First research on ‘Clare’s Law’ will provide clear picture of effectiveness from victims

Victims of domestic abuse who have accessed ‘Clare’s Law’ are asked to share their experiences with a team of researchers from universities in Lancaster and Liverpool.

The first project of its kind will address important knowledge gaps.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) – also known as ‘Clare’s Law’, in memory of Clare Wood, who was murdered by a partner with a known history of violence – was rolled out in England and Wales in 2014.

It allows police to disclose normally confidential information about a person’s criminal history to someone (i.e. a partner) who is deemed to be at risk of future abuse, to help them make more informed choices about their safety.

Under the DVDS, police can provide victims with information proactively, where they believe it will help safeguard them from future abuse, or in response to a request for disclosure by victims themselves.

The DVDS has fast become established as a routine tool of domestic abuse safeguarding in England and Wales, with the number of disclosures made doubling from 3,410 in the year ending March 2017 (Office of National Statistics, 2017) to 6,583 in the year ending March 2019 (Office of National Statistics, 2019).

However, no research to date has involved asking victims/ survivors about their experiences of these schemes or their efficacy and this project seeks to address this important knowledge gap.

This is particularly timely as the Domestic Abuse Bill (2020) plans to put these schemes on a statutory footing.

Dr Charlotte Barlow, of Lancaster University, is leading the British Academy funded research project and working with Professor Sandra Walklate, from the University of Liverpool and Monash University.

Dr Barlow has previously led research projects exploring police responses to coercive control since this was criminalised in England and Wales in 2015.

Dr Barlow says: “Victim/survivors voices are often silenced and, with this research, we want to ensure they have the opportunity for their experiences and perspectives to be heard.”

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