Transforming the response to domestic abuse

Closes 31 May 2018

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

The Government piloted and then rolled out nationally the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), also known as Clare’s Law.[1] The scheme is based on the police’s common law powers and is underpinned by detailed guidance.

The DVDS did not introduce any new legislation. The scheme is based on the police’s common law power to disclose information where necessary to prevent crime.

The scheme provides structure and processes for the exercise of the powers. It does not provide the power to disclose or to prevent disclosures being made in situations which fall outside this scheme.

Any disclosure under the scheme must be within the existing legal framework and, in particular, have due regard to established case law, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Data Protection Act.

The scheme provides a set of recognised procedures for sharing information with a victim or potential victim, regarding their partner’s previous violent offences and spent convictions.

The purpose of the scheme is to increase public safety and afford victims of domestic abuse better protection by helping them make a more informed decision on whether to continue a relationship. We want to ensure that the DVDS is used consistently by police forces, especially the way in which disclosures are managed.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) domestic abuse thematic report in 2017reported that police forces need to raise awareness of the DVDS amongst victims and ensure victims are linked into specialist domestic abuse organisations who can provide additional support and advice.[2]

It identified inconsistencies surrounding the use of the scheme by police forces, noting the low volume of disclosures and the discrepancy between the use of ‘right to know’ and ‘right to ask’ disclosures.

To drive greater use and consistent application of the DVDS we propose to put the guidance underpinning the scheme into law, which would place a duty on the police to have regard to the guidance.

We believe that this would strengthen the visibility, and therefore use, of the scheme, resulting in more victims and prospective victims being warned of the dangers posed by a partner and thereby preventing further instances of abuse. 

We would also welcome ideas on how else we can improve the uptake and effectiveness of the scheme and share best practice in its usage.

32. Before reading this consultation, were you aware of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare's Law)?

33. Do you agree the guidance underpinning the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme should be put in to law?

34. How do you think we can best promote awareness of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme amongst the public?