Police Scotland has revealed that 14 people have asked for information on their partner’s offending-history since the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme began its trial in Ayrshire two months ago.
The scheme allows police to reveal information to someone who has been identified as potentially at risk.
Chief Superintendent Gillian MacDonald, Divisional Commander of Ayrshire Division, explained, “Tackling Domestic abuse is one of our highest priorities and this scheme allows Police Scotland, in partnership with a number of agencies, to share information about an abuser’s past. By giving those who fear their partner may become abusive a means of voicing this and an opportunity to access professional support we are helping them make informed choices about whether to continue in the relationship.
”I would urge anyone who feels that their partner could be abusive, whether psychologically or physically, to apply to the disclosure scheme. Ensuring the safety of people living in Ayrshire is a priority for my officers and that includes anyone who lives in fear of abuse.”
Also known as Clare’s Law, the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme allows people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence. Calls for such an initiative grew after 36-year-old Manchester woman Clare Wood was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. Clair had met George Appleton on Facebook and had no idea about his history of violence against women, which included threats, repeated harassment and the kidnapping at knifepoint of an ex-girlfriend.
Between 2003/04 and 2011/12 the rate of domestic abuse incidents responded to by Police in North Ayrshire increased by 90.5% - from 996 to 1,897. However, following a range of initiatives operated by North Ayrshire Council, partner agencies and support groups, the number of incidents has fallen for the first time since 2003/04. The figure dropped by 77 in 2012/13 compared with the previous 12 months, which represents a 4.2% reduction.
Despite the fall, North Ayrshire continues to have Scotland’s highest-level of reported incidents of domestic abuse. Worryingly, the Council records that the high rate of domestic abuse has not translated into increased ‘homeless’ applications for housing, indicating that in many cases victims are remaining in the home where abuse has occurred.
North Ayrshire Women’s Aid reports that in 2012/13, 95 women and 60 children stayed in local refuges operated by the charity. In addition, 588 women were provided with counselling support.
The Ayrshire trial of the Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme will run until May. If it is deemed to have been a success, it is expected to be rolled-out across Scotland.