A scheme which allows people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic abuse has been used almost 4,000 times in less than a year statistics have revealed.

Clare’s Law, named after Clare Wood who was murdered by partner George Appleton in 2009 who had a record of violence, came into force in March 2014 throughout England and Wales and aims to protect people starting new relationships with partners they fear could have an abusive past.

Whilst the scheme can only be a positive thing and is expected to rapidly expand, it’s important people understand the process involved. If they have concerns over a partner’s past, they should bear in mind that the application process will not provide an answer overnight nor can you simply walk into your local police station and leave with the full history of someone.

So, what is the procedure when wishing to apply under “Claire’s Law”?

If you have concerns that a partner, be it male or female, is being abusive or may pose a risk then you should approach the police.  You can also contact the police if you believe a third party i.e. family member or friend may be at risk from a partner by visiting your local Police Station, calling the non-emergency number 101 or speaking to a member of the Police on the street.  In the event of an emergency you should always ring 999.

After logging a request, you may be required to attend a meeting when your application will be considered further to assess whether there is any risk of domestic abuse, where information from other agencies such as Social Services, the Prison Service and Probation Service will also be taken into account.

It can take up to 35 days for police to process the application and complete all the necessary checks and even then it has to be considered whether disclosure is necessary. Whilst protection is the aim of the scheme, previous convictions are treated as confidential and are only disclosed if there is a need to prevent further offences. 

As the applicant you’ll be informed of the outcome of whether the information won’t be disclosed or whether there is believed to be a potential risk posed to you.

It’s also important to remember that support is always available from various agencies and that if you’re worried about the behaviour of a partner, safety plans can be put in place, with or without an application.

Whether you’re applying for yourself or a friend/family member, it’s important to know the facts before putting in a request under Clare’s Law and wherever there is immediate threat always contact police.

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