Domestic violence scheme gives partners ‘right to ask’

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Clare’s Law – a domestic violence disclosure scheme – has been introduced in Sussex this week to give people the ‘right to ask’ about a person’s history.

The new national scheme gives people the ‘Right to Ask’ about an individual they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, if they have a concern that the partner may be violent or abusive.

Clare’s Law also allows the police and partners to consider disclosing that someone’s new or potential partner has a history of violent or abusive behaviour, under what is known as the “Right to Know”.

The scheme, already successfully piloted in other parts of the country, is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009. That tragedy brought into national focus the issue of disclosing information about an individual’s history of domestic violence to a new partner.

Trish Harrison, principal manager for Domestic and Sexual Violence at West Sussex County Council, who has chaired the multi-agency group planning the introduction of Clare’s Law throughout Sussex, said, “The dynamics of domestic abuse are complex. Although every situation is unique, there are common factors that run through all abusive relationships. Identifying and acknowledging these factors is important in preventing and stopping abuse. This new scheme gives us an extra opportunity to help people suffering domestic abuse. By providing the right information, to the right people, at the right time in the right way; we have the potential to help people change their lives for the better and to save lives.”

Each request will be researched and reviewed by police officers who specialise in investigating domestic abuse and helping to support victims. Final decisions will be taken by the existing locally based Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs). These regular meetings already focus on high risk domestic abuse cases and are attended by the police, local authorities, health, housing, probation, Independent Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs), and specialist domestic abuse services. Applicants can contact police at any time via 101, 01273 470101 or Police will arrange to meet them to discuss to establish the full circumstances.