There are a number of views on the benefits of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), which is, in essence, the ability to check out a partner’s or a potential partner’s background.
DVDS could be very revealing and really help a potential victim to avoid becoming one. Some have countered that a negative result might turn out to be a ‘false negative’ and put a person at even greater risk since they might be under the misapprehension that their concerns are unfounded.
Consider the scenario where an abuser discovers that their partner has made, or is about to make, an application. He or she will attempt to then control that person to prevent them from doing so and put a person at risk.
Online dating is by far the biggest way of finding a partner in this technological age, so how could Clare’s Law help through a dating app? If a person is happy to have their background checked then a potential partner should know this before considering entering into a relationship.
So might a dating site consider introducing a tag that indicates the person is willing to be the subject of a DVDS enquiry? Whether or not a DVDS enquiry was made, the fact that a person is willing to be subjected to one might give a good indication as to their likely history and/or their attitude.
Favouring the choice of a new partner on the grounds of their willingness to undergo a DVDS enquiry gives a person the ability to make informed choices right at the beginning rather than finding themselves in a situation where they want to make an enquiry but are too scared to do so.
What is Clare’s Law / The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS)?
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS, also known as Clare’s Law) was brought in for all police forces in England and Wales in March 2014.
It enables the police to disclose information to a victim or potential victim of domestic abuse about their partner’s or ex-partner’s previous abuse or violence. In doing so, police have a duty to observe statutory guidance on the operation of scheme. This guidance is designed to increase the scheme’s visibility (and therefore encourage applications) and to ensure consistency of operation.
DVDS has two key modes: the ‘Right to Ask’ and the ‘Right to Know’. Under the ‘Right to Ask’, an individual (or relevant third party, such as a family member) can ask police to check whether a partner or ex-partner has an abusive or violent past. If the records do show an individual may be at risk, police will consider disclosing the information. Under the ‘Right to Know’, police can make a disclosure on their own initiative if they have received information about violent or abusive behaviour that might put the safety of the perpetrator’s partner at risk.
Police are at liberty to make disclosures under their common law powers to prevent crime and in compliance with case law, data protection and human rights legislation. Disclosure must be reasonable and proportionate, and it must be based on a credible risk of violence or harm.
Mark Groves CEO