AN examination of efforts to improve community safety and introduce more help for victims of domestic abuse has been postponed for three months as there was no one available to present a report on it.
Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate and partnerships scrutiny committee expressed consternation and dismay, saying with domestic abuse soaring during the pandemic it was crucial that actions to help victims were launched imminently.
Councillors heard Hambleton District Council’s chief officer Justin Ives had emailed 41 minutes before the meeting started. Dr Ives stated he wouldn’t be able to attend the online meeting to present and answer questions on the report by North Yorkshire Community Safety Partnership, from which he has stepped down as chair.
While members said it was unprecedented for a keynote speaker not to attend a meeting, they said the report itself lacked detail and wouldn’t enable them to properly scrutinise pressing concerns.
The report stated “most of the definitions for accommodation and support”, within the recently enacted domestic abuse legislation was covered in the county’s current support for victims, but councillors said they wanted to ensure everything possible was being done.
Scarborough councillor Tony Randerson it was “absolutely vital” to ensure all victims of domestic abuse were offered life-saving accommodation.
The meeting heard councillors raise other issues such as the ending of “immoral charges” on domestic abuse victims by GPs for letters to get Legal Aid and what plans were underway to improve awareness of help for abuse victims.
Calling for a more comprehensive report to be presented to the committee, its chairman Councillor Derek Bastiman said it had failed to mention what protection was being offered to members of the LGBT community. He said: “I do think it is vitally important that everybody we look after is suitably represented.”
After the meeting a Hambleton council spokesperson said: “Dr Ives is no longer the chair of the Community Safety Partnership, but he had agreed to present this report at today’s meeting on behalf of another officer who was not able to attend. As such he did not prepare the report.
“Dr Ives was unfortunately not able to attend the meeting due to an unexpected last minute matter which required his attention and he submitted his apologies as well as an offer to respond to any questions the report generated.”