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Clare's Law

Since Clare's Law came into use on March 7th 2014, people across the county have been requesting information to find out if something in someone's past needs to be known in order to safeguard them.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, more widely known as Clare's Law, allows the public to request information about someone they suspect may be at risk of being violent towards a partner.

The law was introduced after the coroner at the inquest of murdered Clare Woods, suggested that women need to know of someone's history.

Mother-of-one Clare, 36, was murdered at her home by an ex-boyfriend who had a history of violence towards women.

He raped, strangled her then set her body on fire. She was found three days later. He hanged himself five days after the murder before police could find him.

The case highlighted the need for information to be shared with someone if their partner posed a risk to them, based on their previous behaviour and in some cases, convictions.

Det Ch Insp Gary Biddle and his team has been using Clare’s Law to help keep people safe.

In addition to managing requests from the public, the team has also been requesting information about people they know may be a risk to someone, and disclosing information to potential victims.

In this short film, he explains the difference between Right to Ask and Right to Know and the value of the new legislation to Essex Police.

Right to Ask: For the public

The scheme allows someone within a relationship - either male or female, to make a request to the police for information about a partner's history.

The scheme is also open to anyone who has a concern about a relationship and is worried that someone may be at risk of harm from their partner. If disclosure is deemed necessary, the information is given to the person at risk, not to the applicant. Since March, 40 applications have been received and nine disclosures made.

Right to Know: For the police

This side of Clare's Law allows the police to decide whether to disclose information to someone.

In both Right to Ask and Right to Know, a panel of police, probation services and other agencies check every request to decide if disclosure of information is necessary, before trained police officers and advisers then provide support to victims.

Even if no violence is found in someone’s background, police will still help with advice and signposting if someone is fearful of their partner’s behaviour.

How to contact police about domestic abuse:

  • 999 – if there is immediate risk to life
  • Police stations – come into any police station in Essex and you will be able to talk to someone
  • 101 – the non-emergency phone number. Call this to ask for advice and begin the application for a disclosure
  • Officers or PCSOs on the street – each knows what advice to give you and how to start the application process for disclosure

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