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Your right to ask aims to save lives


Clare's Law, your right to ask, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland, domestic abuse, partner is at risk, disclosure, record of violence, police, informed decision, You have the right to ask the police if you think your partner or a friend’s might be dangerous.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – known as Clare’s Law – is intended to provide information that could protect someone from being attacked.

The aim of the scheme is to give members of the public a formal way to ask the police about an individual who they are in a relationship with or who is in a relationship with someone they know, if they are concerned that that individual may be being abusive towards the partner.

If police checks show that the individual has a record of abusive offences, or there is other information to indicate the partner is at risk, the police will then consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the potential victim.

So if you are worried about someone’s behaviour and go to your local police, they will discuss your concerns with you and decide whether it is appropriate for you to be given more information about that person to help protect the person who is in the relationship with the individual you are concerned about.

This also means you may receive a such information even if you have not asked for it.

That is because if the police receive information about a person you know which they consider puts that person at risk of harm of domestic abuse by their partner, then they may consider disclosing that information to you if you are the person best placed to protect the victim.

The decision to disclose such information when you have not asked for it will have been made by a multi-agency meeting, and the disclosure will only be made if it is lawful and proportionate, and if there is a pressing need to make the disclosure to prevent further crime.

The scheme also aims to enable potential victims to make an informed choice on whether to continue the relationship, and provide help and support to assist the potential victim when making that informed choice.

If no disclosure is made but you still have concerns and want further information about protecting someone from domestic abuse, the police can also help by providing you with information and advice on how to protect someone from violent behaviour and how to recognise the warning signs of domestic abuse.

There are also a number of specialist services and organisations providing information about domestic abuse, how to spot it and how to work with the authorities to intervene.

The scheme is named after 36 year-old Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, in 2009.

She had made several complaints to police about him before he killed her.

She did not know he had a history of violence to women. Speaking at her inquest, Clare’s father, Micheal Brown, said he was convinced she would still be alive had she known the full extent of Appleton’s previous behaviour, as she would not have stayed with him.

Clare’s Law also means that people who think they have a partner who is acting in a way which suggests that they might violent can ask the police about previous convictions.

This enables somebody to know whether their partner has a record of violence, and to be able to make a decision as to whether to stay with them or not.

In some circumstances, this right has now been extended to apply to ex-partners as well.

If they have already separated from their partner, it may also help with decisions about safeguarding themselves and their family.

In short, absolutely anyone can apply for a disclosure using Clare’s Law – so if someone is worried about their own relationship, or someone else’s, they can make a request for information to find out from the police if there is a risk of abuse.

How to contact the police about domestic abuse:

Police stations – go to any police station and you will be able to talk to someone;

Call 101 – the non-emergency phone number – to ask for advice and to begin the application for a disclosure;

Speak to Officers or PCSOs on the street – each knows what advice to give you and how to start the application process for disclosure.

In a threatening situation or emergency, call 999 and ask for the police.

For further information about Clare’s Law, click here.

Wales has the same system as England. For bi-lingual details relating to Clare’s Law in Wales, click here.

In Northern Ireland it is called the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme. For more information, click here.

In Scotland this scheme is called the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse. For the step by step-by-step guide to using Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Disclosure Form click here.

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