Bedfordshire Police makes it easier for domestic abuse victims to access information about potential risk Image: LoloStock AdobeStock_55703389

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law) is now online

Somebody with concerns about their own relationship, or someone else’s, has the ‘right to ask’ whether they are at risk of domestic abuse or violence. Bedfordshire Police is making it easier to enquire about a partner’s violent past, as applications can be made online, via an easy-to-use secure form.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), also known as Clare’s Law, was introduced in 2014. Up to now applicants had to contact police by phone, or in person, which could be difficult for someone living in an abusive relationship.

It is now hoped that the online application will encourage people to take the step to find out the possible risk before a situation escalates, and give them the opportunity to act on relevant information, or access support services to assist them with making future plans if they feel their circumstances mean they are unable to leave.

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Laws, head of the Emerald team dedicated to investigating domestic abuse, said:

“The scheme is designed to help people make informed decisions about a relationship. Anyone can apply, and we will investigate.

“If there is relevant information, we will arrange to speak confidentially with the person at risk and, together with our partner agencies, we can provide further assistance in making those choices and help getting access to the right support.”

Clare’s Law

Clare’s Law is named after Clare Wood, and the scheme was designed to protect potential victims of domestic abuse by allowing them, or someone concerned for them, to request information.

Clare was murdered at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009, by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton who concealed his past convictions for violence.

Clare’s father campaigned to get the law introduced, believing that his daughter would not have chosen to continue with the relationship if she had this information. Victim Support’s Project Development Co-ordinator, Jenny Bull, said:

“It is great that an online application has been introduced by Bedfordshire Police.

“Clare’s Law is a vital piece of legislation that everyone needs to know about. Finding out about previous behaviour could help someone understand possible risks make a potentially life-saving decision about whether or not to stay in a relationship and to seek appropriate support from specialist agencies.

“An online application will make it even easier to start the process to find out if you should be concerned about your own, or someone else’s, potentially harmful or abusive relationship. “Quite simply it could help save a life.”

To make an application, please visit https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/apply/Clares-Law.

Domestic abuse takes many forms, and can include:

  • Playing mind games to gain power
  • Hitting, slapping, punching or other physical harm
  • Pushing or pulling you around
  • Forcing you to have sex when you don’t want to
  • Controlling your money, or keeping it from you
  • Making you feel guilty, or using your feelings to control you
  • Putting you down or belittling you all the time

For more information and advice please visit the force’s domestic abuse information pages.

If you have concerns about a person’s behaviour towards another, or you fear for your own, or someone else’s safety, please contact the police.

To make a report, call police on 101, always call 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively you can call independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously and in complete confidence, on 0800 555 111, or report via its website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

The Signpost Hub

Victims of domestic abuse can also contact the Signpost Hub for free and confidential support, whether the abuse has been reported or not.

The Signpost Hub’s staff and volunteers understand the emotions and challenges victims may be going through. They are trained to listen and give help and advice.

Often just talking to someone, especially one who is not family or a friend, can help victims, or those affected, make sense of what has happened and find a way to help cope and recover.

They can provide a safe, neutral place for victims to voice their fears, worries and emotions, and the support is confidential and non-judgemental.

They also work with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups, and can make referrals to help victims.

For further information or to get in contact visit Signpost Hub.