A scheme that gives people the right to know if their partner has a history of domestic violence will be piloted in Aberdeen and Ayrshire. It will start in late November and run for six months.
The Scottish Disclosure Scheme, also known as Clare’s Law, is named after Clare Wood, a mother of one, who was murdered five years ago by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford. Unbeknown to Clare Mr Appleton had a history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one of his ex girlfriends.
The chosen areas and dates for the Scottish pilot project were announced on 18th August at the latest meeting of the multi-agency board set up to develop the scheme. This body includes representatives from Police Scotland, the Scottish Government, the Crown Office, ASSIST Advocacy Service and Scottish Women’s Aid. The areas were selected as they have a “wide and varied cross-section of the population” and include people who may benefit from the arrangement.
Police Scotland say the pilot schemes will be monitored and evaluated carefully and hopefully we will see a reduction of domestic abuse enabling the plan to be rolled out throughout Scotland next year. The scheme is already functioning in England and Wales.
Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said “I find it extremely encouraging that more and more victims of domestic abuse have the strength and confidence to report domestic abuse, however we are not complacent. I believe the introduction of the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland will not only provide a mechanism to share relevant information about a partner’s abusive past with their potential victims , it will give people at risk of domestic abuse the information to assist in making an informed decision on whether to continue in the relationship.”
Disclosures can be triggered by victims, families or a member of the public concerned about a person, as well as public authorities such as the police and social work. The decision to disclose will rest with a multi agency forum taking all parties’ rights and needs into account.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said “It is only right that people in relationships should have the opportunity to seek the facts about their partner’s background if, for example, they suspect their partner has a history of violent behaviour. Tackling domestic abuse is a top priority for the Scottish Government and we have provided record funding to tackle violence against women.”