Proposals to close Torbay women's refuge shelter

Proposals have been put forward to close a women's refuge in Devon.

A consultation is under way into the plans in Torbay.

Westward Housing, which runs the refuge, said if it closed there was an increased risk women and children would remain in dangerous situations.

Torbay Council said it was looking at ways to provide better value for money and alternatives could include offering emergency accommodation instead. A final decision is due next month.

'Specialist support'

The council's director of adult services, Caroline Taylor, said the council supported seven units of accommodation.

She said: "Staff at the refuge offer support to women at flexible times. However, this is not available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"The proposal which we are consulting on is to change the accommodation provision offered to women and children fleeing domestic abuse from a refuge model to an emergency accommodation model.

She said, if implemented, the change would "provide greater value for money for the local authority by delivering emergency accommodation linked to specialist outreach support".

However, Cheryl Clark, supported housing area manager for the housing association, said its work was part of a national network that needed to remain intact.

She added: "In a two-year period, we accommodated 86 families that were fleeing abuse.

"We think it is essential that the service remains."

The association added it believed what the council was proposing was "unclear, untested, poor value for money and not based on supporting evidence".

The consultation is due to close on 25 September and the Conservative-controlled unitary authority said a final decision would be made on 17 October.

Devon and Cornwall Police responded to more than 25,000 domestic abuse reports across the force area in 2012.

Last week, Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a review into the way police in England and Wales handle domestic violence cases following the murders of two women killed by their former partners,

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