8 March: International Women’s Day: The Home Office announces two initiatives to tackle domestic violence and abuse come into effect across all police forces in England and Wales from today.
Domestic violence disclosure scheme
The case of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009, highlighted the issue of disclosing information about an individual’s history of domestic violence to a new partner. The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, also known as “Clare’s Law”, introduces consistent processes which enable the police to disclose information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner where this may help protect someone from further violence. A disclosure can take place if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so.
The disclosure scheme has already been successfully piloted in the Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, West Mercia and Wiltshire police force areas.
How it works
Anyone can make an enquiry about an individual who they are in a relationship with or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.
If police checks show that the individual has a record of abusive offences, or there is other information to indicate the person you know is at risk, the police will consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the potential victim.
Your local police force will discuss your concerns with you and decide whether it is appropriate for you to be given more information to help protect the person who is in the relationship with the individual you are concerned about. The police will explain that the information should only be used to protect the individual concerned from the risk of harm.
If you have a concern about someone you know, or someone you are in a relationship with you should contact your police force on 101. You should always dial 999 in an emergency.
Domestic violence protection orders and notices
Alongside the disclosure scheme, from March 2014, the police and magistrates in England and Wales will also be able to issue Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs). These can be issued where there is insufficient evidence to charge a perpetrator and provide protection to a victim via bail conditions. A DVPO can prevent the perpetrator from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim a level some time to consider their options, with the help of a support agency.
How it works
The two-step process:
On being called to an incident of domestic violence, if the police have reasonable grounds to believe the victim remains at risk of domestic violence, they can choose to issue an emergency non-molestation and eviction notice – the Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN). Because the DVPN is a police-issued notice, it is effective from the time of issue, thereby giving the victim the immediate support they require in such a situation. The issuing of a DVPN requires police authorisation at Superintendent rank or above.
Within 48 hours of the DVPN being served on the perpetrator, an application to a magistrates’ court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order must then be made by the police and heard by the Magistrates court. Sundays and public holidays are excluded from this 48 hour time limit. The DVPN continues in effect until the court has reached a decision. If the court rules that the victim requires continued protection, then they may issue a DVPO which would last for a minimum of 14 days, to a maximum of 28 days.