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Domestic Abuse policy - Staff and Members

Introduction to the Domestic Abuse Policy for Staff and Members

Great Yarmouth Borough Council recognises that its employees will be amongst those affected by domestic abuse; for example, as a survivor of domestic abuse, an individual who is currently living with domestic abuse, someone who has been impacted upon by domestic abuse or as an individual who perpetrates domestic abuse.

Organisational values and principles related to a Domestic Abuse response

We are committed to developing a workplace culture in which there is zero tolerance for abuse, and which recognises that the responsibility for domestic abuse lies with the perpetrator.  The Council has a 'zero tolerance' position on domestic abuse and is committed to ensuring that any employee who is the victim of domestic abuse has the right to raise the issue with their employer in the knowledge that they will receive appropriate support and assistance.  This policy also covers the approach we will take where there are concerns that an employee may be the perpetrator of domestic abuse. The organisational values and principles we follow in respect of cases of domestic abuse are:

  • integrity
  • collaboration
  • empathy
  • empowerment
  • respect
  • accountability
  • non-judgement and belief
  • being person centred
  • amplifying victim/survivor voice
  • victim/survivor safety 
  • working towards a Co-ordinated Community Response (CCR)

By developing an effective domestic abuse policy and working to reduce the risks related to domestic abuse, we will create a safer workplace and we will also send out a strong message that domestic abuse is unacceptable.

The Council recognises that domestic abuse is an equalities issue and undertakes to not discriminate against anyone who has been subjected to domestic abuse in terms of current employment or future development.

This policy is part of the Council's commitment to wellbeing and seeks to benefit the welfare of individual members of staff; retain valued employees; improve morale and performance; and enhance the reputation of the Council as an employer of choice. 

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1992), the Council recognises its legal responsibilities in promoting the welfare and safety of all staff.  Therefore, this policy applies to staff across all sites as well as agency and contract staff (and elected members). 

We will safely and confidentially record information about the support which has been offered to employees and referrals, for example to Occupational Health (with employee consent) on their personal file, which is held by HR.

Employee Assistance Programme - provided by Norfolk Support Line

Employees have free confidential access to telephone support 24/7, 365 days a year to the Norfolk Support Line, including face to face and virtual counselling, self-help workbooks and podcasts and blogs. They provide a range of information and signposting for practical support for problems at work and at home. To access the service call 0800 169 7676, or go to the Norfolk Support Line website.

Meaning of 'Domestic Abuse'

Domestic abuse is: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or 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. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse: 

  • psychological 
  • physical 
  • sexual 
  • financial  
  • emotional 

 Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. 

Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim." This definition includes so called 'honour' based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group. 

Statutory Definitions:

The Statutory Definition of Domestic Abuse as Defined by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021:

Behaviour of a person ("A") towards another person ("B") is domestic abuse if:

  1. A and B are each aged 16 or over and are personally connected to each other, and 
  2. the behaviour is abusive
  3. Behaviour is "abusive" if it consists of any of the following:
    1. physical or sexual abuse
    2. violent or threatening behaviour
    3. controlling or coercive behaviour
    4. economic abuse (see subsection (4))
    5. psychological, emotional, or other abuse
    and it does not matter whether the behaviour consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.
  4. "Economic abuse" means any behaviour that has a substantial adverse effect on B's ability to:
    1. acquire, use or maintain money or other property, or
    2. obtain goods or services
  5. For the purposes of this Act A's behaviour may be behaviour "towards" B despite the fact that it consists of conduct directed at another person (for example, B's child).
  6. References in this Act to being abusive towards another person are to be read in accordance with this section.
  7. For the meaning of "personally connected": 

Section 2: Definition of 'Personally Connected'

  1. Two people are 'personally connected' to each other if any of the following applies: 
    1. they are, or have been, married to each other
    2. they are, or have been, civil partners of each other 
    3. they have agreed to marry one another (whether or not the agreement has been terminated) 
    4. they have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not the agreement has been terminated) 
    5. they are, or have been, in an intimate personal relationship with each other 
    6. they each have, or there has been a time when they each have had, a parental relationship in relation to the same child (see subsection (2))
    7. they are relatives. 
  2. For the purposes of subsection (1) (f) a person has a parental relationship in relation to a child if: 
    1. the person is a parent of the child, or 
    2. the person has parental responsibility for the child.
  3. In this section:
    • 'child' means a person under the age of 18 years.
    • 'civil partnership agreement' has the meaning given by section 73 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 
    • 'parental responsibility' has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989 
    • relative' has the meaning given by section 63 (1) of the Family Law Act 1996. 

Section 3: Children as Victims of Domestic Abuse 

  1. This section applies where behaviour of a person ('A') towards another person ('B') is domestic abuse.
  2. Any reference in this Act to a victim of domestic abuse includes a reference to a child who: 
    1.  sees or hears, or experiences the effect of, the abuse, and 
    2. is related to A or B.
  3. A child is related to a person for the purposes of subsection (2) if: 
    1. the person is a parent of, or has parental responsibility for, the child, or 
    2. the child and the person are relatives 
  4. In this section: 
    • 'child' means person under the age of 18 years
    •  'parental responsibility' has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989 (see section 3 of that Act) 
    •  'relative' has the meaning given by section 63 (1) of the Family Law Act 1996

Identification of the Problem

Whilst it is for the individual themselves to recognise they are a victim of domestic abuse, there are signs which may indicate an employee may be a victim.  These may include: 

  • the member of staff may confide in their colleagues/manager.
  • staff may inform their manager that a colleague is suffering from domestic abuse
  • there may be obvious effects of physical abuse (it is important not to make assumptions)
  • it may come to light as a result of enquiries into a drop in performance or a significant change in behaviour
  • it may reveal itself as the background to poor attendance. 

It is essential to understand that any of the above may arise from a range of circumstances of which domestic abuse may be one.  Managers/ Supervisors who support staff in such matters should address the issue positively and sympathetically ensuring that the employee is aware that support and assistance can be provided. 

The Council respects employees' right to privacy.  Whilst the Council strongly encourages victims of domestic abuse to disclose domestic abuse for the safety of themselves and all those in the workplace, it does not force them to share this information if they do not want to. 

Confidentiality and Right to Privacy

Employees who disclose experiencing abuse can be assured that the information they provide is confidential and will not ordinarily be shared with other members of staff without their permission.

There are, however, some circumstances in which confidentiality cannot be assured.  These occur when there are safeguarding concerns about children or vulnerable adults or where the employer needs to act to protect the safety of employees.

In circumstances where the Council has to breach confidentiality it will seek specialist advice before doing so.  If it decides to proceed in breaching confidentiality after having taken advice, it will discuss with the employee why it is doing so and it will seek the employee's agreement where possible.

As far as possible, information will only be shared on a need-to-know basis.

All records concerning domestic abuse will be kept strictly confidential.  Confidential records of absences related to domestic abuse may be kept but there will be no adverse impact on the employment records of victims of domestic abuse.

Improper disclosure of information, i.e. breaches of confidentiality by any member of staff will be taken seriously and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Support for Individuals

The Council recognises that developing a life free from abuse is a process not an event and the Council will provide ongoing support for employees who disclose abuse. 

The Council and Union/Professional organisation representatives will work together cooperatively to help staff experiencing domestic abuse. 

The Council will respond sympathetically, confidentially and effectively to any member of staff who discloses that they are experiencing domestic abuse. 

Where domestic abuse has been reported line managers will treat unplanned absences and temporary poor timekeeping sympathetically. 

Line managers may offer employees experiencing domestic abuse a broad range of support.  This may include, but is not limited to: 

  • special paid leave for relevant appointments, including with support agencies, solicitors, to rearrange housing or childcare, and for court appointments
  • temporary or permanent changes to working times and patterns
  • changes to specific duties, for example to avoid potential contact with an abuser in a customer facing role
  • redeployment or relocation
  • measures to ensure a safe working environment, for example changing a telephone number to avoid harassing phone calls
  • using other existing policies, including flexible working
  • access to counselling/support services in paid time
  • access to courses developed to support female survivors of domestic abuse, for example The Freedom Programme or assertiveness training

Line managers will respect the right of staff to make their own decision on the course of action at every stage.

Other existing provisions (including occupational health, independent counselling service, others) will also be signposted to staff as a means of support 

Organisational planning

All employees will be made aware of this policy through a range of methods including induction, training, information on Great Yarmouth Borough Councils intranet, corporate communications and posters.

The Council will remind staff of the importance of not divulging personal details of other employees, such as addresses, telephone numbers or shift patterns.

This is paramount when dealing with Honour Based Abuse cases.

Disclosure of Abuse

Staff experiencing domestic abuse may choose to disclose, report to or seek support from a union representative, a line manager, or colleague.  Line managers and union representatives will not counsel victims, but offer information, workplace support, and signpost to other organisations.

The Council will respond sympathetically, confidentially and effectively to any member of staff who discloses that they are suffering from domestic abuse. A member of Human Resources trained in domestic abuse issues, will be nominated as an additional confidential contact for staff.  This person will also provide guidance for line managers and union representatives who are approached by staff who are being abused.

Training

The Council is committed to ensuring all line managers are aware of domestic abuse and its implications in the workplace.  A blend of information, e-learning, briefings or awareness raising sessions will ensure that all managers are able to: 

  • identify if an employee is experiencing difficulties because of domestic abuse
  • respond to disclosure in a sensitive and non-judgemental manner
  • provide initial support - be clear about available workplace support
  • discuss how the organisation can contribute to safety planning
  • signpost to other organisations and sources of support
  • understand that they are not counsellors

Great Yarmouth Borough Council supports its staff and members to become volunteer Domestic Abuse Champions as part of their substantive role. In doing so Domestic Abuse Champions receive training from specialist support agencies and support from the corporate Designated Safeguarding Officer group.

The Role of the Domestic Abuse Champion

  • attend the initial training course and any further networking events and refresher training
  • keep up to date on the different referral pathways and services within your local area
  • ensure your colleagues know how to contact you for guidance
  • ensure where possible up to date information is displayed in your work areas
  • promotes timely and effective information sharing
  • promotes the ethos of early disclosure and effective response
  • promotes awareness and understanding of the impact of domestic abuse
  • advocates for effective support within their agency for staff, volunteers and service users
  • be aware of the impact of the role and responsibilities on your current job role.

Safety Planning

The Council will prioritise the safety of employees if they make it known that they are experiencing domestic abuse.

When an employee discloses domestic abuse, the Council will encourage its employees to contact a specialist support agency (or suitably trained specialist member of staff) who can undertake a Domestic Abuse Stalking and Harassment (DASH) risk assessment and make appropriate referrals where necessary.

The Council will work with the employee and a specialist agency (with the employee's consent) to identify what actions can be taken to increase their personal safety at work and at home as well as address any risks there may be to colleagues.

If the Victim and the Perpetrator work in the same organisation

In cases where both the victim and the perpetrator of domestic abuse work in the organisation, the Council will take appropriate action.

In addition to considering disciplinary action against the employee who is perpetrating the abuse, action may need to be taken to ensure that the victim and perpetrator do not come into contact in the workplace.

Action may also need to be taken to minimise the potential for the perpetrator to use their position or work resources to find out details about the whereabouts of the victim.  This may include a change of duties for one or both employees or withdrawing the perpetrators access to certain computer programmes or offices.

The Council encourages all employees to report if they suspect a colleague is experiencing or perpetrating abuse.  Employees should speak to their line manager about their concerns in confidence.  In dealing with a disclosure from a colleague, employers should ensure that the person with concerns is made aware of the existence of this policy. 

Perpetrators of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse perpetrated by employees will not be condoned under any circumstances nor will it be treated as a purely private matter.  The Council recognises that it has a role in encouraging and supporting employees to address violent and abusive behaviour of all kinds. Employees should report if they suspect a colleague is a perpetrator of abuse.

If an employee approaches the Council about their abusive behaviour, the Council will provide information about the services and support available to them.

The Council will treat any allegation, disclosure or conviction of a domestic abuse related offence on a case-by-case basis with the aim of reducing risk and supporting change.

The Council views the use of violence and abusive behaviour by an employee, wherever this occurs, as a breach of the Council's Code of Conduct for disciplinary purposes.

The Council's Code of Conduct is intended to inform all staff, irrespective of grade, of the standards of conduct expected of them.  It identifies a set of principles governing behaviour by which staff members are expected to abide.  Staff members are expected at all times to present high standards of personal integrity and conduct that will not reflect adversely on the Council and its reputation.

In some circumstances it may be deemed inappropriate for the individual to continue in his/her current role(s), due to a caution or conviction.  The Council views the use of violence and abusive behaviour by an employee, wherever this occurs, as a breach of the organisation's Code of Conduct for disciplinary purposes.

These procedures can be applicable in cases where an employee has: 

  • behaved in a way that has harmed or threatened his/her partner
  • possibly committed a criminal offence against his/her partner.
  • had an allegation of domestic abuse made against him/her
  • presented concerns about their behaviour within an intimate relationship

The Council is committed to ensuring that:

  • allegations will be dealt with fairly and in a way that provides support for the person who is the subject of the allegation or disclosure
  • all employees will receive guidance and support
  • confidentiality will be maintained and information restricted only to those who have a need-to-know.
  • investigations will be thorough and independent
  • all cases will be dealt with quickly avoiding unnecessary delays
  • all efforts will be made to resolve the matter within 4-6 weeks, although some cases will take longer because of their nature or complexity

NOTE: This procedure is intended to be safety focussed and supportive rather than punitive.

The alleged perpetrator will be: 

  • treated fairly and honestly
  • helped to understand the concerns expressed and processes involved
  • kept informed of the progress and outcome of any investigation and the implications for any disciplinary process
  • advised to contact their union or professional organisation

There are five potential strands in the consideration of an allegation:

  1. a police investigation of a possible criminal offence
  2. disciplinary action by the employer
  3. providing specialist, safety-focused counselling
  4. identifying risk. 
  5. referral to Local Authority regarding risk to general public/vulnerable people. 

Any employee who is responsible for giving advice, or who comes into contact with or supports those vulnerable people or children experiencing domestic abuse needs to be particularly aware of the potential consequences if they are found to be perpetrators.

If a colleague is found to be assisting an abuser in perpetrating the abuse, for example, by giving them access to facilities such as telephones, email or fax machines then they will be seen as having committed a disciplinary offence.

If it becomes evident that an employee has made a malicious allegation that another employee is perpetrating abuse then this will be treated as a serious disciplinary offence and action will be taken. 

Professional Role and Risk Management

All organisations should have clear policies in line with those from the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board for dealing with allegations against people who work with children.

An allegation may relate to a person who works with children who has behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child:

  • possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
  • behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children

The Council's safeguarding Lead, Executive Director - People, acts as the Local Authority Designated Officers (LADO) and will be involved in the management and oversight of individual cases.  The role of the LADO provides advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations, liaising with the police and other agencies and monitoring the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process.

The Norfolk County Council LADO should also be informed within one working day of all allegations that come to an employer's attention or that are made directly to the police.  The Norfolk CC LADO team can be contacted on 01603 223473.

In relation to vulnerable adults all referrals must be directed to the Safeguarding Coordinator or MASH Team Manager in Norfolk CC Adult Social Care.

Other policies

The following policies contain additional information and guidance:

Administration of this policy

HR is responsible for the administration of this policy. Should you have any feedback, please contact hr@great-yarmouth.gov.uk.

This policy will be reviewed in line with organisational procedures unless there are changes in related legislation, best practice or other organisation policies impact on its effectiveness. Reviews of this Policy will also be informed by feedback including from staff, Domestic Homicide Reviews and Serious Case Reviews.

Document version
AuthorHR
Version number2
Updated by HR
Date of updateNovember 2023
Description of changes to this versionUpdated in line with Norfolk County Council's model Domestic Abuse policy
Document statusDraft
Next review dateDecember 2026

 

Data protection

The Council processes any personal data collected during the capability (performance) procedure in accordance with its Data protection policy. Any data collected is held securely and accessed by, and disclosed to, individuals only for the purposes of completing the capability (performance) procedure. Inappropriate access or disclosure of employee data constitutes a data breach and should be reported in accordance with the Council's data protection policy immediately. It may also constitute a disciplinary offence, which will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure.

Further guidance

Anyone using this policy to respond to a victim or perpetrator of domestic abuse should refer to further current information provided by:

Appendix 1: contact information for Police, Domestic Abuse Helplines, Childrens Services and Hospitals

Police
Police emergency contact number999
Police non-emergency contact number101
Websitewww.norfolk.police.uk (opens new window)
Domestic Abuse helplines
OrganisationContact number
Leeway Domestic Violence Helpline (local)
http://www.leewaysupport.org
0300 5610077
National 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline
http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
0808 2000247

Childline
http://www.childline.org.uk

0800 1111

Mens Advice Line (for male victims)
www.mensadviceline.org.uk

0808 8010327
National Domestic Violence Helpline (Women's Aid)
http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk
0808 2000247
National Victim Support
http://www.victimsupport.org.uk
0808 1689111
National Centre for Domestic Violence
http://www.ncdv.org.uk
0800 9702070
For Help TEXT "NCDV"60777
Samaritans116 123
Shelterline0344 515 1860
Crime Stoppers0800 555111
National Drugs Helpline0800 5404120
National Help Line for LGBT0800 9995428
Debtline0808 8084000
NHS Direct111
Paladin National Stalking Helpline0203 866 4107
Honour Abuse helplines
OrganisationContact number
Karma Nirvana0800 5999247
Aanchal (Asian Languages spoken)08454 512 547
Southall Black Sister0208 5710800
Ashiana Network (Turkish and South Asian)0208 5390427
Ikrow (Iranian, Kurdish women's rights organisation)0207 9206460
Children's services
OrganisationContact number
Norfolk County Council (Main Switch Board For any Safeguarding concerns)0344 8008020

 

Hospitals
OrganisationContact number
Queen Elizabeth Kings Lynn01553 613613
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital01603 286286
James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston01493 452452
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk01284 713000

 

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