Domestic Abuse policy

Domestic Abuse Policy Version 2 Approved 28 May 2020 - Level 1 policy. Part of the Trust’s ASB & Hate Crime Framework. 

1. Purpose & Scope

1.1 This Policy sets out Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust’s approach in dealing with domestic abuse. We take domestic abuse seriously and will work with other organisations to support survivors and their families.
1.2 This Policy sets out that the Trust will not tolerate acts of domestic abuse and includes what we will do:

  • when domestic abuse is reported to us, and

  • what help we will provide to survivors of domestic abuse

  • the action the Trust can take to deal with perpetrators of domestic abuse, up to and including eviction

1.3 The Trust is committed to investigating and tackling all alleged incidents of domestic abuse. We recognise that effective and co-ordinated action will improve the quality of life for survivors.
1.4 All Trust staff must understand the important role they can play in tackling domestic abuse in implementing a consistent approach across the organisation. Trust staff must have a range of tools available to them and need to be suitably trained and supported in order that these can be effectively applied when dealing with incidents of domestic abuse.
1.5 This Policy links directly to the Trust’s Safeguarding Policies.

2. Definitions

2.1 The definition of Domestic abuse used by this Policy is taken from the Home Office (March 2013), which remains unchanged: “Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality”. The term ‘Domestic abuse’ covers a range of types of abuse, including, but not limited to, psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse. ‘Domestic abuse’ can be prosecuted under a range of offences and the term is used to describe a range of controlling and coercive behaviours, used by one person to maintain control over another with whom they have, or have had, an intimate or family relationship. Domestic abuse also includes, ‘honour-based violence, Female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages Section 20 of the Adoption and Children’s Act 2002 has extended the definition of harming children to include “harm suffered by hearing or seeing the ill treatment of others, especially in the home”.

3. Policy Statement

3.1 The Trust will encourage its residents and witnesses to report all incidents of domestic abuse by widely publicising and promoting this Policy. The Trust will make sure this Policy is easily accessible, available on demand and via the Trust’s website.
3.2 Reports of domestic abuse can be made to the Trust by phone, email, visiting our web site or at our office. All reports will be responded to in line with the Trust Domestic Abuse Procedure for urgent response and support for the survivor. Details of other partner services will be made available to survivors to enable them to either report an incident, seek advice or both. Details are set out in Appendix 1.All reports of domestic abuse will be responded to within one day.
3.4 We will deal with domestic abuse in a confidential, sensitive and nonjudgemental way. We will always put the feelings of the survivor first and recognise the extreme sensitivity of investigating domestic abuse.
3.6 We will share information with partner services and participate and contribute to the local Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) to ensure we are part of and support an effective strategic approach in supporting survivors and families suffering financial, emotional or physical abuse. If the abuse is reported to the Trust before any other agency, we will carry out a Safe Lives DASH risk assessment to assess the level of risk.
3.7 The Trust will work with the relevant Local Authority to provide survivors with a flexible range of options in relation to their housing. Where it is safe to do so, the Trust will work with the relevant agencies to help survivors to continue to live in their home and will take action against the perpetrator wherever possible. We do, however, recognise that in some circumstances the survivor may need to be rehoused.
3.8 Our first priority will be to protect the survivor by assessing the risk. We will then, if acting as the lead agency in managing the case, draw up a safety plan and exploring appropriate options with the survivor. This could be identifying a place of safety, establishing the whereabouts of the perpetrator and explore potentially quick resolution or protection by way of matrimonial rights or other provisions under family law.
3.9 We will provide advice to survivors of domestic abuse of the legal remedies they can access and pursue, which includes applying for a non-molestation orders and occupation orders. Non-molestation Orders aim to prevent the abuser from using violence, threatening violence, harassing, pestering or intimidating the applicant. Occupation Orders can tell the abuser to leave the home and provide an exclusion order with the possibility of a power of arrest if the order is broken. In the case of joint tenancies, we will not require a survivor to leave the property if the perpetrator attempts to terminate the tenancy.
3.10 We will, where proportionate and reasonable, use the various powers of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and the Housing Act 1988, as amended, to evict the perpetrator of the violence or seek an injunction on behalf of the Trust if the perpetrator is also a tenant. An injunction can also be sought against a non-tenant where it can be proven that their actions constitute behaviour likely to affect the Trust’s housing management functions.
3.11 The ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 includes the provision of absolute grounds of possession, this includes where there has been a serious criminal conviction for violent or sexual offences or breach of a civil injunction. In accordance with the guidance accompanying the Act we will use these ground(s) selectively, for the most serious cases of ASB by way of domestic abuse.
3.12 If a domestic abuse incident causes damage to our property and falls within our normal landlord repair responsibilities, we will carry out the repair as a matter of urgency and recharge the cost of the repair to the abuser where possible. Wherever possible, we will seek a criminal conviction for criminal damage and compensation for our costs.
3.13 If a survivor experiencing domestic abuse requires re-housing we will support the survivor in gaining re-housing via the relevant Local Authority Homeless Department. The Housing Act 1996 sets out clearly those duties a housing authority owes vulnerable survivors of domestic abuse and other violence. Where appropriate, an internal management move may also be considered, if it apparent that the risk can be managed locally. In the case of joint tenancies, where parties wish to separate yet both wish to keep the tenancy, advice will be given to assist parties seek a legal transfer of the tenancy in the County Courts.
3.14 We will share information with partner services in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR provisions, and comply with prevailing best practice guidance relating to information sharing, including signing up to Information Sharing Protocols with key partners where it is appropriate for us to do so.
3.16 The support and advice provided by the Trust to survivors will be kept strictly confidential, unless the detail of such guidance is legally required by a statutory authority. This includes by way of being signatory to an Information Sharing Protocol.
3.17 Currently the Trust is part of the Buckinghamshire Information Sharing Protocol and we will share information with external partners such as Police, Fire Brigade, Probation, relevant Local Authorities and Oxfordshire & Bucks Mental Health Service to resolve and reduce instances of domestic abuse..
3.18 Where the risk of harm is high to members of the household, we may have to share information with partners under our Safeguarding policies.

4. Equality & Diversity

4.1 The Trust will ensure that in delivering our services we continue to be inclusive and representative. This will be achieved through our Equality and Diversity Policy.
4.2 The Trust will ensure that the Policy is widely available at the Trust office and on our website. The Policy can be made available in large print, braille or on audio tape upon request. Translation into other languages will be available.

5. Value for Money

5.1 The Trust’s primary objective within this Policy is to effectively support survivors of domestic abuse and through the implementation of the Domestic Abuse Procedure ensure all cases are managed effectively and efficiently.

6. Consultation

6.1 The Domestic Violence Co-ordinator at Thames Valley Police, Aylesbury Women’s Aid, Aylesbury Vale District Council, the Trust’s Lettings Department and Senior Managers Group have been consulted during the review of this Policy.

7. Implementation

7.1 The Housing Services Manager is responsible for the implementation of this Policy.
7.2 Regular training of staff, case reviews, performance monitoring and reporting and regular case spot checks by the Housing Services Manager will be carried out.
7.3 The Trust will ensure that relevant staff receive ongoing training on this Policy and will know what to do if they receive a report of domestic abuse. This will enable staff to provide sensitive, consistent and professional support to survivors of domestic abuse.

8. Monitoring & Outcomes

8.1 The Housing Services Manager is responsible for monitoring this Policy and reporting outcomes.
8.2 The Trust will record all reports of domestic abuse and action taken. The Domestic Abuse Procedure sets out how the Trust records, investigates and aims to resolve reports of domestic abuse.
8.3 The Housing Services Manager and ASB Case Managers will, on an annual basis, provide a report to the Operations Directorate Management Team on the delivery of its Anti Social Behaviour Services, instances of domestic abuse will be included in this report.
8.4 The annual ASB data report reported to the Board will also include information on our response to domestic abuse complaints.

9. Period Of Review

9.1 This Policy will be subject to a three yearly review cycle or when a business need arises and in line with the relevant Policy Framework. Our review programme is driven by service improvement initiatives, changes in legislation, regulation, practice or as a result of feedback from key stakeholders.
9.2 This Policy has been subject to an Equality Impact Assessment, further assessments shall be undertaken where required based primarily on the profile data of customers that have used the service, to ensure that the service is fully accessible.

10. Related Policies & Procedures

10.1 The Trust has a number of policies and procedures in other areas, which support the Domestic Abuse Policy, they include:

  • Harassment and Hate Crime Policy

  • Domestic Abuse Procedure

  • Anti-social Behaviour Policy

  • Allocation and Lettings Policy

  • Equality and Diversity Policy

  • Data Protection Policy

  • Anti-social Behaviour Procedures.

  • Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy

  • Vulnerable Children and Young People Safeguarding Policy

Policy author details
Author Heledd Williams
Job title Assistant Director of Housing
Email heledd.williams@vaht.co.uk
Phone 01296 732696
Publication PUBLIC


Appendix 1

Domestic Abuse Services

Other support, information and advocacy services

Services for Children and Young People

Services for Perpetrators

  • Respect: 0808 802 4040 - Information and advice to support domestic violence perpetrators stop their violence and change their abusive behaviour - http://respect.uk.net/

  • Fresh Start Buckinghamshire : 01908 295739 - The service is based around an individual programme for perpetrators of domestic abuse