Green councillor urges Cabinet to look again at domestic violence housing policy
This afternoon Green councillor Carla Denyer will present a statement to Cabinet which asks them to reconsider their policy for rehousing survivors of domestic abuse.
The proposed new Bristol City Council policy1, which will be considered at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, has been prepared in response to a motion that was passed by Full Council is March 2016, supported by all parties. However, many campaigners and domestic violence survivors say that it’s too small an improvement
Bristol Zero Tolerance (BZT) is a Bristol Women’s Commission initiative run by Bristol Women’s Voice and funded by Public Health as prevention work. The aim of the project is to work towards Bristol becoming a city free from gender-based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. Their consultation response2 says
“This proposal does not go far enough to prioritise housing for women, and their families, who have experienced domestic abuse and are living in refuge provision. The Council motion […] pledged that all those fleeing domestic abuse in Bristol would be in Band 1 in terms of housing priority. This policy does not reflect this decision and will not ensure that those in this position receive housing priority.”
However, the concerns of BZT and other consultation respondents seem not to have been addressed by the updated proposals
Councillor Denyer explains,
“My main worry is the means by which people in need of urgent rehousing get referred. Contrary to advice supplied by Bristol Zero Tolerance, the proposal will only allow people who are engaged in a ‘MARAC’ (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) process and have been classified as high-risk to be recommended to be moved into band 1.
“The problem with this is that the main referrer to the MARAC process is the police, and many victims do not go to the police, particularly women of colour, LGBTQ women and disabled women.3 Worse still, research shows that most victims of domestic homicide were not classed as ‘high risk’.4 As Bristol Zero Tolerance said in their consultation response, ‘MARAC is a tool which is not perfect and which does not perfectly protect all victims from violence therefore using the concept of ‘high risk’ of death or injury should not be used as the only criteria for support.’”
Councillor Denyer has proposed that Cabinet reconsider the policy, and explore alternative approaches to protecting domestic violence victims as recommended by the UK charity ‘Standing Together Against Domestic Violence’.4
Carla Denyer, Green Party councillor for Clifton Down
Notes to Editor:
Proposals to Cabinet, p307 onwards (includes consultation responses from campaigning organisations, survivors and other members of the public) https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/documents/g388/Public%20reports%20pack%2007th-Mar-2017%2016.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
Bristol Zero Tolerance consultation response: http://www.bristolzerotolerance.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/BZT_BWV-Housing-Consultation-Response.pdf
SafeLives report on ending domestic abuse: http://www.safelives.org.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Getting%20it%20right%20first%20time%20-%20complete%20report.pdf
Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) Case Analysis Report for Standing Together: http://www.standingtogether.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/STADV_DHR_Report_Final.pdf
The full version of Cllr Denyer’s statement to Cabinet, below:
STATEMENT TO CABINET – Tuesday 7th March 2017
SUBMITTED BY GREEN COUNCILLORS
Agenda Item 12: Prioritising victims of domestic violence and abuse for rehousing
Councillor Carla Denyer
While this proposed change to housing policy for domestic violence survivors is undoubtedly an improvement on what we have currently, I think it’s too small an improvement. My main reason for concern is the means by which people in need of urgent rehousing get referred.
Contrary to advice supplied by Bristol Zero Tolerance in the consultation, you have chosen to only allow people who are engaged in a ‘MARAC’ (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) process and have been classified as high-risk to be recommended to be moved into band 1.
The problem with this is that the main referrer to the MARAC process is the police, and many victims do not go to the police, particularly women of colour, LGBTQ women and disabled women.1 Worse still, research shows that most victims of domestic homicide were not classed as ‘high risk’.2 As Bristol Zero Tolerance said in their consultation response, “MARAC is a tool which is not perfect and which does not perfectly protect all victims from violence therefore using the concept of ‘high risk’ of death or injury should not be used as the only criteria for support.”
I refer you to Bristol Zero Tolerance’s consultation response for more detail: http://www.bristolzerotolerance.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/BZT_BWV-Housing-Consultation-Response.pdf
I ask you to reconsider before making this decision, including exploring alternative approaches to protecting domestic violence victims, as recommended in  (from page 71).
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