Domestic abuse initiative supports 15 victims in first weeks

Fifteen victims of domestic abuse have come forward to request help from West Dunbartonshire Council in the first weeks of a groundbreaking new initiative.

Launched in partnership with Police Scotland, Women’s Aid and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), the No Home for Domestic Abuse approach introduced strict new enforcement provisions which will see perpetrators removed from the family home in a bid to put a stop to abuse offences in council properties.

As well as helping 15 victims, housing officers have assisted an offender who asked for help changing his behaviour towards the woman he lived with.

The new approach – which came into effect in June – means victims will be given tenancy rights to a shared home should they wish to remain in the property.

The details of the initiative were relayed to councillors at a meeting of the housing and communities committee yesterday.

Councillor Diane Docherty, convener of the committee, said: “This scheme has only been running for a matter of weeks and already we have helped not only victims, but offenders.

“This goes to show that what we are doing is working, and we are playing a big part in helping to eradicate domestic abuse in West Dunbartonshire once and for all.”

Councillor Caroline McAllister, vice convener and spokesperson for community empowerment, added: “The news that this initiative is already working for victims of domestic abuse is great. I would urge anyone who still needs support to get in touch with the council.

“We know domestic abuse is a significant issue in West Dunbartonshire, and that’s why a radical plan is needed to change it.”

The No Home for Domestic Abuse campaign introduces an assumption that all tenancies for couples are in a joint name.

If an incident of domestic abuse occurs, the victim will legally and practically be supported to remain in the home.

Victims will also have immediate access to practical help and legal assistance.

West Dunbartonshire Council is the first in Scotland to introduce such robust measures to combat domestic abuse.

Janine Jardine, from Dumbarton District Women’s Aid, pledged her full support to the council’s campaign.

She said: “Domestic abuse has a devastating effect on our community, far reaching into individuals’ homes, places of work and education. The council’s campaign will ensure those affected and their children are offered the help and support they want at the earliest opportunity. Women’s Aid in both Dumbarton and Clydebank have supported hundreds of women, children and young people so far this year with the provision of safe refuge and outreach support.

“We know there is a long way to go to eradicate domestic abuse from our communities but the council’s No Home for Domestic Abuse campaign is a welcomed initiative offering choice and space for action to those affected by and experiencing domestic abuse. No Home for Domestic Abuse sends a clear message that perpetration of domestic abuse will not be tolerated by West Dunbartonshire Council.”

Zhan McIntyre, policy lead at Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said: “West Dunbartonshire’s No Home for Domestic Abuse campaign is a positive and much welcomed step towards embedding and promoting positive practice among housing providers in relation to domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse is a marker of gender inequality and we all have a part to play on shining a light on this issue and start delivering better outcomes for women and girls who are subjected to abuse.

“SFHA is pleased to have been invited to explore how we might work together in the future to promote good practice.”

In May, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) launched its own four-step ‘Make a Stand’ pledge to encourage housing organisations to help tackle domestic abuse.

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