The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, known as “Clare’s Law”, was introduced Across England & Wales in 2014. A mirror scheme called the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland, operates north of the border. This important legislation aims to prevent ongoing or future harm to those at risk of domestic abuse.
Clare’s Law is named after Clare Wood from Salford who was murdered horrifically in 2009. Clare was not protected as she should have been by the police despite lodging multiple complaints with the local police force. The police also did not make any link to Clare’s allegations and her partners previous criminal history of domestic abuse. Had Clare been made aware of her partners serious prior offences and had the police acted to protect her once she made her concerns known, her life may have been saved.
This led to a review of investigation and disclosure procedures across the country.
The aim of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and its Scottish equivalent is to allow individuals the opportunity to make a formal enquiry to the local police force where there is a concern that their partner may pose a risk to them. The police have a duty to release information about any past abuse related offences in order to prevent harm being caused to a current partner.
The scheme is open to anyone in an intimate relationship with the suspected abuser but also concerned relatives, friends and neighbours.
Those wishing to make an enquiry have two rights that can be exercised. The “Right To Ask” and “The Right To Know”.
Under the Right to Ask, anyone can make an application where they have legitimate concerns about someone who is in a close relationship with a potential abuser. Whilst the right to ask exists for certain categories of concerned people. there is no guarantee that they will receive information. Ideally this should be disclosed to the individual at risk or close family who can take steps to protect the potential victim.
Under the Right to Know, the police or other bodies can be proactive and disclose information without the person at risk making a formal request. This generally would only happen where the threat of present or future harm exists.
A request can be submitted to a local police station by visiting the branch or calling 101. Most police authorities also have online application forms to make the process less stressful. Search for the local force and then Clare’s Law and you should find the link. Here are a few examples of online submission links:
The police take every request very seriously and go through rigorous procedures prior to disclosure. They have to consider the safety of the individual at risk as a priority. They will implement a safety plan to ensure that those at risk are protected.
The latest available statistics suggest that in 2019 more than 4000 people made successful applications under Clare’s Law across 36 police forces. This is a significant number and if you consider that every one of those 4000 people would have been classified as “at risk”, many lives would have been saved and many potential victims were protected from further harm.
This legislation is a significant step forward in the fight to protect domestic abuse victims. The process is there to help you, your friend, relative or neighbour. Clare’s Law put simply – saves lives.
Many domestic abuse victims can seek compensation through a government run scheme operated by the CICA. We can advise our clients or potential clients with guidance on firstly how to implement Clare’s Law and secondly whether they are able to then win compensation to assist with their new life and future wellbeing.