Clare’s Law – consultation open – what do you think?

Following the tragic murder of Clare Wood, calls have come about for the right of victims to ask for information about the ‘history’ of their new partners in terms of whether they have been abusive in a previous relationship and for the police to proactively disclose information about their partner’s previous DV history.  The Home Office announced yesterday that there will be a consultation to pilot a new Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.  The options for consideration include:

  1. Continuing with the current arrangements – these allow any member of the public to ask the police for information about a third party’s violent history, and the police have the discretion to share this information if it is proportionate to prevent further crime.
  2. ‘Right to Ask’ – this could potentially create a statutory right for the public to ask for information about a partner’s previous history.  In these cases, the case would be referred to MARAC where a decision could be made about disclosure and the offer of support from an IDVA would be made.
  3. ‘Right to Know’ – in this option, the police would take information about an alleged perpetrator to MARAC, where a decision would be taken about disclosure to a new partner, or other vulnerable parties such as family members.  Again, support would be offered from the IDVA.

The proposed shape of the DV Disclosure rules has changed and we think for the better.  The focus is now on ensuring that disclosures are based on risk, that they cover the victim and other vulnerable people (children, other family members), that support is consistently offered to the victim when a disclosure is made and that consideration is given in a multi agency setting.  For those of you who loyally follow our MARAC guidance on information sharing, you will know that we have always included sharing information with new partners and other family members as an action to consider for MARACs.  (More on this on our website http://www.caada.org.uk/Practitioner_resources/Disclosure_of_Info_at_MARAC_FAQs.pdf ).

Our concerns about the initial proposal was that it was too focused on the criminal justice system – we know that victims of abuse will often not contact the CJS – and that there was a real risk of false ‘positives’, i.e. that victims would gain false reassurance if someone had no convictions.  Many of the most serious DV offenders do not have convictions for a DV related offence.  We will obviously be thinking more about this and will publish our response to the consultation on our website.

But your thoughts and reflections would be most welcome.  You can find out more at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/domestic-violence-disclosure/

5 Comments to “Clare’s Law – consultation open – what do you think?”

  1. I absolutely agree that this change to the law is required. I am very lucky to have survived a violent relationship although I have a life long injury to remind me of it. My ex parntner has NO convictions despite me being the third woman who has accused them of domenstic abuse so my worry is how many perpetrators are there who are NOT convicted and if women (or men) ask and find out they have no convictions will they be lulled into a false sense of security? There is a catalogue of harassment, violence and threats on the Police Database regarding my ex but will the Police be able to disclose this?

    I am so sad this is made to be seen as an issue of sexism against men. My perpetrator was a woman, but the fact is that most survivors (and those who don’t) are women. This issue is estimated to costs the UK £40 billion per year so we really need to act and prevent where we can. The emotional impact is immeasurable.

    Finally for anyone who is staying in an abusive relationship right now and beleives you cant be happy afterwards, you can. I recently married a wonderful new partner who treats me with love and respect every day.

  2. I originally started writing a comment to this but realised I was going on and on about it so much that I blogged about it:

    http://www.sarah-bates.co.uk/2011/10/clares-law-the-right-to-know

  3. One concern is that funding for IDVA services and domestic abuse services in general is insecure. Even more cuts are likely to come. Even where IDVAs have secure funding, the services are often overstretched. I wonder whether there would be a commitment from the government to provide more long-term funding for IDVA services and halt the existing cuts, to meet the increased demand that this proposal would generate. Also, there would be a need for further training for IDVAs to enable them to safely deal with the aftermath of such a disclosure.

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