8. Responding to Perpetrators

Your staff should not attempt to engage directly with, or confront perpetrators or suspected perpetrators directly.  The focus should be on protecting the victim through target hardening measures available in their organisation and referral to specialist agencies for support.  

Risk assessments should be put in place where staff are attending properties where there is a known perpetrator.  Policies and Procedures should be implemented from Management with regards to lone working and the safeguarding of the victim.  Also, staff need to be reminded of their safeguarding policy also with if there are children at the property.  

Further details can be found below:

Recognising the signs and behaviours

The findings from a survey of Social Landlords (SLs) conducted by South Wales Police and Crime Commissioners office in October 2015 found that all respondents to the survey stated that they had a Domestic Abuse work place policy and procedures in place. However, almost two thirds of SLs specified that they did not use organisational communications to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the workplace. Overall these SLs managed in excess of 20,000 properties in South Wales. This indicates there is a large amount of staff working in these SLs who are not receiving any form of organisational communication about domestic abuse.

Of the respondents only one SL stated that they had a domestic abuse single point of contact although another SL stated they had Domestic Abuse Champions within the workplace. No SLs mentioned having a domestic abuse handbook in place. As a means of raising awareness of the signs, both for victims and perpetrators, current lack of information is a contributory factor in the lack of proactive work taking place.  It is vital that robust policies and procedures, e.g. referral pathways, are put in place for all staff as a means of ensuring effective systems are introduced, communicated and utilised.

However, there is evidence of the use of flagging systems as a means of highlighting incidents of domestic abuse. This effective measure allows all frontline staff who attend the property to be aware that engagement with the individuals is already underway. 

Access to training

In order to ensure a consistent standard of care Social Landlords should review the Framework with a view to implementing its two main functions, that of:

1)    To provide consistent, proportionately disseminated training for relevant authorities to fundamentally improve the understanding of the general workforce and, therefore the response to those who experience violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

2)    To align existing specialist training to further professionalise the specialist sector, to improve consistency of specialist subject training provision nationally and to set core requirements of specialist service provision.

Effective programmes of preventative work will allow all housing providers to engage with tenants from an early stage, put in place effective measures to ensure the safety of all and also refer on to relevant agencies who will work with families to ensure that the cycle of abuse is addressed and remedied.  

Policy and position

Although housing associations are not subject to the same legislative framework as local authorities they need to be aware of the duties on local authorities to address housing need. Housing Associations should actively work with Local Authorities to help them fulfil this function and deliver good housing outcomes, particularly as this is a requirement of the regulatory framework in Wales. Section 95 of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 has significantly strengthened the duty to co-operate under the Housing Act 1996.  Section 170 of the 1996 Act requires Housing Associations to ‘co-operate to such an extent as is reasonable in the circumstances in offering accommodation to people with priority under the authority’s allocations scheme.

 

Section 167(2) of the 1996 Act gives Local Authorities the power to frame their allocation schemes so as to give additional preference to particular descriptions of people who fall within the reasonable preference categories and who have urgent housing needs. All Local Authorities must consider, in the light of local circumstances, the need to give effect to this provision. Examples of people  for whom this should be considered include; those owed a homelessness duty as a result of violence or threats of violence likely to be carried out and who as a result require urgent rehousing, for example victims of domestic or other abuse

 

However, other housing legislation doesn’t allow landlords to remove a perpetrator from a joint tenancy. This can only be done without the perpetrators consent if the victim applies to the courts themselves or the perpetrator agrees to assign the tenancy over to the victim/ or the perp ends the tenants and the social landlord is able to reissue a sole tenancy to the victim. Some social landlords have stated that they cannot reissue a sole tenancy to a victim if the victim ends their tenancy.

It is also evident that there is a degree of variation in relation to rehousing of victims and perpetrators.  Some Social landlords do not currently rehouse perpetrators to resolve the issue but do however rehouse victims in some instances. Other social landlords provide alternative accommodation to perpetrators as otherwise they would register as homeless. Allocation of accommodation is also crucial in that a perpetrator being offered accommodation near their victim would have a detrimental impact on all involved.  Here a proactive approach is required with a view of looking at long term solutions.