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Potentially life-saving domestic abuse legislation used nearly every day by Nottinghamshire Police

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Legislation to help keep victims of domestic abuse safe has been used nearly every day by Nottinghamshire Police over the last year.

Clare’s Law, introduced in 2014, allows police to pro-actively warn people who may not be aware of their partner’s abusive past.

It also gives individuals a right to ask about what the police may know about their partner.

Detective inspector Gareth Harding, force lead for domestic abuse. (53875742)
Detective inspector Gareth Harding, force lead for domestic abuse. (53875742)

The legislation has been used to make 356 disclosures to people who may be at risk or further abuse.

Nottinghamshire was the first force in the country to review all domestic abuse occurrences in order to assess their suitability for action under Clare’s Law, also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.

Detective Inspector Gareth Harding, force lead for domestic abuse, said: “When an incident of domestic abuse is reported to us our first thought is always about how best we can safeguard the victim from further harm, and the good news is that there are many very effective things we can do very quickly to help them — long before somebody appears in court and is convicted for their offending.

Stock image domestic abuse.
Stock image domestic abuse.

“Clare’s Law is an extremely effective tool that allows us to expose the true nature of their abusers. A good real-world example is of a man — and in the vast majority of cases we are talking about men — who has assaulted his partner but claimed it was a one-off and will never happen again.

“If we know for a fact that this isn’t a one-off and that this offender will almost certainly abuse their partner again in the future, we have a duty to speak out and protect them — however difficult that may be for them to hear.

“We would then tell them that we had information relating to their partner and give them the option of whether or not they wanted to hear it, but in most cases victims do want to know exactly what risks they are facing.”

Referrals under Clare’s Law may also be made to the police by other agencies and individuals — from housing providers to former partners.

Nina*, a pregnant woman in her early twenties, took the decision to cut all contact with her former partner after being contacted by Nottinghamshire Police to warn her of his extensive history or violence.

Speaking anonymously earlier this year, she said: “When I found out I was pregnant with his child I ended up getting a call from Nottinghamshire Police. I had heard about Clare’s Law before but hadn’t thought about using it because I thought I knew everything about him. I really didn’t think anything would come up.

“But when I got the results back I was so shocked I started crying. I could see he had assaulted another woman in the past and had around 20 other convictions for violence I had absolutely no idea about.

"I thought about my baby and the information I received has led me to cut him out of my life all together.”

DI Harding added: “We were recently extremely proud to support the national White Ribbon Day campaign, which focussed on what men can do to end violence against women.

"Our main advice there was the same as it is for anyone who is experiencing domestic abuse in their own home — call the police. We understand that this can be a very daunting step to take but there really are so many things we can do to help.”

Clare’s Law was introduced in memory of Clare Wood who was killed in her Salford home by her former boyfriend in 2009. She had been unaware of his violent history with women.

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “As police and crime commissioner responsible for representing victims, any measure we take to protect potential victims of domestic abuse is welcomed.

"Clare’s Law and its implementation is a prime example of how pro-active policing can have a tangible impact for the better on people in Nottinghamshire.”

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