Clare's Law - the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is implemented on Women's Day 8 March 2014

17 Mar

Domestic Violence is a big problem.  It is indiscriminate; any woman or man can become a victim of domestic violence just as perpetrators of the same come in many guises.  As such it is incredibly hard not only for people to spot when someone is a victim, but also for people to avoid relationships with those who may have a history of such behaviour.

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Domestic Violence Words

Domestic Violence is a big problem.  It is indiscriminate; any woman or man can become a victim of domestic violence just as perpetrators of the same come in many guises.  As such it is incredibly hard not only for people to spot when someone is a victim, but also for people to avoid relationships with those who may have a history of such behaviour.

Clare Wood was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton, who had a history of violence towards women, in 2009.  Clare did not know about Mr Appleton’s violent past but now, thanks to campaigning for ‘the right to know’ by her father and a successful pilot across Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire, West Mercia and Greater Manchester, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme has finally been implemented across England and Wales.  The initiative will allow people to make a request to the police for information about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.  An application can be made by a partner or a concerned third party; although the latter may not then be the person to receive any subsequent disclosure information.  The first step is initial contact with the Police to make it known that you wish to make an application.  Initial checks and a risk assessment will be done at this stage.  The second step may then involve a face to face meeting with Police with further checks done including communication with other agencies.  The third step is a multi-agency meeting to consider appropriate disclosure, if any before finally the fourth step being the making of any disclosures.  The initiative also brings with it the ability for Magistrates to grant Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) in order to prevent perpetrators of domestic violence from contacting their victims for up to 28 days.

As one of the pilot forces, Nottinghamshire Police have some excellent information leaflets on their webpage which can be accessed at:

http://www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/document/domestic-violence-disclosure-scheme-leaflet-victims and at http://www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/document/domestic-violence-disclosure-scheme-leaflet-third-parties

Whether or not the changes will make a difference is yet to be seen.  Domestic Violence is a lot more common than statistics would allow us to think.  Many incidents go unreported for many reasons; anything from the victim wanting to keep the relationship going to them feeling embarrassed that someone as strong as they are has found themselves in such a situation. As such Clare’s law, whilst no doubt being of some assistance, may not be as effectual as hoped.  Many perpetrators of domestic violence will not be known to police or other agencies and therefore a request for information will not assist a partner or potential partner.  It is also unlikely that someone will ‘vet’ every boyfriend or girlfriend that they have as routine; at least one incident is likely to take place first and that is one incident too many.  By then they may already be drawn in.  Hopefully, though, the scheme will be used and will no doubt go some way to helping people to find out the information they need to convince them to leave a relationship before matters escalate.


Leanne Buckley-Thomson

For more information on Family Law, click here.