A Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme, more commonly referred to as Clare’s Law, is being launched in Jersey on April 1st.
Approximately two people are killed by their current or former partner each week in England and Wales. The case of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009, brought to national attention the issue of disclosing information about an individual’s history of domestic violence to a new partner.
Noting that her former partner had three previous convictions for harassment, the Coroner’s report into the murder in July 2011 contained the following recommendation:
“Subject to appropriate risk assessment and safeguard, I recommend that consideration should be given to the disclosure of such convictions and their circumstances to potential victims in order that they can make informed choices about matters affecting their safety and that of their children.”
Following a successful 14 month pilot scheme in four police areas which provided more than 100 people with potentially life- saving information, the scheme is now to be extended to police forces across England and Wales from March 2014.
The States of Jersey Police, supported by the Children’s Policy Group at its January meeting, believe that a similar scheme would be beneficial here.
The Disclosure Scheme has two functions:
• “right to ask” – this enables someone to ask the police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender’s Disclosure Scheme agreed by CPG in 2012 and introduced in Jersey in 2013.
• “right to know” - police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances. This currently happens in Jersey with officers making a Public Interest Disclosure to individuals due to a range of concerns.
How it will work
The process of disclosure with such a sensitive subject matter will involve some rigour and the following steps:
1. Initial contact and assessment of any immediate risk
2. Face to face interview with applicant including ID verification and further immediate risk assessment/safety measures put in place
3. Full research and risk assessment of application & further risk assessment
4. Decision route (Public Interest Disclosure Application (PID) to Deputy Chief Officer, Police)
5. The whole process should take a maximum of 35 days
Whether to disclose or not
The decision whether to make a disclosure could be made by police alone or with consultation with multiple agencies.
A multi-agency decision would ordinarily be taken during a MARAC or JMAPPA meeting for those subjects who meet the MARAC/JMAPPA criteria.
For those subjects who do not meet MARAC/ JMAPPA criteria then this would ordinarily be via safeguarding children procedures at a strategy meeting/discussion or case conference. The multi-agency decision would be actioned by the police representative by way of a PID application to the Deputy Chief Officer.
Detective Chief Inspector Alison Fossey said: “Domestic violence is still prevalent in our society but finally people are talking about it and the victims realising they are not alone.
“By introducing this disclosure scheme we are giving power to not only victims, but their loved ones to come to us if they have concerns and ask if those concerns are well founded.”
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