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Entries in Clare's Law (1)

Friday
Nov272015

FNFS AGM 2015 hears about new disclosure scheme for domestic abuse

A healthy turnout of members from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling attended the FNF Scotland 2015 annual general meeting last Thursday evening.  National manager Ian Maxwell conducted the business part of the meeting, presenting the annual report and accounts, and the other staff members John Forsyth and Alastair Williamson reported on their work during the past year.  

Four trustees were re-appointed. FNF Scotland's constitution allows for 6 trustees and expressions of interest in becoming a trustee are invited from individuals who have skills that would assist our further strategic development.

Chief Superintendant Barry McEwan of Police Scotland then gave a talk on the recently rolled out 'Clare's Law' in Scotland - more properly designated The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland - or the Right To Ask. 

He explained that the scheme enables an individual or a member of his/her family or friends who suspect that a new partner may be a danger in terms of domestic abuse can request a police search of available evidence about the new partner.  The request can be made through an online request form and Chief Superintendant McEwan indicated that over 200 have been made since the scheme went live across Scotland on October 1st. 

He stressed that the scheme is not there to "vet" a new partner at the request of  individual, family member or friend through the scheme but is there to deal with concerns around potential abusive behaviour and described the analysis of risk that the police, social work, housing, advocacy and other agencies make jointly at a Decision-making Forum, before deciding to disclose any information to an individual about the new partner. 

If the Decision-making forum assess that the individual in question has a recorded history of abusive behaviour; or there is other information to indicate risk, the Forum will consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the potential victim.

This will not include the person  who made a 3rd party initial application -such as a former partner - only individual or agencies who would be required to support the potential victim will be considered for receipt of the disclosure.  

If there are children in the household a disclosure could also be made to social work as part of the child protection process.

Chief Superintendent McEwan took questions about experience of the scheme from members present and on other issues that commonly are raised at group meetings. 

A key topic raised by various people was that of non-resident fathers who are exposed to the dangers of arrest when they turn up to collect their children for court-ordered contact and instead are subjected to abuse and a refusal to comply with the order. Many have spent the weekend in the cells instead of with their children. Their children may have seen them taken away in handcuffs. Even though charges are eventually dropped or they are acquitted in court many months may have passed with their contact with children disrupted or damaged. 

Chief Superintendent McEwan listened carefully and encouraged FNF Scotland to raise awareness with their members around ensuring that the best measures are in place for such contact, with consideration of a responsible person being present or  accompanying the non-resident father when collecting their child to protect/safeguard against allegations of wrongdoing, and the location of pick up and expected behaviour, to reduce potential disagreements at time of contact.  He further encouraged that FNF members raise their concerns with the current SG consultations on proposed changes to the criminal law.