The Home Office following a successful 14-month pilot in four other police force areas has now introduced a national scheme allowing police forces across England and Wales to disclose to individuals details of their partners’ abusive pasts.
The pilot in four other police force areas provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information.
Clare’s Law, also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) provides people with the information they need in order to determine whether a new partner has a history of violence or abuse towards partners allowing them to make informed decisions about their relationship and escape then from that relationship if necessary.
How do I make a request for information?
If you are in the Northumbria Police force area, the procedure is to complete a Domestic Violence Disclosure form. The form can be accessed via the following link:
Alternatively, individuals can make contact with Northumbria Police and make enquiries via telephoning 101 or by visiting their local police
How will it work?
Every request under Clare’s Law is thoroughly checked by a panel made up of police, probation services and other agencies to ensure information is only passed on where it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. Trained police officers and advisers are then on hand to support victims through the difficult and sometimes dangerous transitional period.
The government also extended nationally the use of Domestic Violence Protection Orders from March 2014, which will provide further protection to vulnerable victims.
What is it’s function?
Clare’s Law, or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, has two functions:
The ‘right to ask’ – this enables someone to ask the police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme; and
The ‘right to know’ – police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances.
The Domestic Violence Protection Orders approach has two stages:
The first stage – where the police have reasonable grounds for believing that a perpetrator has used or threatened violence towards the victim and the victim is at risk of future violent behaviour, they can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice on the spot, provided they have the authorisation of an officer at Superintendent rank.
The second stage – magistrates’ court must then hear the case for the Protection Order itself within 48 hours of the Notice being made. If granted, the Order may last between a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days. This strikes the right balance between immediate protection for the victim and judicial oversight.
How can Clare’s Law help me?
At Kyles Legal Practice we often represent individuals who are known to local Children’s Services departments because of safeguarding concerns regarding their child or children. Often parents can provide “good enough” care to their child or children but concerns arise because of domestic abuse or violence from present or previous partners. To protect your child or children and indeed yourself from future abusive relationships then Clare’s Law can be used by individuals to find out more about potential new partners to enable you then to make informed decisions as to whether such a relationship is appropriate or not.
If domestic abuse or violence is a concern then at Kyles Legal Practice we are able to help. We offer free initial legal advice and in confidence and in most cases concerning domestic abuse or violence we are able to offer public funding or legal aid. For a free, no obligation discussion about your case and circumstances and in confidence please contact 0191 257 1051 and ask to speak to one of our family solicitors.
As always, if your life is in danger or you have in any way been made the victim of a criminal offence, in the first instance you should always immediately seek police help by telephoning 999.