Police are delighted that in the first month since the launch of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme also known as Clare’s Law on 10 March, 16 people in West Mercia and 6 people in Warwickshire used their ‘Right to Ask’ the police whether a new or existing partner may have a violent past.
In the first month of the scheme, 2 people used their ‘Right to Ask’ in North Warwickshire and 4 in South Warwickshire.
In West Mercia, 2 people used their ‘Right to Ask’ in South Worcestershire, 5 in North Worcestershire, 3 in Herefordshire, 4 in Shropshire and 2 in Telford & Wrekin.
Det Supt Stephen Cullen said “It is reassuring that people are using these new powers and we are continuing to encourage anyone with a concern that a new or existing partner may have a violent past to use their ‘Right to Ask’ the police if this is the case.”
If records show that an individual may be at risk of domestic violence from a partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.
For example a mother or father could make an application on behalf of their daughter or son if they are concerned a new partner may be violent. If it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so, information will be disclosed directly to the daughter or son concerned or to a third person for the purposes of protecting the son or daughter from domestic abuse.
In Warwickshire one disclosure has been made and in West Mercia two disclosures have been made. Other requests for disclosure are currently being processed.
The police can also use the ‘Right to Know’ to proactively disclose information to an individual in order to protect a potential victim of domestic abuse. This enables an agency to apply for a disclosure if the agency believes that an individual is at risk of domestic violence from their partner. Again, the police can release information if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so.
No disclosures have been made in the first month under the ‘Right to Know’.
Det Supt Steve Cullen said “Tackling Domestic Abuse is a clear priority for Police and Partners. ‘Clare’s Law’ allows victims to apply to us to understand what their partners past history may be, and where it is appropriate to do so we will disclose information in order that victims may make an informed decision around their own safety. Any disclosure will be part of a range of support measures Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police will put in place to support victims.”
Ron Ball, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner said “What is particularly satisfying is to see that not only are the public aware of Clare’s Law, but they are already using it. The latest HMIC report into domestic abuse highlighted the fact that Warwickshire residents can have confidence in Warwickshire Police’s service to victims, but there are no grounds for complacency. Clare’s Law is going to be a very valuable addition to the armoury when trying to prevent abusive relationships”.
Bill Longmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia, said: “This is an excellent scheme. I will continue to work with the Chief Constable to ensure that information is provided as appropriate and that anyone seeking information is dealt with in a kind and consistent manner.”
Anyone concerned about whether a new or existing partner has a violent past can visit the front desk of their nearest police station, ring 101 in the first instance or speak to a police officer. Information about the scheme will also be available online. The applicant would need to provide relevant information and checks would be done to confirm their identity.
Always remember though that if you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.
This is not the only new power being rolled out nationwide. Domestic Violence Protection Orders – already in place in West Mercia as a pilot force – will also be rolled out nationally by June 2014.
Domestic abuse takes many forms and ultimately is about control. It is a pattern or any incident of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people who are or have ever been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. It can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional
You may be experiencing domestic abuse if your partner doesn’t allow you to control your finances, stops you seeing your family, controls your access to information, or even what you wear.
We are urging people to visit one of the many websites such as http://www.womensaid.org.uk to find out more about domestic abuse because by understanding the smaller things that may constitute domestic abuse those affected may be able to do something about it sooner.
If you live in the West Mercia policing area, please visit http://www.westmercia.police.uk/advice-centre/personal-safety/domestic-abuse/getting-advice-and-help.html for information on support agencies in your area or Free phone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge.
In Warwickshire, police and partners are working together as Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse to encourage anyone affected by domestic abuse to seek help. More information about domestic abuse is available for victims, perpetrators, friends and family, and young people on http://www.talk2someone.org.uk or by calling the Warwickshire Against Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 408 1552 or the Free phone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge.