Response - Safety and Justice

By: Helen Lewis  Published: June 2003


In June 2003 the Home Office issued its 'Safety and Justice' consultation paper, setting out its new strategy for tackling domestic violence. Shelter's response covered its core concerns and recommendations to improve the strategy's effectiveness.

Summary

The Homelessness Directorate has highlighted violent relationship breakdown as one of the most significant causes of homelessness and therefore requiring particular action from local authorities.

Shelter's core concerns

Shelter's response to Safety and Justice focuses on three areas:

  • Implementation of homelessness legislation.
  • The effectiveness of current legislation and guidance in providing a safety net for vulnerable people leaving home due to domestic violence.
  • The effectiveness of policy, safety and support services in enabling victims to stay in their homes, or use emergency accommodation.

Recommendations

A selection of Shelter's recommendations is highlighted below.

Strategic development

There needs to be further research and monitoring on implementation of the Homelessness Act 2002, to examine how increased awareness about domestic violence issues gained through the homelessness review and strategy process translates into better services for victims and their families.

The proposals in the Green Paper, 'Every Child Matters' should be used as an opportunity to develop a more stable planning and funding base for services to children in households experiencing domestic violence.

Monitoring

The Homelessness Directorate should follow the example set out in the Supporting People programme and consider the appointment of a dedicated worker to monitor local authority homelessness strategies and develop cross-authority initiatives.

Data collection

Data collection methods by local authorities need to be improved. In the short term, the P1E form needs to be amended to show secondary causes of homelessness. In the longer-term this needs to be supplemented by a case-by-case recording system.

Priority need

The Priority Need Order in England in relation to vulnerability needs to be amended. The Welsh Priority Need Order - giving automatic priority need to people fleeing domestic violence - should be adopted. This will reduce current inconsistencies in local authority practice and increase the support given to victims of domestic violence.

Support

The Government proposal to enforce minimum standards in temporary accommodation should also include the requirement that local authorities make arrangements for support services to be put in place and that the temporary accommodation offered is suitable for an applicant and their family, based on an assessment of their support needs.

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