Changing The Face of Domestic Violence

In March this year, Clare’s Law came into effect giving people across the country “the right to ask” which means they can contact the police to check if their partner had been charged for any crimes directing towards domestic violence. And it also allows the “the right to know” police to contact the partners of people linked with violent offenders. Clare’s Law has been helping to change the way domestic abuse is handled and bringing light to this crime as well.

Since March 2014 when the scheme went nationwide, there have been three thousand applications made to the police, with over a thousand of these applications resulting in a disclosure of a previous crime.

Clare Wood, a mother from Salford, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. He already had a history of domestic violence which Clare Wood was unaware. Michelle Livesey, from Key 103, campaigned for the law alongside Clare’s father. Michelle recently spoke about the scheme at the GMB Justice Conference saying “the more it’s talked about and publicised, the more potential lives it could save.”

Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme allows people to contact the police to find out if their partner has been given a warning from the police for any caution and has been met positively by the public.

Clare’s law was originally piloted in Manchester in September 2012, since then there have 801 applications and of those 321 disclosures have been made. Theoretically saving hundreds of local lives.

This comes after the social media campaign launched by an anonymous domestic violence survivor, called the Black Dot campaigns. The Black Dot has domestic violence suffers mark a discreet black dot on their hand. The aim is to let people know that a person is suffering from domestic abuse and that they can open the conversation. A quiet door opening the conversation and hopefully, help as well, it’s subtle enough that a person suffering from domestic violence can use it without fearing retribution. The Facebook page has gotten 37, 000 likes and has reached an amazing 4.5 million people worldwide. Furthermore it has already helped 49 women leave abusive relationships.

There has been an increase in the number of law firms within Manchester dealing with family law and domestic abuse. Even prominent Leeds based family law firm Lake Legal has expanded, opening offices in Manchester. Due to the closure of Oldham court, more pressure will be put on the Manchester court system to deal with these issues. The issue of domestic abuse and criminal conviction is a minefield of sensitivity and Clare’s Law may potentially lower the amount of women subjected to this system.

Absolutely anyone can apply for a disclosure under Clare’s Law, if you are concerned about a family member’s or friend’s partner you can apply for one as well by using the non-emergency police number (101) or going to the police station. The police will then return the call at a time when it’s safe to contact you again or if they believe you are in immediate danger then they will take immediate action. After the success in England, Clare’s law has been piloted in Scotland, potentially saving many more lives. Adding to this, the police have now been given a checklist to help spot the signs of domestic abuse, meaning they can help those who are in an abusive relationship and may not even realise it themselves.

Research has shown that local women’s right groups might be the key to help preventing domestic violence victims, Manchester Women’s Aid, is a Manchester organisation which provides refuge to women across Manchester, from emotional to practical support. Along with this End The Fear, Greater Manchester Against Domestic Abuse, helps victims spot the signs of domestic abuse, victims of forced marriage and FGM. End The Fear are giving help and advice through their hotline: 0161 636 7525. Also there is the 24 hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 200 247.

By Katie Beech   -   27-09-2015

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