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What can I do if I suspect my partner has a violent past?

An important piece of safeguarding legislation was introduced in 2014, following the tragic death of Clare Woods, who was murdered by her violent partner.

The formal name for the legislation is the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, but is better known as Clare’s Law.

What Clare’s Law allows you to do is to contact the police and ask if they are aware that your partner, or a friend’s partner or family member, has a violent history. This is known as the right to ask.

The legislation also allows the police to proactively tell you about a persons history, if they become aware that you are in a relationship with a person who has a history of violence and you are at risk. This is called the right to know.

Clare Woods’ partner did have a history of violence against women, but she was unaware. At the time the law did not allow her to find out or to be told. Following her death, Clare’s father ran a campaign to change this, as he believed if she had been made aware of the risk to her safety, she could have then chosen to leave the relationship, preventing her death.

What do I do?

If you are concerned that someone (your partner, or the partner of someone you know) may have been violent in the past, and has the potential to be violent again, you can speak to the police by calling 101 and quoting Clare’s Law. If you prefer, 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 will collect some information and carry out an assessment, so we can see if there is an immediate risk to you and your safety.

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 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
• 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.

If we have some information to tell you

When the checks are completed, we will then make the decision on whether disclosure can be made, and who it can be made to.

If there is information to disclose to you, we can arrange for an independent domestic abuse support worker to also be involved, so they can support with any decisions you may want to make regarding your future.

If we decide that we are not in a position to be able to disclose information to you, we will inform you.