Bedfordshire Police deal with more than 70 Clare's Law requests for information about potential abusers in one year

But out of 42 Right to Ask applications by the public, only seven disclosures were approved

By Rerporter
Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 4:13 pm

More than 70 requests for information about potential abusers were handled by Bedfordshire police in a year.

Known as Clare’s Law, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme allows police to share someone's criminal history with their current partner if they feel they are at risk.

Despite rates of domestic violence rising in the area, there are fewer people turning to the national scheme for information, figures show.

Out of 42 Right to Ask applications by the public, only seven disclosures were approved

Named in memory of Clare Wood, who was killed by a former partner police knew to be dangerous, Clare's Law has two elements.

Right to Ask allows the public to request disclosure from police about a potential abuser while Right to Know sees officers seek permission to share information with someone about their partner.

Information can be provided if the subject has been convicted, cautioned or reprimanded for violent or abusive offences or if safeguarding authorities hold intelligence to suggest they are a risk to their partner.

Data from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services shows that Bedfordshire officers submitted 32 applications in the year to March 2020 under Right to Know and 14 were approved in that time, the equivalent of 44 per cent.

The public were less successful, with 42 Right to Ask applications submitted and seven disclosures approved – around 17 per cent.

Unsuccessful applications include those where there is nothing to disclose, that do not meet the eligibility criteria or where the applicant withdraws the request.

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Laws, head of Bedfordshire Police’s Emerald team, dedicated to investigating domestic abuse, said: “Anyone with concerns for themselves, or for another person, can apply if they believe they are in a relationship with an individual that could be abusive towards them.

“We will investigate and, when there is relevant information to disclose, we will arrange to speak confidentially with the person at risk. If they choose to take action, then together with our partner agencies, we can provide assistance towards making those choices, and getting access to support.”

“If an application meets the criteria, legally we can only share information with the person at risk.

“Prior to last September, applications had to be made by phone, or in person, which could be difficult for someone living in an abusive relationship. Applications can now be made online via our website, and since then we have seen on average more than 20 applications per month.

“We recognise this is a valuable tool in keeping people safe, and together with our partner agencies, we continue to publicise the availability of the scheme and would encourage anyone with concerns to make an application.”

Applications can be made online here or by calling 101, or in person at a police station.

Clare's Law applications decreased in Bedfordshire, from 102 in the year to March 2019 to 74, while the overall disclosure rate dropped from 61 per cent to 28 per cent.

At the same time, the number of domestic abuse crimes in the area rose to 7,907 from 6,184.