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Watchdog finds ‘dizzying variation’ in police use of Clare’s law Domestic violence

Clare’s law, a scheme aimed at protecting unsuspecting women from new partners with a history of violence, is not being used properly by police forces, putting some women at risk of injury, a police watchdog has warned.

In a far-reaching review of the police response to violence against women and girls, inspectors found that the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), also known as Clare’s Law, was used inconsistently throughout England and Wales.

Under DVDS, every member of the public has the right to ask a force about a partner’s violent history. The police then decide if they want to pass on relevant information if they think it is necessary to prevent a crime. Police officers can also pass on information without being asked during the “right to know” procedure.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services found that about half (52%) of “right to know” DVDs applications were proactively carried out by the police in England and Wales following concerns about a person’s criminal history in year to March, resulted in disclosure to a potential victim.

And less than two in five (39%) of “right to ask” DVDs requests from concerned members of the public – such as partners with potential suspects – resulted in disclosure, although this can sometimes be attributed to a lack of information to be passed on. .

Police forces should aim to pass on information within 35 days of a request, but during the inspection, the watchdog found that a force had given only three of the 10 “right to know” information within 35 days and a case was still pending after 150 days. The same force had provided three of the four “right to ask” information within 35 days, but the outstanding case had run for 53 days.

Zoe Billingham, HM Constabulary Inspector, said: “We can only imagine what potential damage can occur if it is repeated across the country. This should be a really important and vital way to protect women and prevent crime from happening. The variation in the applications versus the revelations is just inexplicable. ”

Billingham said the inspection would look into the use of DVDs.

The scheme was established after the murder of Clare Wood in 2009. Wood had filed charges against her ex-partner in the months before her death, including harassment, death threats and sexual assault. Wood was not informed that her former partner had a history of violence against women and girls.

The root-and-branch study of the police response to violence against women and girls found “problems, bumps and inconsistencies” in dealing with the “epidemic” of violence against female victims in England and Wales.

The guard said the police response to such offenses and victims had improved in the last five years, but said there were still concerns, including about the “dizzying variation” across police forces in England and Wales in dealing with assaults in the home.

The report was based on more than 5,000 responses to surveys and interviews with victims, the public, police forces and GPs. It was commissioned by Home Secretary Priti Patel after the assassination of 33-year-old marketing manager Sarah Everard near Clapham Common, south London, in March.

Her rape and murder, by off-duty Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Couzens, prompted widespread outpouring of grief and anger as well as demonstrations of concern for women’s safety. Couzens, now fired by the Met, is due to be sentenced later this month.

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