Dundee City Council pledges to help victims of domestic violence

Back: Alan Ross, Ann Rendall and David Simpson, with, front left, Elaine Zwirlein, and Ann Hamilton
Back: Alan Ross, Ann Rendall and David Simpson, with, front left, Elaine Zwirlein, and Ann Hamilton

Perpetrators of domestic violence will be targeted by the council as part of a new pledge against abuse in the city.

The local authority has signed up to the Make a Stand pledge which is designed to encourage housing organisations to support people experiencing domestic abuse.

As part of the commitment, domestic abuse support services will be made more accessible online and a letting policy will be put in place to support those suffering violence in their home.

Speaking to the Tele about how the pledge will be different from similar initiatives, Ann Hamilton, independent chairwoman of the Dundee Violence Against Women Partnership, said enforcing action on housing policy would play a major factor in the safety of women.

She said: “The fact that women are not safe in their own homes is a major problem and can be the cause of homelessness. Women can be tied to an abuser because they don’t have options so it’s important to make sure housing solutions are available.

“What we’ve tended to do in the past is look at the victim and maybe her children but the perpetrator has been missing and yet he’s still a father and maybe a husband.

“The approach in Dundee is not just about saying to the women ‘you need to keep yourself and the kids safe’ – but saying to the man you have made your children or partner unsafe and you need to change that.”

Elaine Zwirlein, executive director of neighbourhood services, will oversee the council’s new approach to tackling domestic violence.

Elaine said: “The Make a Stand agreement will get housing organisations to sign up to four pledges which include providing housing and support for victims of domestic abuse and making sure our own council staff are supported.

“This will send messages to men and boys about attitudes to women because I think we have to challenge some of these.”

The pledge has been developed by the Chartered Institute of Housing in partnership with Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance, after being approved by the community safety and public protection committee last week.

David Simpson, head of housing and communities at the council, said: “The allocation policy is about giving priority to people who are in houses of domestic abuse but we need to check that’s actually working in practice and leading to people getting into secure accommodation.”