The Department of Justice has launched a new scheme aimed at helping to protect people from becoming a victim of domestic violence or abuse.
The Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS) allows an individual to make inquiries confidentially to police, where they have concerns that their partner has a history of abusive behaviour. This will enable them to make an informed choice about an existing personal relationship. An application can also be made by a third party who knows them and has concerns.
DVADS is similar to a scheme introduced in England and Wales, which is commonly referred to as ‘Clare’s Law’, and to a scheme introduced in Scotland.
Permanent Secretary at the Department of Justice, Nick Perry, said: “Violence or abuse in the home, in whatever form it takes, is wrong. It should never be tolerated; it should never be ignored; and it should never, ever be something a person should have to deal with alone.
“The Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme is aimed at helping to keep people safe. It will empower men and women to take informed decisions about an existing relationship. It will help prevent abuse and violence in the home by providing a safe and confidential channel offering support and guidance. Ultimately, this scheme will help to create a safe community where we respect the law and each other.
“I would encourage anyone to look for the signs of domestic violence and abuse, and to apply to the scheme if they are worried about the abusive history of their partner, or someone else’s.”
Working in partnership with other bodies, DVADS will be delivered by the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Public Protection Branch.
Discussing the new Scheme Detective Superintendent Ryan Henderson from the Public Protection Branch said: “We welcome the opportunity to have been involved in the development of this new scheme. An important part of our role as police officers is to prevent people from becoming victims and this will help to achieve that goal.
“Previously, it would have been difficult for someone entering a new relationship to find out or be aware if their new partner had any prior convictions for violence or domestic abuse.
“We respond to an incident of domestic abuse every 18 minutes. We know that domestic abuse is a frightening crime which can affect anyone often leaving them feeling isolated and alone. However, we know that many incidents of domestic abuse still go un-reported.
“Anyone suffering from domestic abuse is encouraged to contact their local police on the non-emergency 101 or in an emergency always call 999.”
Introduction of DVADS is considered a positive step forward in helping to address the abhorrent problem of domestic violence and abuse, which continues to blight our society.
It will help ensure that victims of domestic violence and abuse in Northern Ireland are afforded the same level of protection as those living in the rest of the United Kingdom.