Written 17th September 2014 by Olliers Solicitors

More than 270 people in the Greater Manchester area have requested disclosures since the domestic violence disclosure scheme was first piloted. The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), also known as Clare’s Law, gives individuals the opportunity to apply for information about someone they are in a relationship with (right to ask) or in a relationship with someone they know (right to know).

Clare’s Law allows members of the public to enquire about their partner’s history if they suspect a violent past. Clare’s Law can be used by anyone concerned over a partner’s abusive behaviour, or those concerned about a friend or family member in a relationship and at risk of violence by their partner.

164 Disclosures Given

The scheme was first piloted in September 2012 and since its introduction Greater Manchester Police has received 205 applications under the right to ask and 71 applications under the right to know scheme. In respect of both, the right to know and right to ask applications, 164 disclosures were given to individuals.

Detective Superintendent Emily Higham from Greater Manchester Police commented:

“The results of this scheme are pleasing, especially when considering the number of people who are better informed thanks to its success.

“The initiative helps to protect victims, families and friends from devastating consequences while also enabling women to take informed action about their relationships and the opportunity to protect them.

“Nationally, two women a week die due to domestic abuse and our aim is to help victims regain control of their lives and move forwards to secure a safer and happier future.

“If anyone is in a relationship and wants to make an informed decision about the relationship or has any concerns, it is important to break the silence and trust your instincts. Spot the warning signs such as controlling behaviour, the use of violence, public humiliation and objecting to you meeting friends and family. This is an opportunity for you to take back control and make the right decision on whether to stay with your partner or leave the relationship.”

Disclosure Process

Following a request for information, an officer will meet with the applicant and take initial details as to what has prompted the request together with the nature of the relationship. The applicant will need to give their name, address and date of birth and some initial checks will be done to establish if there are any immediate concerns. Following initial contact with the police, a face to face meeting may be set up to complete the application, if deemed appropriate, to establish further details.

Working alongside partner agencies, the police will work to complete checks. A multi agency meeting will meet to establish whether any disclosure is lawful, necessary and proportionate and if so, will decide who to disclose the information to in addition to setting up a safety plan tailored to the needs of the individual. If the checks show that the individual being enquired about has a record for abusive offences or there is other information that requires a disclosure to prevent further crime, the police may disclose this to the person who is most able to protect the victim.

Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, said:

“Tackling domestic violence is a shared responsibility – we all have a part to play to eradicate it.

“Clare’s Law is one of the valuable tools that helps people take control back of their own lives and has made a real difference here in Greater Manchester. Although there is still much more to be done by police and others to improve services to victims of domestic violence, Clare’s Law is a huge step in ensuring the law supports victims and punishes perpetrators.

“We have to continue to urge members of the public to come forward and seek help. If you are being subjected to controlling behaviour you should seek help as early as possible, either from family and friends or from the police. Everyone has the right to live free from fear.”

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