The People Scrutiny Committee is asked to consider the recommissioning approach set out in the report and recommend the approach to Cabinet for approval.
The committee received a report that set out the issues around the recommissioning approach for Domestic Violence and Abuse Services In Dorset.
Councillors considered the issues arising from the report and during discussion the following points were made:
· A comment was made that the committee may need additional information in order to fully consider the issues in this area including an explanation of acronyms, a copy of the previous contract and information around the increasing numbers of people presenting to the service
· In order to provide an integrated service in a rural area, a comment was made that there was a need to look at more than just pattern changing services but also include a focus on issues around children in this area including whether the contract could provide for a children’s worker and the issue of stalking. The role of and funding provided by external organisations was recognised and it was felt, should be part of the contract. Although the report suggested a like for like service, it was felt that more was required in order to provide support to all that required it
· The Domestic Violence and Abuse service was a demand led service and it had been noted where the highest incidences were. However there was a need to ensure that there was service coverage for the whole area
· A point was raised with regard to spaces available in refuges and it was noted that a provider would be expected to find refuge accommodation elsewhere if there was none available locally. People may also be moved out of the area due to safety issues
· In respect of the impact on children in this area, close working was undertaken with Children’s Services. A point was raised that children in these situations were not always identified and that this should be a priority in the new contract
· A discussion was held with regard to the availability of refuge accommodation
· It was important to have a whole system approach in this area, working alongside non statutory agencies who provided support
· Through the procurement process, there was a need to ensure that providers understood the direction of travel and the current issues
· It was noted that the approach set out in the report allowed the council to provide a service. However, there needed to be work undertaken to look at how all partners, including the council, health, police and voluntary organisations, came together and developed the support available. It was recognised that this would take some time to develop
· A question was raised with regard to pilot projects to be undertaken and information was provided on some projects being undertaken
· There was a need to do more work on the referral process and to evidence the success of interventions and measure outcomes beyond crisis intervention
· A provider engagement event had been held and those attending had been happy with the approach, which allowed further work to develop good practice. It was noted that there were already good examples of innovation in Dorset
· Consideration was given to the figures for occurrences of domestic violence amongst different age ranges and those that were accessing the service. One explanation was that there may be greater awareness amongst younger people. Work was undertaken with the service provider to raise awareness of support that was available and this had been added to the equality impact assessment to ensure that the service was inclusive
· The importance of early intervention for young families was recognised
· The Portfolio Holder for Housing thanked the committee for their comments and would discuss these with officers following the meeting.
Councillor Rennie noted that the same level of funding was being made available for this contract as for the previous contract, but noted that the council was seeking a greater level of innovation and exploration of issues. Because of the impact this service could have on peoples lives, she proposed that Cabinet should look at ways to increase funding in the area moving forward into 2020/21.
In response, the Portfolio Holder for Housing noted that the contract should be kept under a watching brief as to whether funding levels were adequate or whether there would be a need for additional funding. He also indicated that an Executive Advisory Panel could be set up to look at issues in this area and allow the opportunity for councillors to feed into this work. It was noted that further discussion would be needed to agree the best way forward for looking at these issues.
Councillor Rennie withdrew her proposal.
The Chairman suggested that in addition to the recommendation set out in the report, additional wording could be included within the recommendation to Cabinet to set out that if based on evidence from officers on the work carried out, with particular regard to the short term and pilot project, it is felt that there could be a benefit from the input of additional resources, this should be considered by Cabinet. It was also suggested that a further report should be provided to the committee in 12 months-time to provide an update.
It was proposed by Councillor Coombs seconded by Councillor Rennie
Recommendation to Cabinet
That the Recommissioning approach for Domestic Violence and Abuse Services in Dorset be approved.
That, if based on evidence from officers on the work that is carried out, with particular regard to the short term and pilot project, it is felt that there could be a benefit from the input of additional resources, this should be considered by Cabinet.
That a further report is provided to the People Scrutiny Committee in 12 months-time.