Response from the Northern Ireland Office
We recommend that the Government . . .
take steps to ensure that information on the support services
available to those forced from their homes is made widely available
to bodies likely to come into contact with such people, and
that these bodies are encouraged to be pro-active in passing it
The Northern Ireland Association of Citizens' Advice
Bureaux (NIACAB) produces guidance for its officers entitled "Advising
clients who have been intimidated". This cross-refers frequently
throughout to other supplementary material, and includes a section
on rehousing. The paper is available electronically and we are
discussing with the national organisation (NACAB) having all or
part of it made available, as appropriate, throughout Great Britain.
NACAB are open to any suggestions we might make on ensuring their
material is as comprehensive as possible and we are checking it
for any apparent gaps.
In addition, we will be recommending to NACAB that
they stress to their staff that, in some of these cases, the person(s)
concerned would have had to leave abruptly and will arrive disorientated
and quite possibly traumatised. Sensitive handling and awareness
of dealing with victims of trauma would therefore be important.
At national level, NACAB draw on two very substantial
volumes of guidance - "Homelessness: the client's rights"
and "Allocation of housing accommodation: homelessness".
These are guidance on homelessness and housing law. Local Bureaux
also have both general and local information about the education
system, employment or, in its absence, benefits, and local medical
services. In many Bureaux, staff are competent to represent clients
where they should be considered a priority case, and in any ensuing
appeals, if necessary.
Paragraphs 39 & 56
¼ we consider
that there is a case for a more formal system of co-ordination
in Great Britain of assistance to those forced to move there
from Northern Ireland.
We recommend that the Government take steps to establish
a focal point with responsibility for co-ordinating both the development
of policy in this area and the activities of government departments
and agencies, local government and other bodies, including statutory
bodies and voluntary associations.
Government policy in this area has been to encourage
people to liaise with the police in a bid to make them more secure
within their own community or, if they have been obliged to move,
to work towards their re-integration. This is because there is
a tension between the Government's desire to help those genuinely
in need and, by so doing, actually furthering the objectives of
those trying to force them from their homes. Formalising the development
of policy and the co-ordination of support activities, as the
Committee advocates, would risk sending a signal to paramilitaries
that, by working to alleviate the consequences of their actions,
the Government was tacitly allowing them to continue with impunity.
The Government is satisfied that the support necessary
for victims of intimidation resettling in Great Britain is in
place, but that the Committee is right to highlight the need for
clear information to be available locally on how to gain access
to that support. Citizens' Advice Bureaux appear to fulfil that
function very satisfactorily: we will continue to study their
guidance and, if it is considered that supplementary material
or tailoring specific to the needs of victims of intimidation
is necessary, we will pursue that with them in the expectation
of a positive response.
4 December 2001