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  • Date: 25/09/2023

Domestic abuse specialists share more about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

This October, as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, specialist staff at our domestic abuse charity, Glow, have shared more about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS)

With services across Staffordshire and Derbyshire, Glow delivers support and guidance to people impacted by domestic abuse. This month, their Derbyshire team are highlighting the DVDS and its importance in preventing domestic abuse.

The DVDS is a service that makes it possible for someone to find out whether their current or ex-partner has a history of domestic abuse. The scheme was launched in 2014 and rolled out to police forces across England and Wales. It’s often referred to as ‘Clare’s Law,’ after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-partner in 2009.

Service Manager Clare Vickers leads Glow’s 180° Project. Based in Derbyshire, the project works with perpetrators of domestic abuse to help them understand the impact of their actions and realise the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

“The DVDS is all about prevention, to prevent someone becoming a victim of domestic abuse,” said Clare.

“It’s so important because it allows people to make an informed choice about whether they want to continue in a relationship with a known perpetrator of domestic abuse.

“People don’t tend to start a relationship off by being abusive. It’s usually something that comes to light after a few months, when their true colours start to show. It might not be a huge incident, but red flags could start to appear.”

There are two strands to the scheme – ‘right to ask’ and ‘right to know.’

Clare explained: “Under ‘right to ask,’ an individual, perhaps a friend or family member, can ask the police to check if someone has a violent or abusive past. If they do, the police will make a decision to disclose that information to the most appropriate person – most likely that person’s new partner – to let them know that they could be at risk.

“The ‘right to know’ gives police the power to disclose information they have on someone’s partner, if they feel that it will inform them of their past history of abuse. This is taken seriously and the delivery of a disclosure is considered carefully and sensitively.

“Sometimes the police might never come back with any information. This is a good thing as it means that there isn’t anything to disclose. This does not mean that the person is absolutely wonderful and will never perpetrate abuse, but rather that the police have no records of violent or abusive behaviour.

“We understand, as domestic abuse professionals, that a lot of abusive behaviour goes unreported, but at least with the DVDS, you know what the police know.”

The scheme is also a useful tool for Glow staff to use in their day-to-day work.

Clare added: “As domestic abuse professionals, we often see serial perpetrators of domestic abuse. They will go on to have multiple partners, who then become victims of domestic abuse themselves.

“Under ‘right to ask,’ we can ask the police to consider making a disclosure to the new partner, so they are fully aware of the risks that come with being in a relationship with that person. They can consider their safety and talk to the police about ways to exit the relationship if this is what they want to do.

“We know that people do have the capacity to change, but this gives someone the full picture, the reality, rather than just a shiny profile you might have read on a dating site.”

Click here to find out more about Glow's domestic abuse support services.