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Domestic Abuse: How we work together to protect our tenants

Unfortunately, many of us know someone, or know someone who knows someone who has been a victim or have been a victim of domestic abuse.

The effects of domestic abuse cannot be under estimated.  It affects the victim, the victim’s children, family, friends and the community they live in.  Many victims don’t realise that they are in an abusive relationship and the abuse becomes normalised.

The definition of Domestic Abuse is ‘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 sexuality’.

Here are some sobering facts:

  • Each year nearly 2 million people in the UK suffer some form of domestic abuse (1.3 million female and 600,000 male victims (ONS 2016)
  • 85% of victims sought help five times on average from professionals in the year before they got effective help to stop the abuse (Safelives 2014)
  • The majority of victims of domestic homicides recorded between April 2013 and March 2016 were females (ONS 2017)
  • 7 women a month are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales (ONS 2017)
  • On average high risk victims live with domestic abuse for 2.3 years before getting help (Safelives 2015)

There have been a number of high profile murder cases throughout the United Kingdom in recent years which has resulted in a more joined up way of working amongst agencies to try and stop this happening and to ensure that the correct support is in place for any victims.

In all areas of Wales there are now MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) teams that deal with high risk cases. These cases are often complex and can escalate over many years or just a few months.

A nationally used specific risk assessment is completed by an agency worker i.e. support worker, social worker, housing officer etc. The questions on the risk assessment relate to risk factors that can lead to serious harm and murder and it allows professionals to identify high risk victims of domestic abuse. If a certain threshold has been met, then a referral with the risk assessment is then sent to the MARAC team.

The Cardiff MARAC team meet fortnightly with representatives from the Police, Housing, Mental Health Teams, Health Visitors, Midwives, Education to name but a few.

In these meetings discussions are held and actions set that have to be taken by certain authorities and/or agencies. Some actions could be the Police checking on victim’s welfare at regular intervals, extra support to be given to children in school, extra security to be arranged at the victim’s home e.g. extra locks on windows and doors, make referrals to other appropriate support agencies etc. This list is not exhaustive and will be depend on the individual and the situation at hand.

Unfortunately, the number of MARAC cases has increased considerably year on year. In Cardiff in 2017:

  • 1208 referrals were made to MARAC
  • 453 cases were discussed in MARAC
  • 96 victims were identified as repeat victims
  • 657 children were identified to be involved
  • 433 of the victims were female and 20 male
  • 8 victims were identified as being between 16-17 years old
  • 60 cases were from Black Minority Ethnic families

Of those victims that did not meet the MARAC threshold, other support would have been put in place which may have included moving victims to refuges, ongoing social services involvement and/or ongoing Women’s Aid support. These victims would not have been left to cope on their own. The involved agencies would also be continuingly assessing whether any risk has increased and if it had, then a new MARAC referral would be submitted.

If you are a landlord and know of someone who needs support with regards to domestic abuse, please help them. There are many agencies that can assist and give advice. Whether the victim then takes that advice would be up to them, but at least you’ve recognised that there is a problem and passed on a supporting agencies details to them.

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