New crackdown on domestic abuse
Details of partners’ offending history available.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has welcomed the imminent introduction of a landmark pilot scheme that allows women and men to access information on their new partners’ offending history.
From next Tuesday (November 25), Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse, also known as ‘Clare’s Law’, is being trialed for six months in Ayrshire and Aberdeen.
Prior to its introduction, Mr MacAskill and Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson yesterday met with the father of the woman the scheme is named after in England and Wales.
Michael Brown’s daughter Clare was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Salford, Greater Manchester in 2009. She was unaware of his history of violence against women.
Mr Brown, who is originally from Aberdeen, has welcomed the new measures.
Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, he said:
“We’ve already seen a successful pilot of Clare’s Law in England and Wales and the figures from Manchester in particular have been very positive, if somewhat bittersweet for me personally.
“This law is a victory for common sense and I am pleased to see a similar scheme now being piloted in Scotland.
“Should these endeavours save but one life here our efforts will have been worthwhile.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill added:
“No-one should ever have to suffer the pain of losing a son or daughter to violence. The strength and courage Michael Brown has shown following his daughter’s death is truly remarkable and his hard work in leading the campaign for the development of a pilot scheme will help protect lives.
“Domestic abuse is an appalling crime and I believe that people in relationships should have the opportunity to seek the facts about their partner’s background if, for example, they have concerns that they might have a history of domestic abuse.
“This pilot gives reassurance to the public and is backed by organisations such as Scottish Women’s Aid, who are hugely supportive.
“It is important that the practical implementation is tested to ensure that it is suitable for Scotland’s unique justice system. That’s why I am keen to see how this scheme works in the two pilot areas and continue to work with Police Scotland to look at new ways of protecting the public which will deliver benefits for the wider community.
“Clearly, combatting domestic abuse requires a range of actions and activity and today’s announcement is another tool justice agencies can use in their work to tackle this unacceptable behaviour. The Scottish Government is investing £34.5 million in funding between 2012 and 2015 to be targeted at a range of initiatives working to tackle violence against women, including domestic abuse in Scotland.”
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said:
“Police Scotland recognises the terrifying and debilitating impact domestic abuse has on victims. We know it can leave them isolated, vulnerable and often at significant risk. We are committed to providing a robust response to every domestic incident reported to us, and where we find evidence of a crime we will act consistently and decisively.
“However, we need to shift the focus to preventing these crimes happening in the first place and to keep people safe. The disclosure scheme will give people who may be concerned about domestic abuse the opportunity to ask about their partners’ abusive past. It will give them the information to assist in making an informed decision on whether to continue in the relationship.
“I would encourage anyone who is worried their partner could be abusive, who feels intimidated, as if they are ‘walking on eggshells’ for example, to consider applying to the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland for information about their partners abusive past.
“The pilots launching in Aberdeen and Ayrshire on November 25 will give us an opportunity to assess the scheme before rolling it out nationally next year.”
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