Police seek to increase awareness of 'Clare's Law'
Sussex Police is carrying out a social media campaign to raise awareness of 'Clare’s Law'.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) enables people to apply for information about their partner’s (or ex-partner’s) history if they’re concerned about their own safety. It also enables a concerned family member, friend, neighbour or colleague to apply for that information to protect someone they believe to be at risk of harm.
A disclosure means sharing specific information about a partner for the purposes of protecting the person in a relationship with them from domestic violence, and is known as a ‘Right to Ask’ disclosure.
Acting Detective Inspector Daniel Dugan said: “Sometimes people worry their partner might have a history of abuse - there may be signs to indicate that person may have been abusive in the past, or they just have a gut feeling that their relationship could be dangerous. Clare’s Law enables that person, or anyone else who may be concerned, to find out for sure – and anyone can ask for this potentially life-saving information.
“It can help people make an informed decision about whether to continue with a relationship that could become violent or dangerous, and provides support when making that choice.
“This relatively underused tool that can help protect people at risk of abuse. With better awareness, we hope the disclosures will prevent people from becoming victims at the hands of abusers."
Police and statutory partners may also disclose information to an individual even if they haven’t asked, if they believe someone to be at risk, which is known as ‘Right to Know’.
The scheme is known as Clare’s Law because it was introduced across the country in 2014, following the murder of Clare Wood in 2009 by an ex-partner. Tragically Clare was strangled and set on fire at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009 by George Appleton, who had a record of violence against women.
Her family, who campaigned for the introduction of Clare's Law, are convinced she would still be alive had she known the full extent of her partner’s previous behaviour.
Danny Dugan said “We work closely with other agencies to identify those who may be at risk. Disclosures are also made to those that don’t ask for one, if we are made aware of information from police or partners that indicates a person may be at risk of harm from their partner or ex-partner.
“We are working to increase awareness in the community. Posters and booklets are being circulated to all doctors' surgeries and Citizens Advice Centres across Sussex to provide guidance and to encourage people to make an application if they have concerns about their relationship, or someone they know. These are also available on the Sussex Police website.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, said;"I wholeheartedly support this Clare’s Law awareness campaign because not enough people know they have the right to know if their partner has a history of domestic abuse or violence.
"Abusers and stalkers can be highly adept at hiding their past and, as we know from too many tragic cases, the realisation of a partner’s true nature often comes too late.
"I urge anybody in any doubt about a partner, or that of a family member, to make an application for a disclosure.
"I completely understand that some people might see this step as a lack of trust with the person they want to trust completely but, if you feel that somebody isn’t right for you, please trust your instincts…you are probably right."
To make a Clare’s Law application contact Sussex Police:
• Visit a police station or speak to any officer
• Email firstname.lastname@example.org
But if you believe that you or someone else is in immediate danger, always call 999.
There are a number of other organisations that can offer advice and support in relation to domestic abuse:
SUPPORT IN SUSSEX
• Safe Space Sussex
• The Portal – 0300 323 9985
• Worth Services – 0330 222 8181 / 01903 205111 Ext. 84395 / 07834 968539 (weekends)
• Victim Support – 0300 303 0554
• Veritas Justice
• National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 200 0247
• Galop – 0800 999 5428
• Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327
• National Stalking Helpline – 0808 802 0300
• Respect – 0808 802 4040
• Paladin Service: National Stalking Advocacy Service –020 3866 4107
Signs of Domestic Abuse: Domestic abuse (also known as domestic violence) may include:
• Emotional abuse – name calling, continual criticism, humiliation, withholding affection.
Isolation – controlling where someone goes or who they talk to, trapping someone in their own home, acting in a jealous or possessive way.
• Intimidation or threats – smashing or throwing things when angry, threatening to hurt children, pets or themselves.
• Economic abuse – giving someone an allowance, refusing to share money, not letting someone work.
• Control – taking ‘privileges’ away, making someone ask permission.
• Physical violence – pushing, slapping, biting, kicking or choking. Includes using an object or weapon to hurt someone or driving recklessly to scare them.
• Sexual abuse – holding someone down during sex, forcing them to behave or dress in a sexual way.