Independent monitoring of conditions in Swindon Women's Refuge

Susan Murray made this Freedom of Information request to Swindon Borough Council Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was successful.

Dear Swindon Borough Council,

This request is for information concerning Swindon Women's Refuge on the following matters:

1) In each of the last 5 years has the council instructed any independent investigation
of the conditions at Swindon Women's Refuge? If so, which body was asked to do this, when did it take place and what was the outcome?

2) Has any council department (eg Social Services) been asked to inspect this establishment? If so, when was this and what was the outcome?

3) Has the council received any complaints, or expressions of concern, as to conditions at Swindon Women's Refuge in each of the last 5 years to 31 March 2023? In the event complaints etc have been received how many were there ad what was the issue of concern?

Yours faithfully,

Susan Murray

Customer Services, Swindon Borough Council

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Swindon Borough Council

[1]Swindon Borough Council
Dear Susan Murray,

Case reference number: FOI005986

Thank you for your request. The Freedom of Information Act creates two
general rights in relation to information:

 1. The right to be told whether or not the information requested is
held
 2. The right to be given that information within 20 working days

We aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.

Kind regards, 

Freedom of Information Representative
Corporate, Anti-Social Behaviour, Leisure and Libraries

Swindon Borough Council

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Dear Swindon Borough Council,

I refer to my request under FOIA and it is with great concern I note you have failed to provide the information within the statutory time limit. The response from you is now delayed and this situation needs to be remedied immediately. Please supply the details requested without further delay. In the event these are not receive forthwith then a request for Internal Review will be sent and further action taken via the ICO if necessary.

It is in the public interest for information about Swindon Women's Aid and Swindon Women's Refuge to be made available since there are serious concerns about the operation of these bodies.

Yours faithfully,

Susan Murray

Susan Murray (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

It is of great concern that Swindon Borough Council fail to respond to this request. The situation that exists at Swindon Women's Refuge needs to be investigated. Women stay there to escape abuse from their partners and are then subjected to abuse in the refuge. They are bullied, threatened, left to rot in filthy flats, fail to get support and are often evicted without notice. Some women consider they are better off living with their abusive, violent, partners. The place is run on a skeleton staff and staff turnover is high as it is not a pleasant place to work. The landlord declines to undertake repairs and some women had little, or no, heating in the winter of 2022/23. The current rent charged for accommodation there is £444 per week. Quite how this place can operate in his manner beggars belief. As it stands it is defrauding the benefits system.

Caroline Airley (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

In Swindon Women's Refuge women are scared to speak out for fear of eviction. Basic human rights are denied to women there. It is more like a prison than a refuge.

Dear Swindon Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Swindon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Independent monitoring of conditions in Swindon Women's Refuge'.

My request for this information was made to you on 7 May 2023. A reminder was sent to you on 12 June 2023. Despite this, you still fail to provide the information requested and comply with the time limits set down in the FOIA. In the circumstances this will be escalated now. It will be taken to the ICO if necessary.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...

Yours faithfully,

Susan Murray

Susan Murray (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

It is a fact that women and children are being treated appallingly in Swindon Women's Refuge. Since Swindon Borough Council fail to provide this information it gives rise to serious doubts about their competence to address the problems that exist there. In recent times the women and children had no hot water for a week. This is a common occurrence there and they are often without hot water for periods of time. The landlord fails to deal with this as an emergency repair, to remedy it within 24 hours. At one time they had no hot water for a fortnight. Staff at the refuge do little to help, just issuing an additional kettle to heat water. These are third world conditions.

Freedom of Information, Swindon Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Susan Murray,

Re: Freedom of Information Request FOI005986.

 

I acknowledge the receipt of your email request dated 07/05/2023.

The Council has a duty to respond ‘promptly’, or no later than 20 working
days which in this case was 06/06/2023. We apologies for the delay in
responding to your request.

 

Please find the response to the following questions;

 

1) In each of the last 5 years has the council instructed any independent
investigation of the conditions at Swindon Women's Refuge? If so, which
body was asked to do this, when did it take place and what was the
outcome?

 

Response : Before Covid - lay assessors attended the refuge. yearly  The
outcome was satisfactory on all occasions

 

2) Has any council department (e.g. Social Services) been  asked to
inspect this establishment? If so,  when was this and what was the
outcome?

 

Response: No. Social Workers and other Children' Services staff visit the
refuge regularly to see victims and I am sure if there were any concerns
these would have been flagged.

 

3) Has the council received any complaints, or expressions of concern, as
to conditions at Swindon Women's Refuge in each of the last 5 years to 31
March 2023? In the event complaints etc have been received how many were
there ad what was the issue of concern?

 

Response: None

 

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for your response of 13 July 2023.

I have noted the information provided however it is of great concern that Swindon Borough Council fails to investigate, or monitor, the situation at the Women's Refuge. It can be stated as a fact that this establishment is in need of examination given the conditions and the abysmal manner in which women are treated. The agreement to reside there, which they are coerced into signing on arrival, breaches many of their fundamental human rights as enacted in The Human Rights Act 1998.

Women are too scared to speak out in case this results in instant eviction which is something that occurs there too frequently.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Murray