It has recently been announced that The Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme will be extended to cover all of England and Wales from March 2014. The scheme enables a person to ascertain from the police whether their partner has had a history of domestic violence. It has already been piloted in several areas, including Greater Manchester, since September 2012.
The initiative has been described by the police as ‘Clare’s Law’ and follows the campaign launched by the father of Clare Wood. Clare was tragically murdered in February 2009 by George Appleton whom she met through Facebook. It later transpired that, unknown to Clare, Mr Appleton had a record of domestic violence against previous partners.
Whilst the news has been largely welcomed by domestic abuse support organisations as a step forward, it must be recognised that both public awareness and use of the scheme remains relatively low. In addition, critics of the scheme say that the main problem with domestic abuse and violence is that so much of it is unreported and happens ‘under the radar.’ If a perpetrator of domestic abuse has no previous police record of domestic abuse, their partner may have no accurate idea over the risks posed to them by continuing or embarking in a relationship with the perpertrator.
Whilst legal aid for most family matters has been significantly reduced by the government, it remains available for those who have suffered or are at risk of domestic abuse or violence from their partner. In those circumstances, a non-molestation order (popularly known as an injunction) can be obtained on an urgent basis to prevent any repetition of such abuse. The breaching of a non-molestation order is a criminal offence.
For more information regarding ‘Clare’s Law’ see:
If you believe you are at risk of domestic abuse or violence, please do not suffer in silence. Our Family Department is always ready to help.