A COUNCILLOR has called for a tightening up of procedures for the protection and re-location of children fleeing domestic violence, after claims the school places crisis is potentially putting vulnerable youngsters at risk.
Labour’s Mick Lyons, who represents the Temple Newsam ward, said he had encountered cases where vulnerable families have been moved to new homes to get away from violence but delays - caused by classrooms that are already full to bursting - meant some youngsters have to attend their old schools for longer than necessary.
Where relatives and friends of perpetrators might still live in the area, this could increase risk to youngsters, Mr Lyons claimed.
“The processes are held up because of the shortage of school places,” he said,
“[In one case] we moved the family to a new property but found out that the children could not get into the local school.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous.
“We are supposed to have an open door policy but it doesn’t seem good enough.
“The kids will have been going to the same school they went to.
“A woman fleeing domestic violence should not have to put up with this, they have enough to put up with.
“I am certain we are not doing enough.
“They have got good intentions but they have not grasped the seriousness of the situation where women are fleeing violence.”
Since April, Leeds City Council has operated a Front Door policy, which it calls a “specialist, multi-agency response to improve the safety of victims and their children”.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for children and families said: “We do have procedures in place for children to move schools quickly where safety is a key concern.
“Ensuring vulnerable children in our city are safe from harm is always a top priority for us and tackling domestic violence is one of the main focuses of the local authority.
“Whenever we are made aware of such issues we can respond accordingly.
“Our Fair Access Protocol supports any family involved with agencies, such as police, housing, or social care who are in challenging circumstances such as fleeing domestic violence or racial harassment, and enables us to offer a place in schools even when they are full or have a waiting list.”
She added: “In Leeds we have worked hard to ensure victims of domestic violence and their children are fully supported.
“As part of this we have established a single point of contact for all domestic violence referrals.
“The Front Door incorporates the police, children’s social work and health staff to provide immediate assessment, triage and action planning of domestic violence referrals involving children.”