Domestic abuse disclosure law to be rolled out across Scotland

Women and men across Scotland who suspect their partner has an abusive background may now have that information disclosed to them, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland will be rolled out across the country later this year.

The First Minister and Chief Constable Sir Stephen House made the announcement while on a visit to Edinburgh Women’s Aid where they met staff and volunteers who work with domestic abuse victims.

They were joined by Michael Brown, whose daughter Clare (pictured) was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Salford, Greater Manchester in 2009. She was unaware of his history of violence against women.

Also known as Clare’s Law, the scheme allows people to contact the police and request information on their partner’s background if they suspect them of a history of domestic abuse.

It was trialled for six months in Ayrshire and Aberdeen with a total of 59 applications received and 22 disclosures made.

Each case is considered carefully by Police Scotland and other agencies to determine whether disclosure is lawful, necessary and proportionate to protect the individual from their partner.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “There is no excuse or place for domestic abuse in Scotland and we need to do all we can to ensure we protect people from what is an abhorrent crime.

“I announced earlier this year new funding of £20 million over the next three years to step up our work to tackle violence against women. We are working in partnership to combat domestic abuse and we see Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse as a vital step forwards.

“The victims of this unacceptable behaviour are predominantly female but males are also targeted; we must make sure that everyone is offered protection and information which reduces the risk of harm. I firmly believe that people who have concerns that their partner may have a history of domestic abuse should be able to find out.”

The First Minister added: “We recognise that disclosure itself won’t solve or get rid of domestic abuse. It isn’t the answer for all women or men in all circumstances but rather one of a number of interventions and measures.

“The loss of a son or daughter to violence is incomprehensible and Michal Brown has shown enormous strength and courage to use his daughter’s death as a way to change the system. His tireless work will hopefully protect the lives of others and I hope he is proud to know that he is making a difference.”

Police Scotland Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House, said: “Domestic abuse impacts on all our communities even though it often takes place behind closed doors. We will not tolerate domestic abuse. We will tackle it and we will remove those who present the risk because we want to prevent it destroying the lives of its victims and those children who too often witness this abuse.

“Following the pilot, the Disclosure Scheme will now be rolled out nationally and will play a key part in keeping people safe. In Aberdeen and Ayrshire, this scheme has now prevented 22 people becoming victims of domestic abuse.

“By expanding this scheme, there is the potential to protect hundreds of people and to stop them become the victims of abusers, either directly or indirectly. And it is a clear signal to those who would abuse others that they cannot hide and their abusive history will be disclosed if it means protecting others.

“This has to be one part of a long term approach to supporting victims which ensures that their experiences and the long term effect of disclosure on the people who ask is measured. Working with our partners, we will continue to support people through the disclosure process and to prevent people becoming victims of this terrible crime.”

Michael Brown said: “I very much welcome the national roll-out of the disclosure scheme across Scotland. It is heartening to see the success of the pilots and to know that the people given these disclosures will now hopefully not be victims of domestic abuse.

“Saving lives and protecting people has to be our ultimate aim, this is what makes all of our efforts worthwhile.”

Chief Executive Officer of Edinburgh Women’s Aid, Linda Rodgers said: “More than 2,000 women used Edinburgh Women’s Aid services last year. We welcome anything that makes women safer and we look forward to working with our partners in police in government towards a Scotland where everyone, no matter what their community, can live without fear.”

For more information on the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse in Scotland, visit: