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Clare’s Law: The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, more commonly referred to as, Clare’s Law was first established throughout the United Kingdom in March 2014. This law allows individuals to seek information from the police about their partner or former partner’s previous abusive conduct. The objective of the scheme is to alert potential victims and prevent violent behaviour from repeating.  This article will outline the elements of the law, as well as the application process.

Clare’s Law contains two elements: the “Right to Ask” and the “Right to Know”

The “Right to Ask” provides that a third party can ask the police to check whether a current or ex-partner has a violent or abusive past. Under the “Right to Ask,” the police may choose to disclosure information if an individual is potentially at risk of domestic abuse. The “Right to Know” allows police to make a disclosure on their own initiative if they receive information about abusive behaviour that may impact one’s current or former partner. [1]

To make a request under Clare’s Law, an individual can apply over the phone, in person, or by filling out an online application form that can be found on the websites of each police force.

The application can be made by the affected individual or a third party. However, it should be noted that when a third party applies, the individual at hand will likely be the person to meet with the police if the application is accepted.

Once the initial application is submitted, the police will complete their initial checks, typically within twenty-four hours. Following this, the police will contact the individual to arrange an in-person meeting within ten days on the application being submitted.

The police will then meet with other agencies and gather more information about the situation before deciding to disclose their findings. If the police deem it necessary to disclose their findings, they will do so in person. During the disclosure meeting the individual will be asked to sign a document agreeing that the information which is provided to them will not be used for any other purpose nor will be passed on further. [2]

There is no information in regard to specific family law proceedings in which they refer to Clare’s Law. However, there are numerous Family Law websites that indicate that Clare’s law applications are an option for clients, which suggests that it can be used in Family Law proceedings.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/domestic-abuse-bill-2020-factsheets/domestic-violence-disclosure-scheme-factsheet#:~:text=The%20Domestic%20Violence%20Disclosure%20Scheme,DVDS%20is%20based%20into%20statute.

[2] https://criminalinjurieshelpline.co.uk/legal-advice/clares-law/

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