Laura Sharman 25 August 2016

Councils urged to strengthen partnerships to protect victims of domestic violence

Two west London authorities failed to work together effectively to support a woman at risk of domestic violence, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has found.

The woman had asked Brent Council to help her move away from the area due to serious threats from her ex partner.

However, despite having a reciprocal agreement in place with six neighbouring authorities to re-house tenants who are victims of domestic abuse, the ombudsman said the council ‘inappropriately’ spent several months looking into a managed move within the borough.

When the case was passed on to Ealing Council, it then took 11 weeks to process her application instead of the agreed five working days, which stopped other authorities from accepting her case.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman said: ‘When people are particularly vulnerable, it is all the more important that organisations work together effectively to remove them from possible harm. This investigation demonstrates the impact when this does not happen.

‘Although there was a protocol in place between the two authorities, neither took proactive steps to ensure the woman was safely housed.’

The LGO said Brent has subsequently retrained front-line staff about its domestic violence procedure while Ealing Council has arranged for a designated officer to act as a central point for all referrals made under the reciprocal scheme. The woman also received compensation from both councils.

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