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What is the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS)?

The DVADS gives members of the public a 'Right to Ask', a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.

The concerned relative or friend will not, under normal circumstances, receive any information on the person causing concern. If a disclosure is deemed necessary, lawful and proportionate, the person potentially at risk will receive the information or the person best placed to safeguard that individual (in exceptional circumstances only).

The scheme also creates a formal mechanism for the Police Service of Northern Ireland to tell both men and women, who are potentially at risk of abuse from their partner, about that partner’s past where a proactive decision is made to consider disclosing the information in order to protect a potential victim.

If Police checks show that the individual has a record of abusive behaviour, or there is other information to indicate you, or the person you know may be at risk from their new partner, the Police will consider sharing this information with the person at risk.

The aim of this scheme is to increase public safety and afford victims of domestic abuse, in all its forms, with better protection by enabling potential victims to make an informed choice on whether to continue the relationship. It also provides help and support to assist individuals when making that choice.

What do we mean by domestic abuse?

This scheme relates to the risk of harm from domestic abuse. Harm is physical or psychological, which is reasonably likely to cause a person to suffer fear, alarm and distress, but which must be more than transient and trifling. 

You have a 'Right to Ask'

The 'Right to Ask' is the powerful message behind this scheme. The Police Service of Northern Ireland is empowering both men and women who are potential victims of domestic abuse and / or their concerned friends and family, with the right to ask about the new partner. In the past, it could have been difficult for someone entering a new relationship to find out or be aware if their new partner had prior convictions for violence or domestic abuse.

The police will make contact with the applicant to discuss their concerns and ask for more information as well as confirming their identity during a face to face meeting.

Who is the form for?

This form is for use for anyone who wants to apply to the scheme either for themselves or another person. It is for both members of the Public and other professionals. It is not for use by police officers under the 'Power To Tell' Scheme.

The application form is for the Northern Ireland Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure scheme only.

Complete a Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme application.

What if I live outside Northern Ireland?

If you live outside Northern Ireland and are worried about your new partner you should contact your local Police Service for information.

If you live in Scotland there is a very similar scheme called the ‘Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland’.

If you live in England and Wales there is a very similar scheme called the ‘Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as ‘Clare’s law’).

If you are a concerned relative or friend of someone who resides in Northern Ireland you can make an application to the ‘Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme’ in Northern Ireland.

How will your information be used? 

The personal information provided in this form will be used by Police to identify individuals at risk. We conduct checks of our own records and may also share the information with partner agencies as their information may assist us. If we believe a child is at risk, we will inform the relevant Social Services Trust.

What will happen once I submit this form?

Once you submit the form you will have formally applied to the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme for Northern Ireland only. PSNI will process the application – including conducting checks and meeting with you, the applicant.

At the end of the process a decision will be made as to whether or not a disclosure will be made.

Additional powers and tools

There are other policing powers and tools that can help safeguard victims and prevent perpetrating behaviours.

  • A court can give an offender a VOPO to protect the public if there’s a risk the offender could cause serious violent harm. The order places restrictions on the offender's behaviour. A court can give a VOPO to adult and juvenile offenders. A VOPO can be made against someone who is convicted of a specified offence, found not guilty of specified offence by reason of insanity or found to be unfit to be tried.

  • If you are a victim of domestic abuse you can apply to the court for an NMO which is intended to protect a victim and relevant children from being harassed, pestered, intimidated or from any threat of such behaviour. An application can be made in an emergency capacity (ex parte) or where the offender is given notice of the hearing (inter parte). A victim may also qualify for an Occupation Order - this order sets out the parameters / terms by which the offender will be restricted from entering or residing in the home and must leave the property upon service of the same on them.

  • Short focused meeting with the aim to increase safety for those who are experiencing or have been exposed to domestic abuse. Those who are referred to MARAC include those where there has been an escalation in offending behaviour, where there has been a referral on professional judgement or where they are deemed to be HIGH RISK due to their scoring on the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment risk assessment (DASH).