'Clare's Law' right to ask if partners have violent past taken up

First published in News

PEOPLE in North Worcestershire, which includes Wyre Forest, have taken up their right to ask whether their partner has a violent past.

In the first month since the launch of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme - also known as Clare’s Law - on March 10, 16 people in the West Mercia Police area and six in Warwickshire Police's area used their right to ask the forces whether a new or existing partner may have a violent past.

In the first month of the scheme, in West Mercia, four people used the right in Shropshire, two in South Worcestershire, three in Herefordshire and two in Telford and 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 might 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 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 disclose information to an individual to protect a potential victim of domestic abuse. That enables an agency to apply for a disclosure if the agency believes 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 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."

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.

If anyone believes there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, they should always call 999.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders - already in place in West Mercia as a pilot force - will also be rolled out nationally by June, 2014.

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