It’s ten years since Clare’s Law was introduced, a bill to enable police to disclose information to a victim or potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abusive or violent offending. Here, we asked Nicole Jackson, Domestic Abuse Partnerships from West Yorkshire Police what it is and how it came about.

What is Clare’s Law?

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is more commonly known as Clare’s Law, named after Clare Wood, who was tragically murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend in 2009.

During the inquest into Clare’s death, it was revealed that her ex-boyfriend had a history of Domestic Abuse which was recorded by the Police. Prior to Clare’s Law it was possible for Domestic Abuse perpetrators to conceal their past violent behaviour due to the Data Protection Act, meaning that their partners were unaware of their abusive history, putting them at a greater risk of harm.

Clare’s Law was introduced in England and Wales in 2014 following a campaign led by Michael Brown, the father of Clare, which now gives any member of the public the right to ask Police about the criminal history of a partner they believe may cause them harm or if someone they know may be at risk.

Types of disclosure

There are two types of Clare’s Law Disclosures:

Right to ask

You can make an application to ask about a current or ex-partner that you think may have a record of abusive or violent behaviour. You can also ask on behalf of a friend or relative who you believe may be at risk from a current or ex-partner and your details would remain confidential to the person at risk.

Applications can be made by males or females over the age of 16-years-old in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. If police checks show that the partner or ex-partner has a record of abusive behaviour or there is other information to indicate the applicant may be at risk, a multi-agency decision will be taken on what information should be shared.

Right to know

If Police hold information that your current or ex-partner has a history of abusive or violent behaviour, they may proactively share that information with you because they believe you are at future risk.

The Police consider all information recorded and take into account all forms of abuse including psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and or economic abuse.

The Police will arrange for any disclosure to be shared directly to the person who is at risk, this will be arranged at a safe place, usually the Police Station.

A decision may be made not to disclose, this will be if there is no information held by the Police or it is judged that there is no significant risk of harm from the information known. This will be communicated to the person who has requested the information.

Why is Clare’s Law important?

Clare’s Law is an extremely important and valuable scheme to allow Police to safeguard individuals that may be at risk of harm from their current or ex-partner.

I would encourage anybody who believes that they or their friend/relative is at risk of harm because of their relationship to request disclosure through Clare’s Law so that they can make informed decisions about their relationship and personal safety.

How many Clare’s Law applications have there been?

In 2023 there were 3281 applications made in West Yorkshire Police which is an increase from 1412 applications in 2020.
In the last 12 months, in Bradford, there have been over 650 Clare’s Law applications and during our day-to-day work we are always reviewing opportunities to complete Right to Know disclosures to ensure that individuals have accurate information to make informed decisions about their relationships.

How to make an application

If you wish to make a Clare’s Law application for yourself or on behalf of a friend/relative, then please visit Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme Application – Clare’s Law | West Yorkshire Police or contact 101 to make a request.

If we can find information that would protect you, we will tell you. Their past doesn’t have to ruin your future.

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