Kent & Medway
domestic abuse
Strategy Group
Sample Domestic Abuse Policy and Procedures
Issued October 2014
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Domestic Abuse Policies and Procedures
Many agencies in both the statutory and voluntary sectors have now developed specific domestic
abuse policies and good practice guidelines. Such guidelines are important to inform and
standardise good practice and need to be directly based on the principle of improving the safety of
those who are experience abuse.
Policies and guidelines developed by individual agencies need to feed into the wider strategy. The
Kent and Medway Domestic Abuse Strategy and Delivery Plan can be found on the Domestic
Abuse website: http://www.domesticabuseservices.org.uk/professionals/kmdasg/
Policies and guidelines need to apply to different user groups, e.g. vulnerable adults, violent
perpetrators, and children and families (including sensitive, non-punitive guidelines which
differentiate policies for children in need and domestic violence policies on child protection).
Issues covered may include staff safety procedures, information for service users and detailed
practical guidelines for front line workers.
Policies remain empty rhetoric unless appropriate training and supervision are provided to
integrate the policy into agency practice.
Why have a Domestic Abuse Policy?
A detailed policy is designed to demonstrate how an organisation will assist employees in dealing
with the effects of domestic abuse.
Before designing a domestic abuse policy specific to your organisation, determine if you want to
write a separate policy on domestic abuse, or if it will be integrated into your existing policy on
safeguarding.
What should a Domestic Abuse Policy Include?
1. Definition of Domestic Abuse – use the agreed Government definition as this is recognised by
the vast majority of voluntary and statutory agencies and allows agencies to use a common
language when dealing with domestic abuse.
2. Domestic Abuse and the workplace – how does the organisation view domestic abuse
experienced or perpetrated by staff, e.g. will there be consequences for actions outside of work
within the workplace for perpetrators of domestic abuse.
3. Confidentiality – the need to ensure the safety of those experiencing domestic abuse & the
need to keep information confidential, within the limits of organisations safeguarding
responsibilities
4. Options for employees experiencing domestic abuse– what can the organisation offer in
terms of practical support to those who disclose to them that they are experiencing abuse.
5. Training – outline the training that will be available to support managers and staff in dealing with
domestic abuse and/or supporting service users who are experiencing domestic abuse
6. Raising awareness in the workplace – outline the measures the organisation will take to
increase awareness of domestic abuse, its effects and the support available.
A draft domestic abuse policy that organisations may find useful to help write their own policy has
been included in Appendix A.
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APPENDIX A
Draft Domestic Abuse Policy
The draft policy is a domestic abuse policy template. It is designed to demonstrate how an
organisation will assist employees in dealing with the effects of domestic abuse and to offer
guidance in developing your organisation’s own policy.
Introduction
[Organisation name] is committed to heightening awareness of domestic abuse and providing
guidance for employees and management to address the occurrence of domestic abuse and its
effects on the workplace.
[Organisation name] intends to make assistance available to employees affected by domestic
abuse. This assistance may include: confidential means for coming forward for help; resource and
referral information; special considerations at the workplace for employee safety; work schedule
adjustments or leave necessary to obtain medical, counselling or legal assistance; and workplace
relocation (if available). In responding to domestic abuse, [organisation name] will maintain
appropriate confidentiality and respect for the rights of the employee involved.
Definition
For purposes of this policy, domestic abuse is defined as:
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, which is not a legal 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.
It is also important to remember that most research also suggests that domestic abuse occurs in all
sections of society irrespective of gender, race, culture, nationality, religion, sexuality, disability,
age, class or educational level.
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Policy
1. Domestic abuse and the workplace
It is important to promote the understanding that everyone has the right to a life free from abuse in
any form. Domestic abuse is wholly unacceptable and inexcusable behaviour, and responsibility
for domestic abuse lies with the perpetrator. [Organisation name] strives to create a working
environment that promotes the view that abuse against people is unacceptable and that such
abuse will not be condoned or made the subject of jokes. Under the company disciplinary
procedure, acts of harassment or bullying of fellow employees, clients, customers, suppliers or
members of the public visiting the organisation, violent, threatening or abusive behaviour is
considered to be gross misconduct and can lead to dismissal from the company. Employees
should also be aware that conduct outside of work could lead to disciplinary action being taken
because of its impact on the employment relationship.
2. Confidentiality
[Organisation name] respects an employee’s right to confidentiality. We recognises that employees
experiencing domestic abuse normally have the right to complete confidentiality. However, in
circumstances of child protection or the protection of vulnerable adults from abuse, the child
protection and adult protection services may need to be involved. Complete confidentiality cannot
be guaranteed in these situations.
3. Right to privacy
[Organisation name] respects an employee’s right to privacy in the event they do not wish to inform
the company that they have experienced domestic abuse.
4. Anti-discrimination
[Organisation name] will not discriminate against anyone who has been subjected to domestic
abuse, in terms of his or her existing employment or career development.
[Organisation name] is aware that domestic abuse victims may have performance problems such
as chronic absenteeism or lower productivity as a result of domestic abuse. When addressing
performance and safety issues, we will make reasonable efforts to consider all aspects of the
employee’s situation and / or safety issues.
5. Absence options for employees experiencing domestic abuse
[Organisation name] will make every effort to assist an employee experiencing domestic abuse. If
an employee needs to be absent from work due to domestic abuse, the length of the absence will
be determined by the individual's situation through collaboration with the employee and (fill in
appropriate title(s) for your company: supervisor/manager, Human Resources representative,
union representative, etc.)
Employees, managers, and supervisors (or appropriate titles) are encouraged to first explore paid
leave options that can be arranged to help the employee cope with the situation without having to
take a formal unpaid leave of absence. Depending on circumstances, these options may include:


arranging flexible work hours so the employee can seek protection, go to court, look for new
housing, enter counseling, arrange child care, etc.
considering use of sick time, job sharing, compensatory time, paid leave, informal unpaid leave,
etc., particularly if requests are for relatively short periods.
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6. Safety at work
[Organisation name] undertakes to ensure the safety of its employees. We will actively provide
support to employees to minimise the risk to their safety while at work, if they make it known to the
trust that they are experiencing domestic abuse.
This support may include: list of examples from section 5 ………. work schedule adjustments,
workplace relocation (if available).
7. Visible resources for those affected by domestic abuse
[Organisation name] intends to publish, maintain and post in locations of high visibility, a list of
resources for survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse.
8. Providing support for employees
[Organisation name] intends to make support available to employees involved in domestic abuse.
The organisation will provide support through our managers, HR, occupational health (fill in
appropriate titles) supervisor/manager, human resources representative, union representative,
company counsellor etc.
This person’s role is to:







be available and approachable to employees experiencing domestic abuse
listen, reassure and support individuals
keep information confidential (subject to the requirements of child and adult protection)
respond in a sensitive and non-judgemental manner
discuss the specific steps that can be taken to help this person stay safe in the workplace
ensure the employee is aware of the options available to them
encourage the employee to seek the advice of other relevant agencies.
[Organisation name] recognises that perpetrators of domestic abuse may wish to seek help and
support voluntarily. They will have access, when appropriate, to help and support in accordance
with that laid out in this policy.
9. Training managers to identify and respond appropriately
[Organisation name] will develop a programme of training for all (managers / HR Insert correct
titles) to raise awareness of domestic abuse and understanding of this policy and guidance.
Managers will be trained to:





identify if an employee is experiencing difficulties
provide initial support
offer referrals
discuss ways to help the person stay safe in the workplace
understand that they are not counsellors. Counselling is to be left to trained professionals and
no one should attempt to act in place of a domestic abuse expert or counsellor. The best thing
a manager can do is to refer the person to the appropriate domestic abuse resources.
10. Raising awareness in the workplace
[Name of organisation] will raise awareness of domestic abuse through the following measures:

publishing, maintaining and posting in locations of high visibility a list of external resources for
survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse;
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


publishing, maintaining and posting in locations of high visibility a list of internal resources for
survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse (e.g. HR, occupational health, counsellors);
publicising a statement from (insert as appropriate senior manager, chief executive officer,
directors) communicating the organisation’s position on domestic abuse to all employees;
publicising and distributing information on the organisation’s policy.
Supporting documents
To support this policy, a guide for staff and managers will be developed to provide practical help on
addressing domestic abuse in the workplace.
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Domestic Abuse Operational Procedures
Aim
To detail the approach your agency will take to support service users experiencing domestic
abuse.
Agency Procedures – Tackling Domestic Abuse
When designing your services you should consider how easy you can make it for staff and service
users to discuss domestic abuse and find the appropriate information and support they require.
The following sections may assist agencies when designing their own operational
procedures tailored to the services they offer and the needs of their service users.
FIRST IMPRESSSIONS
Promoting what services offer
Make key information visible and easily understandable. Make it clear what choices/options are
available.
1. Initial communication/correspondence to be welcoming, informative and clear.
2. Information needs to be regularly updated (leaflets, noticeboards, websites).
First contact
First experience of contact can be crucial for engagement with services. Need to be welcoming
and non-judgemental.
1.
2.
3.
4.
Are receptions/waiting rooms welcoming, informative and positive.
Have reception staff received training on customer service.
Consider ‘mystery shopper’ experience of your service.
Are options explained clearly at first contact – is enough time allocated to do this.
Inviting environments that don’t stigmatise users
Well maintained services in attractive surroundings convey positive messages to service users
about being valued. With planning the negative impact of any necessary security
arrangements/signs can be minimised.
1. Are public spaces welcoming.
2. Consider what types of information/posters/leaflets are needed in reception areas and
consider style, content, accessibility.
3. Organise information into clear, well-themed displays.
4. Have appropriate area to conduct private/confidential discussions.
5. Consider provision of refreshments and have well-maintain bathroom facilities.
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ENCOURAGING REMINDERS AND CUES
Sending reminders that are more personal, motivational and encouraging have been shown to
produce better results that just providing information.
1. Do you make the most of texts, phone calls, emails & letters. Can be used to remind,
reinforce messages, and check on progress, to demonstrate care and interest.
2. Agree follow up plan for post contact drop out with service users.
3. Are contact numbers kept up to date, including mobile numbers.
WAITING TIMES AND RAPID ACCESS TO SERVICES
Providing early and follow up appointments can encourage service user engagement.
1. Do you monitor waiting times and keep these to a minimum.
2. Can next day appointments be offered if needed.
MAKING SERVICES ACCESSIBLE
Addressing common barriers can have a positive impact on engagement rates.
Transport
Providing transport can help engage those who find getting to and from service difficult (rural areas
and/or where service covers a large geographical area).
1. Can fares be reimbursed.
2. Can transport be provided directly.
3. Consider use of drop in services to some areas.
Flexible access
Flexible opening times and attendance requirements can help engage service users.
1. How do you meet the needs of those working full-time or those with childcare/caring
responsibilities.
EQUALITY & DIVERSITY
Consider core communication needs and the best way to address cultural needs.
1. Do you have access to interpreters.
2. Is there a local/national service available to support a specific community/cultural group.
REACHING OUT TO SERVICE USERS
Many services already operate outreach services, drop ins or use community venues to deliver
their services.
1. Do you include information on domestic abuse within your own assessment processes.
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2. Are you involved in the provision of services at the local domestic abuse one stop shop.
A draft domestic abuse operational procedure that organisations may find useful to help write their
own procedures has been included in Appendix B.
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Appendix B - Draft Operational Procedure
1.
INTRODUCTION
1.1
This document sets out the procedures that [add organisation name) will follow when
dealing with cases of domestic abuse involving its service users and people who approach
[organisation name] for advice, assistance (or other services - add as appropriate).
1.2
Set out context of this procedure within in other organisational responsibilities, policies
and/or priorities.
2.
DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC ABUSE
2.1
Domestic abuse is defined as:
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.
2.2
This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
•
psychological
•
physical
•
sexual
•
financial
•
emotional
2.3
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.
2.4
This definition, which is not a legal 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.
2.5
It is also important to remember that most research also suggests that domestic abuse
occurs in all sections of society irrespective of gender, race, culture, nationality, religion,
sexuality, disability, age, class or educational level.
3.
SERVICE STANDARDS
3.1
If someone experiencing domestic abuse approaches [organisation name] they can expect
the following response from us (add others or remove as appropriate to services on offer):
•
•
•
We will take all reports of domestic abuse seriously.
We will provide a sensitive, sympathetic, consistent and prompt response.
We will establish the safest way to communicate with the person affected by domestic
abuse and note this on their file.
We will offer the opportunity to speak to a member of staff who is of the same gender.
We will conduct interviews in private and in a safe place.
We will obtain consent to make referrals to other organisations for support and advice if
required.
We will ensure that any information given will remain confidential and will only be given to
other organisations (e.g. the Police and Social Services) if the service user gives their
written consent or a child or adult is at risk of harm.
•
•
•
•
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•
•
•
•
We will signpost to other organisations that can provide support and assistance.
We will offer a flexible range of services to assist people to live safely, securely and free of
abuse.
We will keep up-to-date records and make appropriate decisions.
We will keep service users informed about what is happening and any decisions taken.
4.
PROCEDURE
4.1
Identifying domestic abuse
4.1.1
Domestic abuse can present itself in many different forms:
Physical violence - Punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out,
pushing, shoving, burning, strangling
Sexual violence - Using force, threats or intimidation to make the victim perform sexual
acts, having sex with the victim when they don't want to have sex, any degrading treatment
based on the victims sexual orientation
Psychological abuse - Destructive criticism, harassment, stalking, being controlling, verbal
abuse, pressure tactics, disrespect, breaking trust, isolation, making threats, denial that the
abuse is happening
Financial abuse - Withholding money, controlling money, not allowing the victim to earn
their own money, denying access to financial information
4.1.2
Add in where/how you will make information on domestic abuse available to your service
users e.g. websites, posters, leaflets, newsletters.
4.2
How to respond to domestic abuse
4.2.1
Upon disclosure from a service user:
This section should detail the options/steps the organisation will take. This may include:
- who is the most appropriate staff member to speak to the service user
- where an interview/consultation should take place
- where/how information should be recorded
- instructions on any flagging systems for paper or IT files
- expectations to conduct safety planning and risk assessment (if appropriate to the
organisation)
- signposting/referrals to other specialist services.
4.2.2
If worried about a service user but there has been no disclosure:
There may be occasions when disclosure is not given but there are signs that domestic
abuse may be happening. If a member of staff has reason to believe that a service user is
the victim of domestic abuse but disclosure has not been given by them; then it is important
not to ignore these concerns.
This section should detail the options/steps the organisation should take. This may include:
- where/how information should be recorded
- provision of information on local domestic abuse services (possibly as a standard part of
the service
- ensuring that information on domestic abuse and how to access local services is readily
available in public areas of buildings.
4.2.3
If a member of staff is worried about a vulnerable adult or child and has reasonable cause
to believe that they are at risk of significant harm then consideration should be given to
referring those concerns to Social Services or the Police in line with [organisation name]
safeguarding procedures.
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4.2.4
Add in contact details for the organisation’s lead professional on DA for staff consultations.
4.2.5
Add in contact details for a range of local DA services (see the DA website for more details
– www.domesticabuseservices.org.uk).
4.3
Action planning
4.3.1
Add in all the relevant services or support that your organisation can directly offer to those
affected by domestic abuse. Detail what can be offered, by whom, to whom, for how long,
any eligibility criteria etc.
4.4
Safeguarding responsibilities
4.4.1
[Organisation name] has a Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy in place which
recognises that we have a responsibility to be proactive, and to refer suspected cases of
abuse to Kent or Medway Social Services or to Kent Police. (The Policy can be found in –
add location). If there are children present in the household, staff should refer to this Policy
and to the Kent and Medway Child Protection Policy to make a decision on the level of
intervention (if any) that may be required (e.g. Common Assessment Framework, Child in
Need or Child Protection referrals).
4.4.2
[Organisation name’s] Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy defines a vulnerable adult as
someone ‘who is 18 or over and is in need of community care services by reason of mental
or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or
herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation [add in
relevant details from own policy]’. Staff should also be aware of the Kent and Medway
Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy. This Policy details the procedures that must be
followed to report a suspicion or allegation of abuse to Kent or Medway Social Services or
Kent Police. (The Policy can be found – add location.)
5.
Training
5.1
Detail what relevant training on domestic abuse staff will receive and who is responsible for
ensuring it takes place.
6.
Monitoring
6.1
The following information will be recorded and used to monitor the levels of domestic abuse
cases presenting to [organisation name].
-
Number of total domestic abuse cases
Any other relevant data that can be recorded by the organisation
7.
Review
7.1
This procedure will be reviewed on an annual basis in accordance with the date shown on
the front page. The purpose of the review is to evaluate the effectiveness of existing
working arrangements under the procedure and to make any necessary amendments and
updates to these.
7.2
The review will be carried out by [add in job role/team].
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Sample domestic abuse policy and sample domestic abuse