Post­code lot­tery for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence law

Fewer than half of re­quests for in­for­ma­tion are al­lowed

The Scarborough News - - WELCOME TO YOUR NEWS - by carl gav­aghan carl.gav­aghan@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @carl­gav­aghan

Peo­ple con­cerned about their part­ner’s po­ten­tially vi­o­lent past could be fall­ing foul of “jus­tice by ge­og­ra­phy”, an anal­y­sis of po­lice dis­clo­sure rates has re­vealed.

Ev­ery force in York­shire and the Hum­ber re­fused more than half of all ‘right to ask’ re­quests un­der the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Dis­clo­sure Scheme in the year to June 2017, while more than nine out of 10 re­quests were re­jected in some parts of the coun­try.

The scheme – bet­ter known as Clare’s Law – gives peo­ple the right to ask po­lice whether their part­ner has a history of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or vi­o­lent acts.

It also gives au­thor­i­ties the power to de­cide that some­one who did not ask has the right to know, in the hope it may pro­tect them from an abu­sive sit­u­a­tion be­fore it ends in tragedy.

But the Bureau for In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ism found wide dis­crep­an­cies in both how of­ten peo­ple use the scheme and how of­ten po­lice forces in Eng­land and Wales dis­close in­for­ma­tion.

It said dis­clo­sure rates for ‘right to ask’ re­quests, among 34 forces sup­ply­ing data, ranged from seven per cent in Northum­bria to 76 per cent in Cum­bria.

Michael Brown, who lob­bied for the law fol­low­ing daugh­ter Clare Wood’s mur­der by an ex-boyfriend in 2009, said he was “very dis­ap­pointed” with the way some forces were us­ing the scheme.

The former prison of­fi­cer from Bat­ley said: “Tack­ling do­mes­tic vi­o­lence should be a pri­or­ity, but it seems like the mes­sage just isn’t get­ting down to some bob­bies on the beat.”

Re­gion­ally, ‘right to ask’ dis­clo­sure rates were as low as 18 per cent in Hum­ber­side and 25 per cent in West York­shire but they reached just over 40 per cent in both South and North York­shire. In North York­shire, there were 62 ap­pli­ca­tions and 38 dis­clo­sures.

As with ‘right to ask’, there was wide na­tional and re­gional vari­a­tion in the ‘right to know’ dis­clo­sures prompted by po­lice of­fi­cers or of­fi­cials seek­ing per­mis­sion to tell a po­ten­tial vic­tim of abuse about their part­ner’s history.

More than three-quar­ters of those re­quests were signed off by se­nior of­fi­cers in West York­shire, but in South York­shire it was fewer than one in five.

De­tec­tive Chief In­spec­tor Al­lan Harder said: “Clare’s Law is a vi­tal tool for the po­lice and other safe­guard­ing part­ners. It is a key in­for­ma­tion shar­ing process aimed at keep­ing peo­ple safe

In North York­shire, there were 62 ap­pli­ca­tions and 38 dis­clo­sures

from harm.

“Im­por­tantly, the scheme also al­lows con­cerned friends or fam­ily mem­bers to get in touch with po­lice and re­quest this in­for­ma­tion too. Ul­ti­mately, this helps us all work to­gether to make sure we are do­ing all we can to keep peo­ple safe from harm and make sure any po­ten­tial vic­tims of do­mes­tic abuse are pro­tected.

“If po­lice checks show that the per­son of con­cern has a record of vi­o­lent be­hav­iour or there is other in­for­ma­tion to in­di­cate that any chil­dren may be at risk, the po­lice will con­sider shar­ing this in­for­ma­tion and taking ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.

“For vic­tims, we would en­cour­age them to con­tact po­lice. We have spe­cial­ist trained of­fi­cers who can take any nec­es­sary ac­tion to keep you safe. If you don’t want to speak to po­lice, then please call the In­de­pen­dent Do­mes­tic Abuse Ser­vice (IDAS) to get the sup­port we know you vi­tally need.”

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