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Police and partners launch Clare's Law in Dorset

Police and partners have announced the launch of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) in Dorset. This looks at disclosing information held about an individual’s history of domestic abuse to a new partner.

Commonly known as Clare’s Law, the DVDS is named after Clare Wood who was murdered in 2009 by her boyfriend.

Members of the public can make an application for a disclosure, known as the ‘right to ask’.

The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of gender.

Anybody can make an enquiry, but information will only be given to someone at risk or a person in a position to safeguard the victim.

Partner agencies can also request disclosure is made of an offender’s past history where it is believed someone is at risk of harm. This is known as ‘right to know’.

Common Law allows for disclosure to be made to safeguard people and for potential victims to receive specialist support to help them deal with their relationship.

Director of Public Protection, Detective Superintendent Chris Naughton said: “The scheme is based on risk management. If a potentially violent individual is identified as having convictions for violent offences, or information is held about their behaviour which reasonably leads the police and other agencies to believe they pose a risk of harm to their partner, a disclosure will be made. 

“The intention is to give potential victims information about the history of their partner, so they can make an informed decision about the relationship.”

Councillor Ray Nottage, Chair of the Dorset Community Safety Partnership said: “The Dorset Community Safety Partnership welcomes the roll out of Clare's Law by Dorset Police.

“Tackling domestic abuse and protecting victims continues to be a priority for us. The introduction of Clare's Law provides us with an opportunity to further protect victims, particularly those defined as being at the highest risk of harm.

“It is also a further way for the police, partner agencies and our specialist domestic abuse services to work together in partnership to provide support and improve outcomes for those affected by domestic abuse, and to prevent abuse occurring in the future.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: “I welcome the adoption of Clare’s Law which will give people the opportunity to make an educated decision about the future of their relationship.

“It will also strengthen the framework around the release of information about the violent past of partners. This is a valuable tool in our work to pre-empt domestic violence.

“In my manifesto, I made a promise that if I was elected I would bring Clare’s Law to Dorset. Clare’s Law runs on the same basis as Sarah’s Law, which emulated from a case I worked on.

“Clare’s Law will allow people to seek the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy. Domestic violence is complex, deep-rooted and societal. It is a huge problem and one that we need to address very seriously at every level.

“Clare’s Law will not just protect adults from abuse, but children also. Domestic violence is devastating for families and the damage is far reaching. I look forward to seeing the evaluation of Clare’s Law in Dorset and I hope that the new powers will give people more confidence to seek help if they believe they are at risk from harm.”

Members of the public who wish to make an application under the DVDS are asked to call Dorset Police on 101.

Details of services available to help and support victims of domestic abuse in Bournemouth, Dorset County and Poole can be found at wwww.dorsetforyou.com/dvahelp.

Issued: 8 March 2014