Women will have more rights to find out a partner's domestic violence history as a new scheme is trialled in parts of England and Wales.
The Home Secretary announced today that police forces in Greater Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire will run a 12-month trial of the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.
The pilot scheme, which will run from summer 2012, will help victims or potential victims of domestic violence by disclosing information about previous violent offending by their partner.
There are two options - the right to ask and the right to know. The first gives people the right to ask police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts, and the second means police can proactively disclose information in certain circumstances.
It comes after calls for a national scheme gained momentum following the tragic case of Clare Wood, who was murdered by her former partner in Greater Manchester in 2009. Her partner had three previous convictions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘Domestic violence is a dreadful form of abuse. The fact that two people are killed by their current or former partner each week in England and Wales shows just how urgent is the need for action.
‘The government is committed to ensuring that the police and other agencies have the tools necessary to tackle domestic violence to bring offenders to justice and ensure victims have the support they need to rebuild their lives.
‘This pilot scheme is designed to prevent tragic incidents from happening, such as that of Clare Wood, by ensuring that there is a clear framework in place with recognised and consistent processes for disclosing information.’
End to violence
This is just one of the ways in which the government is tackling the issue of domestic violence as part of its overall call to end violence against women and girls’ action plan.
The Home Office carried out a consultation on the scheme, which received more than 250 responses from a wide range of high profile statutory and voluntary organisations.
There will be a decision on whether to roll it out further once the pilot has been evaluated.