More people in Suffolk using right to find out if partner has history of violence

There is a fear that domestic and sexual abuse victims have been under-reporting abuse during lockdo

There is a fear that domestic and sexual abuse victims have been under-reporting abuse during lockdown. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

An increasing number of people are using their legal right to learn if their partner has a violent past.

The number of applications under Clare’s Law more than doubled in Suffolk over the last two years.

Police said the rise reflected a national trend, possibly due to wider awareness of the scheme, which came into force in 2014, five years after the murder of Clare Wood in Salford.

The number of people using their ‘right to ask’ went from 57 in the year ending March 2018, to 119 the following year and 131 in the last 12 month period.

In that time, 157 of a total 307 applications were granted disclosure by Suffolk police.

Meanwhile, ‘right to know’ applications, triggered by police receiving indirect information that may risk the safety of the a potential victim, went up from 440 to 470 between 2019 and 2020, with 250 resulting in disclosure following intelligence checks.

Detective Chief Inspector Barry Byford said: “We are committed to supporting and protecting those suffering domestic abuse and Clare’s Law is an important tool to this end.

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“The idea is to give individuals a formal mechanism in which to make enquiries about a partner and is a valuable addition to existing safeguarding measures.

“The decision-making process as to what to disclose is a complex one and we assess each case on its own merits and the circumstances. The decision is made by a safeguarding team experienced in dealing with domestic abuse.

“The reason for the rise can be attributed to greater public awareness and greater familiarity with the process internally with our messaging and promotion to officers.

“There are many reasons for non-disclosure – the prime ones being the individual case does not meet the threshold for disclosure – offending history is not present or not relevant, the information is already fully known to the applicant and there has been a change in the relationship so the disclosure is no longer required.

“The information remains completely confidential, the only person given the information is the person in the relationship. Their partner would never be told and the disclosure would never be given in their partner’s presence.

“Clare’s Law enables potential victims to take control of their life and make informed decisions about whether to stay with someone or not.”