One of the ways we protect people from domestic violence is through the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme - also known as Clare's Law.
Clare’s Law (which is another name for the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme) was introduced in 2014 following the tragic death of 36 year old Clare Woods. She was murdered by her partner, who had a record of violence against women. Clare’s father campaigned for the introduction of Clare’s Law because he believed that her death could have been prevented if she had known about her partner’s violent past.
Clare’s Law has two parts: the right to ask, and the right to know.
- Under the right to ask, any concerned person (a current partner, family member, professional person or-next door-neighbour) has a right to ask the police about someone’s past, if they are worried about their behaviour and think they may potentially be violent
- Under the right to know, the police may proactively let a person know if they are associating with someone who has previously been violent
If you are concerned that someone (your partner, or the partner of someone you know) may have been violent in the past, and is may be violent again, you can speak to the police by calling 101 and quoting Clare’s Law. Or you can call in to your local police station, or speak to an officer on the street.
When someone contacts us under Clare’s Law, we collect some information and do an assessment, so we can see if there is an immediate risk. Before we disclose any information about someone’s past, we will do some checks to confirm the identity of the person who is making the enquiry, what their concerns are, and why they are making an application. We will also consider the level of risk to the new partner, the level of risk to the person asking for the check (if they are not the partner), whether there are children involved, what information we actually hold, and whether it is necessary, lawful and appropriate for us to make a disclosure in order to safeguard a person from harm. We may also link in with other agencies who may hold information that would help us to assess the possible risks and decide on disclosure.
These checks are important and necessary, because we have to balance privacy with the potential risk to a person’s safety.
When the checks are completed, we will take the decision on whether disclosure can be made, and who it can be made to. If there is information to disclose to you, we will usually make sure that an independent domestic abuse support worker is also involved, so they can support you if necessary. If we decide not to disclose information, we will tell you.