Nearly 12,000 domestic abuse disclosures made in eight years, say Police Scotland

Nearly 12,000 disclosures regarding domestic abuse have been made since Police Scotland launched a scheme eight years ago.

The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland (DSDAS) has received more than 20,005 requests, including from relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours of people perceived to be at risk.

Since it was launched on October 1 2015, 58% of requests resulted in police telling people their current partner has a violent or abusive past, a total of 11,559 disclosures.

It takes about 45 days to process an application, with the intention that people are given an opportunity to end a relationship, or make an informed choice on whether to continue with it.

DSDAS applications can be made in person at a police station, on the phone using 101, or online.

Detective Superintendent Gillian Faulds, Police Scotland’s head of domestic abuse, said: “Abusers manipulate and control their victims.

“Abuse can be gradual and it can be very difficult for victims of domestic abuse to recognise their situation and to then take action to end their relationship.

“The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland helps someone at risk of abuse consider their circumstances and make an informed choice about the future of that relationship.

“The scheme operates two pathways, the right to ask and the power to tell.

“Under the right to ask, people who think their partner may have an abusive past, or (if) their family and friends have concerns, are able to submit an application.

“Where lawful, proportionate and necessary, a disclosure can be made to the person at risk.

“Under the power to tell, professionals including the police and partner agencies can apply for a disclosure to be made where they have reason to believe a person could be at risk of domestic abuse.

“If you’re a family member, a friend, a work colleague or even a neighbour, and you think that someone you know is potentially at risk of harm from their current partner, then you can make an application.

“Those at risk from domestic abuse who are told about a partner’s abusive past can then choose the course of action they wish to take, whether to end the relationship or continue it.

“Officers will always signpost those at risk to support and advice offered by our partners.

“All it takes is one person to alert us and we can help end the threat and harm caused by domestic abuse.”

Dr Marsha Scott (pictured), chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “Scottish Women’s Aid welcome any tool or service designed to keep women and children safe from domestic abuse, and we are pleased that the scheme seems to be working well in many areas.

“From the outset, we have called for the introduction of an evaluation process so we can measure whether women and children at risk from domestic abuse have become any safer since DSDAS was introduced.

“While it is encouraging to see that so many requests for disclosures are being made, we would caution against viewing these headline figures alone as a sign of success.

“Only when the longer-term impact of the scheme is subject to proper assessment and evaluation will we be able judge just how effective it has been in keeping women and children safe from domestic abuse.”

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