Evidence base for preventing homelessness and rough sleeping strategy

6. Domestic violence and abuse

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 aims to raise awareness and understanding of domestic violence and abuse (DVA), improve the effectiveness of the justice system and strengthen support for victims of abuse. Local authorities are required to have a strategy for preventing and tackling DVA.

From a homelessness perspective, eligible victims of domestic abuse are automatically considered a priority under homelessness legislation, and where a new tenancy is offered to someone moving as a result of domestic abuse, a lifetime tenancy should be offered if one was held previously.

Buckinghamshire Council has a strong Local Partnership Board working to prevent and tackle DVA. The 2021 Annual Report from the Director of Public Health highlights awareness raising, education and training and the provision of good quality support and advocacy services. The case studies include work with perpetrators to tackle their behaviours. The report prioritises a number of areas moving forwards:

  • County-wide participation in the national campaign to raise awareness of DVA
  • Bystander training to tackle harmful attitudes, language and behaviour
  • Increasing diversity within the DVA champions scheme
  • High-quality shared training for key stakeholders and front-line staff
  • The development of a DVA referral pathway
  • Evidence-based commissioning of services to tackle perpetrators

Buckinghamshire Council has recently adopted a new strategy to tackle DVA (Domestic Abuse Strategy 2021 – 2024, agreed by Cabinet on 7 December 2021). The Homelessness Strategy should support the aims of the DA strategy; implementing the DA strategy should help to reduce the number of people who become homeless as a result of DVA.

The priorities in the DA strategy are:

  • Early intervention and prevention
  • Effective services that meet the needs of victims and their families
  • Tackling perpetrators to reduce reoffending
  • Supporting professionals to make a difference

A number of actions are laid out under each priority. Almost all the actions are relevant to the homelessness strategy, a few of the key ones include:

  • A ‘tell us once’ referral pathway and a safeguarding information sharing agreement
  • Understanding the uniqueness and potential complexities of LGBTQ+ communities,
  • male victims, minority ethnic groups and other minoritized communities
  • Ensure a wide range of safe accommodation options are available to victims,
  • survivors and their children. This may include refuges, sanctuary schemes and
  • specialist accommodation as required
  • Conduct a comprehensive needs analysis of housing
  • Ensure victims of DVA are treated as high priority need for housing