A trial scheme which allows people to be told if their partner has been violent in the past is to be extended across Scotland.
The trial scheme has been running in Aberdeen and Ayrshire for the past six months. In this period 59 applications were made for information with 22 people being warned their partners had a history of domestic abuse. Following on from the success of the trial Nicola Sturgeon announced that the scheme would be rolled out throughout Scotland later this year.
The initiative is called ‘Clare’s Law’ after Clare Wood who was strangled and set on fire by George Appleton, her violent and obsessive former boyfriend, in Salford, Greater Manchester in 2009. Appleton had a history of violence and harassment against women which Ms Wood did not know about. Her father, Michael Brown, has been campaigning for people to have the right to ask for information about partners. He said “I very much welcome the national roll out of the disclosure scheme across Scotland. It is heartening to see the success of the pilots and to know that the people given these disclosures will now hopefully not be victims of domestic abuse.”
Clare’s Law : How to use it.
Any person can make an application about their partner if they are concerned that that partner may harm them; and any concerned third party (such as a parent, relative, neighbour or friend) can also make an application.
So what do you do?
- The first step is quite simply to contact the police. You can do this online, in person at a police station, by phoning 101 or by even speaking to a police officer in the street.
- At this initial contact with the police you will need to provide details about yourself and what prompted your enquiry. If when speaking to the police you allege a crime by your partner – for example- that your partner punched you- the police will investigate this as a crime and may arrest your partner. The police will run initial checks to establish if there is an immediate risk.
- You will then have a face to face meeting to complete the application. At this stage you will need to provide 2 forms of identification. The police will run more checks and speak to other services such as the Social Work Department and Prison Services. Once the police have gathered all the information available they will do a risk assessment to determine if anyone is likely to be harmed. The maximum amount of time from this step until potential disclosure should be 45 days.
- If the police do not think abuse is likely they will not make a disclosure. The information the police and other agencies hold on individuals is private and there has to be a pressing reason to share it.
- If the police feel that abuse is likely a multi- agency meeting will be held to consider disclosure and whether any disclosure is ‘lawful, necessary and proportionate’ to protect you from your partner. If at the meeting a decision is made to disclose information, it will then be decided who should receive the information and a safety plan will be put in place to provide you with help and support. The person to whom the disclosure is made is not allowed to disclose this information to anyone else without the explicit permission of the police.
- If you request a disclosure about your partner, it is likely that you would be given any details directly. If a third party has requested a disclosure the police may well go straight to the victim of abuse to make the disclosure. This means the third party might not be told the outcome.
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