Thousands use Clare’s Law to inquire into partner’s historic abuse

Nearly 59,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to Police Scotland in 2016-17. Photograph: Getty Images/iStock
Nearly 59,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to Police Scotland in 2016-17. Photograph: Getty Images/iStock
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More than 900 people in Scotland have been warned that their partner has an abusive past over the past two years as a result of “Clare’s Law”.

On the second anniversary of the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland (DSDAS), Police Scotland revealed that 2,144 requests had been made under the scheme.

These led to 927 people being told that their partner has a previous history of abusive behaviour.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson praised the scheme’s success “in helping safeguard those who have been suffering from, or at risk of domestic abuse”.

The initiative was rolled out across Scotland on 1 October, 2015, following a trial period in Ayrshire and Aberdeen.

It is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Greater Manchester in 2009 and had been unaware of his history of violence against women. A similar scheme was introduced in England and Wales in 2015.

Nearly 59,000 incidents of domestic abuse were reported to Police Scotland in 2016-17 – an average of one every nine minutes – making it the greatest single demand on police north of the border.

Detective Superintendent Gordon McCreadie, Police Scotland’s national lead for domestic abuse, said the 
force was “committed to working with partners to reduce and ultimately eradicate the harm caused by domestic abuse”.

He said: “It is commonly about control, with a perpetrator seeking to slowly strip away the liberty, confidence and power of the victim, often through the use of threats, intimidation and violence.

“DSDAS is one way in which we can get ahead of the curve, helping to prevent people from becoming victims before abuse occurs.

“It empowers individuals, or others who care for their well-being, to take control of their future, enabling access to important information which will help them make an informed decision about whether it is right for them, and perhaps their children, to remain in a relationship with someone who may have a history of domestic abuse.”

McCreadie added: “DSDAS also sends a message to perpetrators, and those whose behaviour may be escalating, that if they become a domestic abuser their behaviour today will likely impact on every other day of their life and many of their future relationships.”

Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “Scottish Women’s Aid is glad to mark the second anniversary of Scotland’s domestic abuse disclosure scheme.

“We are a big fan of the idea that information is power, and the more information women have about the domestic abuse histories of their partners and ex-partners, the better.”