Clare’s Law: Thousands seek historic abuse checks on partner

Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Manchester. Picture: PA
Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Manchester. Picture: PA
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Nearly 1,400 people in Scotland have been warned that their partner has an abusive past over the past three years as a result of “Clare’s Law”.

On the third anniversary of the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland (DSDAS), Police Scotland said more than 3,500 requests for disclosure had been made since 1 October, 2015.

The number of requests have increased each year.

This year there have been more than 1,360 referrals received through DSDAS, similar to the Clare’s Law scheme in England and Wales.

It is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2009. She had been unaware of his history of violence against women.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald, strategic lead for crime and protection, said: “Domestic abuse affects all of Scotland’s communities. It is a despicable and debilitating crime and DSDAS gives us the chance to prevent abuse before it occurs.

“The scheme provides an incredibly important opportunity for people who have concerns about a new partner’s abusive past to seek information from the police to help ensure their own safety.

“However, this scheme is also open to those with concerns about another person’s partner – this could be a friend, a family member or a support worker.

“This is crucial as the complexities of controlling and coercive behaviours often mean the people themselves may not recognise the development of abuse or don’t feel able or ready to make an application themselves.”

She added: “The disclosure scheme is about empowering people who have concerns with the right to ask about the background of their partner.

“We will always pro-actively investigate domestic abuse but this scheme is an opportunity to prevent abuse, to stop people becoming victims and to halt the trauma caused by abusers.

“If you are worried that your partner might have an abusive past, or you are worried about someone else then DSDAS could provide information that can help that person make a positive choice to protect themselves and their future.”

Latest figures also show applications from individuals using their right to ask have increased by almost 40 per cent in the last year.

The scheme came into effect across the country in 2015 following successful pilots in Ayrshire and Aberdeen and aims to prevent domestic abuse by empowering both men and women with the right to ask about the background of their partner, potential partner or someone who is in a relationship with someone they know, if there is a concern that the individual may be abusive.

Police Scotland say if checks show that the individual has a record of abusive behaviour then they will consider sharing this information with the person best placed to protect the potential victim. The police will decide whether it is appropriate for a concerned party to be given more information to help protect the person who is in the relationship.