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27 September 2015
'Clare's Law' to be extended this week

'Clare's Law' to be extended this week

A scheme that allows people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic abuse will be rolled out across Scotland this week.

The Police Scotland-run Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse (Scotland) will be accessible throughout the country from Thursday. 

The decision follows trials in Ayrshire and Aberdeen which have seen 35 disclosures made from a total of 86 applications in the space of 10 months.

A similar system, known as Clare’s Law, had been introduced in England and Wales following the murder of Clare Wood by her boyfriend George Appleton in 2009. Appleton had a history of violence against women, which Ms Wood was unaware of.

Up to a quarter of police time is spent responding to domestic incidents with nearly 60,000 incidents recorded by Police Scotland last year.

Deputy chief constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: “When people form new relationships, there can be concerns that the new partner may have an abusive past. This scheme gives people the opportunity to ask that question. 

“During the pilot of the scheme, people who have received disclosures have been extremely positive about their experience. 

“Make no mistake, it is difficult news to hear but it allows them to make an informed choice, to protect themselves and by extension their families and children from harm.

“In some cases, it can break that cycle of violence. A key element of the disclosure process has been ensuring appropriate support is available to people who may need it. 

“We want to stop domestic abuse in all its forms and this scheme takes us closer to that aim.”

Information can be disclosed either if an individual makes a direction application or a concerned third party, such as a parent or friend, makes one on their behalf.

Police Scotland also has the ‘power to tell’ if information or intelligence is received about a person thought to be at risk and disclosure is deemed necessary to keep them safe.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The results of the pilot clearly show that the scheme works well and is a good fit for Scotland’s unique justice system. Put simply, it can save lives and sends a clear message that abusers can no longer hide.”

Scottish Women’s Aid chief executive, Dr Marsha Scott, added: “As an organisation that supports any effort that increases women’s autonomy and safety, we welcome the rollout of the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse across Scotland and look forward to working with Police Scotland to develop other innovative approaches to making women safer.”

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