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Published 07 June 2018

West Dunbartonshire Council has taken its No Home for Domestic Abuse campaign a step further by pledging even more support for victims.

Last week, the groundbreaking campaign - the first of its kind in Scotland - introduced strict new tenancy rules to protect victims of domestic violence.

And now the Council has become the first local authority to sign up to the Make a Stand scheme – a national initiative run by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), Women’s Aid and the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance.

It means as well as the practical help, legal assistance and tenancy rules introduced for No Home for Domestic Abuse, the Council has committed to providing a support service for residents. It also provides accessible information about national and local domestic abuse support services, a formal HR policy and procedure on domestic abuse and appointing a domestic abuse champion.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “West Dunbartonshire Council already has the most far-reaching protection for domestic abuse victims in place in Scotland thanks to our No Home for Domestic Abuse campaign, and it is now the first to sign up to Make a Stand.

“By making this pledge, we have shown residents and victims living in our properties that we are fully committed to eradicating this problem and are taking tough action to do so.

“Our message is clear - we will not tolerate domestic abuse of any shape or form in West Dunbartonshire.”

Councillor Caroline McAllister, the Council’s Violence Against Women Champion and spokesperson for Action on Domestic Abuse, added: “We hope that our signing up to this campaign offers further reassurance for victims and acts as a visible commitment to them that we are doing everything we can to end domestic violence in our area.”

Alison Inman, CIH president, said: “I’m thrilled that West Dunbartonshire Council has signed the Make a Stand pledge as this could make a very real difference in local communities.

“Domestic abuse is one of the biggest problems we face today. Millions of people are affected and two women a week are being killed by their partner or ex-partner.

“Housing organisations house and employ millions of people and it is our duty to do more to tackle this issue. These are our homes, our people and this is our problem.

“By signing the Make a Stand pledge, West Dunbartonshire Council has committed to supporting people in its communities and it is no exaggeration to say that this could save a life.”

The Council is acting in response to figures which highlight West Dunbartonshire as having the highest incidences of domestic abuse per head of the population in Scotland.

The ‘No Home for Domestic Abuse’ campaign will protect victims and their families by introducing a presumption that all tenancies for couples are in joint names.

If an incident of domestic abuse occurs, the victim will legally be entitled to remain in the home. The Council will also take a tough stance on tenants found guilty of committing domestic abuse by offering them only short-term tenancies and ensuring the property is at a distance from the victim.

Housing staff will partner with Police, Courts and Criminal Justice teams to coordinate swift action against the most serious offenders.