10 Years of Clare’s Law: The Impact on Domestic Violence

Tue 26th Mar 2024
10 Years of Clare’s Law: The Impact on Domestic Violence

2024 marks ten years since Clare’s Law was passed, allowing people to see if their partner has a history of domestic violence. In 2023, eight women a month were killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. In the same year, there were 45,344 applications to the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) also known as Clare’s Law. The number of applications being made has been steadily increasing since its inception in 2014.

March 26th will also mark three years since the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 was passed. This landmark legislation led to a statutory definition of domestic violence encompassing both physical and emotional forms of violence. 

Overall, the impact of Clare’s Law should not be understated, however, there is still legislative work to be done. Shelley Workman, from Coodes’ Family team, explains…

What is Clare’s Law?

Named in memory of domestic violence victim, Clare Wood, this law allows concerned family members or friends to find out a partner’s criminal history. Her father pushed for the legislation after her death upon discovering a legal loophole. Data protection laws meant that former abusers could keep their criminal backgrounds confidential. 

Clare’s Law empowers people with the Right to Ask and the Right to Know. It can help put people’s minds at rest and help with taking proactive action.

The Right to Ask

Clare’s Law means you can make a DVDS application to the police about a current or former partner that you believe has a record of abusive or violent behaviour. From there, the police can either decide to keep the information undisclosed or to disclose it with you.

As well as asking on your own behalf, you can also ask on behalf of a close friend or relative who might be at work. However, depending on your relationship with the person, the police may not share the information with you. Instead, they may decide to disclose directly to your loved one or someone better able to protect them.

The Right to Know

Clare’s Law also gives you the right to know. This means that the police can proactively share information with you if they believe you are at risk. They will do this if their database shows that your current or ex-partner has a history of abusive behaviour.  

Apply under Clare’s Law

To make an application for information under Clare’s Law, you should contact your local police force. You can make an application on your own behalf or on behalf of someone you know. From that point, the police will decide what information is disclosed and to whom. If you are within Devon and Cornwall, you can apply for information here.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 999.

Domestic Abuse Act 2021

Further and more comprehensive legislation has since received Royal Assent since Clare’s Law ten years ago. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 includes the first statutory Government definition of domestic violence.

This Act supports all of the work put in place under Clare’s Law by putting on a statutory footing. People can now feel empowered by their legal right to see their partner’s criminal history.

 The Act also provides for greater protection for victims during legal proceedings and makes non-fatal strangulation and coercive control standalone offences.

Clare’s Law now operates in several countries across the world and has paved the way for further domestic violence legislation. 

Clare’s Law and Domestic Violence

We work closely with our clients and find that many are unaware of their right to request information about a partner. That’s why we feel it is important to highlight Clare’s Law in honour of its tenth anniversary.

At Coodes, we can support victims of domestic violence and you may be eligible for Legal Aid subject to your financial situation. We will carry out a free, initial assessment to assess your eligibility. Reach out to Shelley Workman from our Family team for more information.

If you are currently facing domestic violence, or are looking for help for somebody you know, please visit the below charities:

SUsie Project – a domestic abuse and sexual violence adult recovery programme. Telephone: 0300 777 4777

FirstLight – a charity for anyone who is experiencing or has experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence. Telephone: 0300 777 4777

ManKind Initiative – the principal, expert and specialist charity in the UK focusing on male victims of domestic abuse. Telephone:01823 334 244

Refuge – Refuge is the largest domestic abuse organisation in the UK. They offer support to thousands of women and their children, helping them to overcome the physical, emotional, financial, and logistical impacts of abuse and rebuild their lives. Telephone: 0808 2000 247

Tue 26th Mar 2024

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