Clare's Law Update
Clare's Law (also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme), launched in 2014 has already been used more than 1,300 times in less than a year across England and Wales. An invaluable service for those who suspect their partner may have had a violent past.
The Right To Know And AskClare's Law
was inspired by Clare Wood, a woman who was murdered by her violent ex-boyfriend in 2009. Her boyfriend had a history of violence but she was unaware of it.
Police figures show that at least 1,335 disclosures have already been made by the public since the scheme was launched. According to the BBC, the true total of disclosures is likely to be higher as 3 police forces did not release their statistics following a Freedom of Information request. Miss Wood's father, Michael Brown, described the situation as the "tip of the iceberg" stating "next year this is going to snowball".
The figures include both the "right to know" where police warn potential victims without them requesting the information and the "right to ask" where the information is asked for.
There was a variation in the number of requests that were being granted in both Merseyside and Manchester. The Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, Hazel Blears, suggested this was because Clare's Law was being "applied in different ways". More needs to be done to ensure that best practice is being used by all forces enforcing Clare's Law to ensure the safety of all that use the service.
If the information to be released is deemed to be "necessary, lawful and proportionate" then the disclosure will be made. If their partner has no history of abusive offences or the police see no "pressing need" then the information will not be released. This already seems like arbitrary criterion, especially in light of the fact that if you are using Clare's Law you probably already have reservations about your relationship.
You Can Still Get Legal Aid
If you have already used Clare's Law either successfully or unsuccessfully we would still urge you to think about seeking legal advice. Non-molestation orders
and occupation orders
can keep you and your children if you have any, safe from a perpetrator of violence. Each of these can help you take back control and give you time to think about what steps you want to take next.
Legal aid is available for domestic abuse
, so you shouldn’t let the cost of seeking out either of these orders stop you from securing your safety. Our legal professionals can also help to direct you to additional support services to help you along the way as we know that legal help is the first step, but additional support is a must.