharing information, recording significant information from other agencies and offering appropriate interventions, such as welfare checks, target hardening or signposting.
The DACC has had a big impact on Tai Calon's approach to domestic violence: "Participating in the Gwent DACC opened our eyes to domestic abuse," said a staff member. "It was a trigger to get staff better trained, the trigger for welfare checks for domestic abuse cases."
Participating in Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Bron Afon Community Housing
Bron Afon Community Housing has a dedicated staff member who works on domestic abuse cases. This includes attending MARAC meetings Torfaen, whether or not a tenant will be discussed. Bron Afon introduced this policy because:
- Routine attendance at MARAC has enabled Bron Afon to build relationships and collaborate with other agencies, increasing understanding, building trust and goodwill
- It raises awareness among other agencies of how social landlords can help tackle domestic abuse as part of a multi-agency
- It provides Bron Afon with intelligence that has helped keep tenants safe
- It allows Bron Afon to build a reputation as a social landlord that is compassionate and committed to tackling domestic abuse
- Bron Afon has offered support at MARAC meetings to victims who are not tenants
- As a result, Bron Afon receives enquiries from other agencies about its support of victims of domestic abuse
Examples of actions given to Bron Afon at MARAC:
- Offering target hardening to tenants who had refused target hardening from the police (the Bron Afon offer was accepted)
- Confirmation of a joint or sole tenancy status application, with a follow up needed on a joint tenancy application because of significant adult at risk and child at risk concerns
- Checking on the history of ASB by tenants, which would provide grounds for an injunction against the perpertrator
Offers of support made by Bron Afon to victims who are not tenants:
- Access to the Bron Afon befriending service
- Re-housing of a disabled woman, who was assessed as a high risk domestic abuse case and could not access refuge space because of her disabilities. Bron Afon quickly re-housed the woman, and made disability adaptations to the property
Staff need to know how to appropriately refer, how to use common tools and protocols effectively, and how they can contribute to a coordinated community response. If staff don't understand these procedures, it will impact on their ability to properly respond.
Staff need to be allocated to attend multi-agency meetings such as MARAC, and teams need the capacity to enable their attendance. For consistency it is usually better if the same staff member attends each meeting.
During the Free from Fear tenant and service user consultation, this comment was made by a staff member accompanying a client from another agency: "It's really important housing attends meetings such as POVA - it's not helpful when housing staff are not at meetings; it means they are not up to speed with important information - they also can't appreciate the complexities, the history and the issues."
Policies and procedures
Clear policies and procedurres ensure staff know the appropriate referral pathways. They enable consistency, and directly impact on the organisation's ability to respond effectively and identify appropriate referral to other agencies or multi-agency groups.
Information sharing protocols
An ISP can add clarity to what is permissable, and adds accountability. ISPs create minimum standards that everyone agrees to work to, which helps to build trust by alleviating concerns around different working practices.
Organisations that are risk averse or protective about involving othera, can result in professionals being more reluctant to share information with other agencies. This in turn hampers a coordinated approach, since staff are prevented from seeing others' involvement and learning from their insight. This can lead to gaps in information and potentially duplication.