Chudleigh Town Council Domestic Abuse-Statement of Policy 2019 (revised March 2020)
Chudleigh Town Council (CTC) upholds the universal right to life, liberty and security of person. The Council endorses the definition of domestic abuse contained in the Domestic Abuse Bill 2020 which is currently before Parliament.
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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 sexual orientation. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional forms of abuse. Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape, and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a person.
As a Town Council, CTC is in close daily contact with residents, businesses and local organisations. This puts councillors and staff in a key position to take positive action to support those who are involved in a situation of domestic abuse. CTC will aim to demonstrate that domestic abuse, and behaviours that form part of the escalation towards abuse, are not acceptable in our community.
The CTC Safeguarding officer will ensure that this policy supports Safeguarding as there are clear links between domestic abuse and the safety of both children and adults.
Devon and Cornwall have led the way over a number of years in pursuing a multi-agency approach to tackling domestic abuse. CTC will ensure that up to date information is maintained on the Council website on sources of advice, support and practical assistance. In particular we will link to the Devon Domestic Abuse Support Services and the Sexual Violence Service, Leesar Partnership. Annexe 1 gives a list of current resources. This will be updated annually or as needed if agencies change.
We will support training and awareness raising of these issues so that everyone knows how best to help and act safely in different situations that may lead to abuse. It is important that people have the information and skills to act safely if they are worried about someone and want to do something about it. Annexe 2 offers guidance to residents on what to do if they are worried about someone else
CTC will develop an employer policy so that all staff working for the council who may be victims, survivors or perpetrators of abuse know how to take action and to seek advice and support and managers are clear about their roles in this regard. This will be modelled on best practice with particular reference to guidelines produced by the Department of Health and SafeLives. CTC will adapt this policy towards domestic abuse as experienced by or perpetrated by councillors to enhance the current Code of Conduct.
Annexe 1. Resources (revised March 31st 2020)
Devon Domestic Abuse Support Services 0345 155 1074 www.splitz.org/devon Helpdesk open 9.30am to 4.30pm. Staff may be working remotely. Wherever possible please email email@example.com if you have any queries and to make referrals.
Devon Rape Crisis helpline support 01392 204174 Helpline open 9am to 12 noon Monday to Friday
Devon and Cornwall Police: https://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/domestic-abuse-support. Dial 999 in an emergency and 101 otherwise to report a case or incident.
Victim Care Network: www.victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk to support victims of crime but also a great source of additional support agencies on their website.
Children’s Social Work Services: MASH 0345 155 1071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Out of hours emergency 0345 6000 388
Devon Social Services: Adult Social Care 0345 1551 007, or out of hours emergency 0345 6000 388 or email email@example.com
Intercom Trust for LGBT helpline and crime support in Devon and Cornwall 0800 612 3010 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stop Abuse For Everyone (SAFE) 030 30 30 0112
SAFE specialised services to those affected by domestic violence and abuse.
https://www.fearless.org/en/anonymous A resource for those who wish to tell someone about a crime but do not wish to be identified (particularly helpful for young people).
National Rape Crisis 0808 802 9999
National Domestic Violence helpline: 0808 2000 247: 24 hour freephone helpline for women
Women’s Aid 0808 2000 247 https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/
National Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm
Galop: Making life safe, just and fair for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people: 020 7704 2040
Children and Young People. Childline: 0800 1111/NSPCC Helpline: 0800 5000
Samaritans. For emotional support in a crisis: 0945 909090
Shelterline. National Housing Advice Line: 0808 800 4444
National FGM centre www.nationalfgmcentre.org.uk
Forced marriage Helpline 020 7008 0151 www.gov.uk/guidance/forced marriage.org
Annexe 2. What to do when you are worried about someone else
The chances are high that you may know a sister, brother, mum, dad, colleague, cousin or friend who is experiencing abuse behind closed doors. This is like to be exacerbated during the period of social distancing and social isolating.
Unless you are trying to help someone who has been very open about their experiences it may be difficult for you to acknowledge the problem directly.
However, there are some basic steps that you can take to assist and give support to a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour or anyone you know who confides in you that they are experiencing domestic abuse.
How you can help
Listen to them, try to understand and take care not to blame them. Tell the that they are not alone and that there are many people in the same situation.
Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse. Give them time to talk, but don’t push them to go into too much detail if they do not want to.
Acknowledge that they are in a frightening and very difficult situation.
Tell them that no one deserves to be threatened, or beaten, despite what their abuser has told them. Nothing they can do or say can justify the abuser’s behaviour.
Support them as a friend. Encourage them to express their feelings, whatever they are. Allow them to make their own decisions.
Don’t tell them to leave the relationship if they are not ready to do this. This has to be their decision.
Ask if they are hurt or have suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with them to a hospital or to see the G.P.
Help them to report the assault to the police if they choose to do so.
Be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help. Explore the available options with them, (see Annexe 1).
Support them in phoning a solicitor if they are ready to take this step, family law solicitors offer free 30 minutes of advice.
Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship.
Let them create their own boundaries of what they think is safe and what is not safe; don’t urge them to follow any strategies that they express doubt about. They know their partner best and have been keeping themselves safe and are best placed to make these decisions.
Offer your friend the use of your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages, and tell them you will look after an emergency bag for them, if they want this. Preserve social distancing as advised by the government.
Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time. Ensure that you do not put yourself into a dangerous situation, for example do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend or let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.
Annexe 2 cont.
I’ve heard fighting going on at my next-door neighbour’s house. What can I do to stop this happening?
This can be a difficult problem as, being a neighbour, you don’t necessarily know your neighbours very well and you don’t exactly know what is happening.
However, if you hear an incident and think that your neighbour is in danger, and any children they may have are also in danger, then you should contact the police.
The police have a responsibility to respond and to undertake a risk assessment where there is domestic abuse taking place.
If there are children in the house and you are concerned for their safety you could consider contacting social services. They would be able to work with the family to help protect the children from harm.
If possible, you could mention by phone to your neighbour that you’ve overheard some fighting and that you are worried about them. You can encourage them to seek some help. There will be options available to help support them in staying safe.