Clare’s Law & Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

Sometimes a person may begin a relationship with someone believing them to be the ideal person and the ideal life partner. You may not realise what your partner is like until you have spent more time with them, living together or until you have formed a family unit. In such a situation you may become aware of certain characteristics, which if had become apparent earlier may have led to you not committing to the relationship. One of these characteristics is domestic violence and abuse. Often tied with domestic violence and abuse is Clare’s law. Domestic violence can often be the root cause leading to divorce and even the reason for some child custody issues and disputes.

Article Contents

What is Clare’s Law?

Clare’s Law, as explained by the BBC, is a scheme introduced to tackle domestic violence. Clare’s law, which is also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, is named after Clare Wood who was murdered by her former boyfriend in 2009. The purpose of Clare’s law is to provide information which may prevent someone from being a victim of an attack of domestic violence and it is therefore intended to protect people. 

Ms. Clare Wood was strangled and set on fire at her home by her former partner George Appleton, in Salford. Clare’s former partner had a history and a record of violence against women.

Clare had not been aware that her partner was involved in criminal background relating to domestic violence, despite being imprisoned twice, Clare’s partner failed to disclose any of this information to Clare. The Clare’s law scheme was campaigned for by Clare’s father who was convinced that his daughter would have been alive today had she been aware of the full extent of her former boyfriends’ previous behavioural issues. The Clare’s law scheme or the Domestic Violence Disclosure scheme was implemented in 2014 as a guidance for police forces.

What is the purpose of Clare’s Law?

The purpose of Clare’s law is to protect someone from being victim of an attack. This purpose under Clare’s law is achieved by allowing the police to provide information about a partners previous history of domestic violence. For this reason, it is also referred to as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme. The scheme is helpful as it allows a partner who may have concerns about their partners background as they can look to apply for disclosure by contacting the police.

What signs may I notice of domestic violence and domestic abuse?

There may be many signs of domestic violence and abuse which may not be apparent during a relationship, however, some signs may stand out more than others. It may also be the case that you are unable to see past the signs of domestic violence until you have discussed your issues with family or friends, following which you may realise that the actions of your partner amount to domestic violence and abuse and are a cause for concern.

Some of the most common signs of domestic violence noted by our family lawyers are:

  • Jealousy and possessiveness. Either your partner will want you to be around them all the time or they will accuse you of cheating when you are around others. They may continuously contact you when you are out and may even look to make enquiries with your friends and family members to query your whereabouts due to their suspicions and traits of jealousy and possessiveness.
  • Controlling behaviour. This usually takes place by way of constant questioning, limiting your social activity, advising you of constantly who you can see or what you can wear. People may often initially confuse this sort of behaviour as their partner being concerned about their safety and being genuinely worried for them, whereas it may be much more than this.
  • The blame game. You may be constantly blamed for minor arguments or when things don’t go well. Despite your partners actions they may always pin the blame on you in an attempt to put you down and make you feel as if you are the root cause of all the problems.
  • Isolation. This could mean preventing you from going out freely, limiting your communication with family and friends & giving you treatment of the silence. Isolation could also involve your partner forcing you to stay home when they go out to work or to socialise or preventing you working or studying at all.
  • Verbal abuse. This verbal abuse could take place either when you are alone or in front of children or other people. The verbal abuse may start off slightly before becoming an everyday event and becoming a constant part of the relationship.
  • Use of force following arguments. This usually takes place by way of pushing and shoving and physically restraining you to prevent you from leaving following arguments.
  • Disrespect towards your wishes and feelings. Your views and opinions may no longer matter to your partner. Your partner may carry out certain activities without taking your opinion or consent. This could include making you engage in sexual activity without your consent. The decisions they make without your consent or approval could be trivial or major decisions.

Who can ask for a disclosure under Clare’s law?

A disclosure request under Clare’s law can be made by members of the public in relation to their partners, close friends, or family members to offer them protection. Most commonly a partner who is concerned that they are at a risk of harm from their partner will usually be able to request for a disclosure from the police. Applications may be made by both males and females who are over the age of 16.

A concerned third party such as family members, parents, neighbours and even friends can make an application for disclosure under Clare’s law if they are concerned about the welfare of a person or have valid reasons to believe they may become a victim of domestic abuse and violence. What is important to note is that disclosure will only be provided to a person who is at risk of suffering, or someone who is looking to protect a victim of domestic abuse.

In relation to third parties, they may be able to make a disclosure request to the police, but they may not receive the information directly. Police will usually disclose information to a person who is likely to be affected directly or someone who is able to protect someone from being abused.

How is a request for disclosure under Clare’s law made?

The request for disclosure can be made by either going to the police station in person, calling the police or approaching any police officer you see. Once you have contacted the police, they will advise you on how to put in an application for the disclosure.

If no disclosure is made, this could possibly mean there is no information regarding your partner or there is no risk to you at the time. Where disclosure is made to you, the police will usually make a referral to specialist service to provide you support and ensure there is a safety plan in place you.

How is disclosure made by the Police under Clare’s law?

Receiving disclosure from the police under the domestic violence disclosure scheme involves several stages.

The initial step requires you providing your basic information to the Police. These details include your name, address, and date of birth. The police will then make initial checks and searches once you have provided the initial information to them. The initial step is used by the police to identify whether there are any immediate concerns which may warrant some urgent action. Unless urgent action and immediate is required the police will not be disclosing any information at the initial stage.

The second stage involves a face-to-face meeting. During this meeting the police will obtain your ID consisting of a photo ID together with an ID confirming your address, such as a bank statement or a utility bill. The purpose of the face-to-face meeting is for the police to obtain more information surrounding your relationship with the individual whose information is being requested, details of your concerns and how these have come about. The police will use this information to decide whether you are at risk of domestic abuse. The police will work alongside other agencies to complete enquiries such as the prison and probation services and social services.

The third stage, under the domestic violence disclosure scheme involves a multi-agency meeting to consider the disclosure. This involves the police and the other agencies with which they may have liaised with to obtain information. These other agencies could be, prison services, probation services and social services. The purpose of this multi-agency meeting is to discuss the information available, and the information obtained from the checks. A decision will then be reached as to whether any disclosure is lawful, necessary, and proportionate in order to afford protection to a partner or a former partner.

The fourth and final stage under Clare’s law is any potential disclosure. This disclosure would only be made if checks show there is information which needs to be disclosed to prevent further crime and abuse.

What if the police make no disclosure?

If no disclosure is made by the police, this could either mean your partner is not known to the police for offences related to abuse, or alternatively the information held doesn’t show there is a pressing need for it to be disclosed. No disclosure may be made where there is no record of your partner being involved in any abusive offences, or there might be a case that the police and the agencies do not feel that based on the information they hold over your partner that you are at a risk of harm from them.

Can I release information I have received from the police under Clare’s law?

The information supplied to you by the police during the disclosure of a Clare’s law application is given to you in confidence. This information is confidential information which is provided for your safety and protection only. This information should not be shared with anyone unless you have specifically agreed with the police that it can be shared. The police may be reluctant to make any disclosure where they feel that this information is likely to be released which will lead to a data protection breach.

Can the Police provide me information about my partner even if I have not made a request for it?

With Clare’s law you do not have to request information from the police yourself. A concerned individual who maybe a friend, relative or a family member may approach the police for your safety and wellbeing. In such a situation you may receive information despite not personally requesting it. You will only receive this information if the police consider you are at a risk of harm from domestic violence and domestic abuse.

I am concerned my partner may take steps to harm me if he finds out I have made a disclosure request.

Your partner is unlikely to find out if you have made a request for information. The police will not disclose your request to the person for whom you require information. When making a disclosure under Clare’s law the police do not need the views or the consent of the subject partner.

How can I gain help from the family courts to protect myself and my children?

Following disclosure under Clare’s law you may have realised that you are at a risk of suffering harm from the hands of your partner. In such a situation our family law specialists can assist you with approaching the court to obtain orders which will ensure you are provided protection for yourself and your children.

A common form of protection from the family courts is a Non Molestation Order. The purpose of this order is to stop your partner from harming you or threatening to harm you. You can also apply for this injunction without notice which means that your abusive partner does not need to be aware of your application and if successful they will be served with the injunction. A non molestation order can last indefinitely, for a specific time or until another order of the court is made.

Following disclosure from the Clare’s law application the police may have determined that you have suffered domestic violence. In such circumstances the police themselves can apply for the abusive partner to be prevented from contacting you or coming close to you. This is known as a domestic violence protection order.

Where issues of domestic violence arise the parent, who is at risk of being abused or has suffered domestic violence, may want to safeguard their children from being removed by the abusive parent. If you are a concerned parent than we can assist you with obtaining a prohibited steps order. Such an order awarded by the court will prohibit and restrict your abusive partner from removing the children from your care.

Another issue with a partner who has suffered domestic abuse is that they may be forced to leave the house which was intended to be the family home. There may be children involved which will need housing. If this applies, we can assist you with obtaining an occupation order. An occupation order is an order which will confirm who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area.


Is Clare’s Law the same as Sarah’s law?

Clare’s law is different to Sarah’s law. Clare’s law relates to domestic violence and abuse whereas Sarah’s Law relates to sexual offences. Sarah’s Law is the child sex offender disclosure scheme which allows an individual to get disclosure from the police if someone has a record of child sexual offences. This is usually used to get information on someone who has contact or access to a child. The details will often be requested by a parent, carer, or guardian of a child where they have concerns in relation to the child and an adult they are in contact with.

Is it only violent offences which are considered into account during Clare’s law disclosure?

Although the primary cause of concern when dealing with Clare’s law is violent behaviour, non-violent behaviour or convictions may also be taken into accident. So, despite a person not being convicted of violent behaviour the Police have access to information which may indicate concerning behaviour which can be used to warn partners.

Contact Kabir Family Law today for a free initial consultation

If you fear you may suffer from domestic violence at the hands of your partner or have concerns that your partner may have an abusive background then our family lawyers in York as well as across and including our Oxford, Newcastle or Nottingham branches can help. We can assist you by providing you all the information you need on Clare’s law. Where you need protection for yourself and your children, we can also assist you in obtaining the relevant injunctions from the family court whether this is a non molestation order, a prohibited steps order or an occupation order. We provide family law advice nationally as well as internationally through telephone, email, and Skype. We will also ensure you are kept up to date with you matter and assist you developing a strategy to help you succeed. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling on 01904 221400 to discuss your options or let us call you back.