Sussex Police Significantly Improves Domestic Violence Service

Sussex Police has dramatically improved its service to potential victims of domestic abuse with an innovative new system.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), also known as Clare’s Law, allows people to request information on their partner or ex-partner’s criminal history to see if they are at risk of domestic violence. An individual can also make an application about someone else’s partner or ex-partner.

In Sussex, a new process has been introduced to slash the time it takes for people to receive this information – in some cases, responses are being given 75% more quickly than before the pilot.

This is despite a significant increase in the number of disclosure requests being received.

That means more people are making informed decisions on their own safety much sooner, potentially saving lives.

Much of the process now sits with the Local Resolution Team, a specialist domestic abuse team ideally placed to identify risks more effectively and link in with partners to swiftly gather information.

Disclosures can also now be made virtually, providing a more convenient, discreet option for people who may not wish, or may not be able, to meet in person.

Clare’s Law – the results

Through Clare’s Law, people can request criminal history disclosures on a partner via a scheme known as Right To Ask.

Police forces are expected to respond within 28 days of a disclosure request being received.

The new process has seen, on average, Right To Ask disclosures given 20 days faster – at an average of 14 days.

Police can also proactively disclose information about an individual’s violent or abusive behaviour that may impact their current or ex-partner. This is called Right to Know.

Right To Know disclosures are being given 25 days faster – an average of 19 days.

Where there was no relevant history to report, users were informed within eight days, allowing them to move on with increased peace of mind.

There is also an urgent disclosure process where disclosures can be given the same day in some cases.

Detective Inspector Martin Alchin-Gadd said: “Sussex Police is committed to reducing the devastating impact of domestic abuse by safeguarding victims and holding perpetrators to account.

“Clare’s Law gives people the information they need to make informed decisions and better protect themselves. The more quickly and accurately we can provide that, the better.

“These significant improvements to the disclosure process mean potential victims of domestic abuse are receiving life-changing information much more quickly and are better safeguarded as a result.

“I would urge anyone who has doubts about a new partner, or just wants that extra peace of mind, to submit a Clare’s Law application. It’s an amazing service that is there to help.

“If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, please report to police online or via 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.”

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Supporting victims and safeguarding the vulnerable is a top priority in my Police & Crime Plan. It’s now been a decade since Clare’s Law was first introduced and I am glad that Sussex Police continue to adapt and develop their processes allowing people to get crucial information more quickly.

“Clare’s Law gives us all the power to ask and the right to know and is one of many valuable tools in protecting us against potential harm. I continue to scrutinise Sussex Police’s use of the scheme and you can watch more about this in one of my recent Performance & Accountability Meetings.”

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