Domestic abuse scheme leads to first prosecution

There have been over 1,000 applications under the scheme
There have been over 1,000 applications under the scheme
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A domestic abuse disclosure scheme which allows women to check on their partner's criminal past has led to its first successful prosecution.

Robert Burke, 54 and from Fife, pleaded guilty in November to offences including firing a shotgun at a former partner.

He received 190 hours of community service after appearing at Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday.

Police Scotland said the investigation into Burke began when it received information about him under the disclosure scheme.

Police said officers carried out inquiries after an application and concerns were raised about Burke.

Detective Inspector Jim Leeson, of the Fife Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “Burke had not come to police attention in the past – domestic abuse by its very nature frequently happens behind closed doors and in this case went unreported for years.

"We acknowledge that speaking out, whether you are a victim of or witness domestic abuse, can be extremely difficult and along with a number of support and advocacy organisations, the scheme exists to give these people a voice and allow police and partners to take appropriate action.

“In this case one of the offences happened 30 years ago, but the scheme still allowed us to receive the information, investigate and finally bring Burke to justice. He now has a criminal record and is known to police and our public protection partners so we can continue to take steps to reduce the risk of further harm.”

Dubbed Clare's Law after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009, the scheme led to more than 1,000 requests in its first year after being introduced in 2015.

Chief Superintendent Barry McEwan from National Safer Communities added: “The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland has been very successful since it was launched, and in its first year of operation 1,044 requests were made with 443 disclosures made. Every disclosure made is very carefully considered and where additional action can be taken, as in Burke’s case, we will.

“Domestic abuse is a priority for Police Scotland and DSDAS stands as an example of our commitment. Every disclosure through the scheme is helping to change lives by preventing people becoming victims, and I am pleased that so many people trust the scheme to be able to pass vital information to us in confidence.”

Applications to DSDAS can be made online at www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us/disclosure-scheme-for-domestic-abuse-scotland, by phoning 101 or at a police station front counter.