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Women ‘face Clare’s Law postcode lottery’

Thousands of women are reportedly at serious risk of harm because police forces are failing to hand over potentially lifesaving information under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.

Official data shows 56% of the 20,226 requests for background checks on potential domestic abusers were rejected during the six months to March 2022, the Independent newspaper reported.

Domestic abuse solicitor Rachel Horman-Brown said failures to disclose information under Clare’s Law can put women’s lives at risk.

“Sometimes they are told, ‘You have separated from him; you don’t need to know.’ But separations in the context of domestic abuse are often not linear. Victims will often go back to their perpetrators.”

Academic Dr Charlotte Barlow, who specialises in domestic abuse, described Clare’s Law as a postcode lottery with far more money invested in the scheme in some areas than others.

Survivors sometimes wait months for a disclosure about a partner, while the recommended waiting time of 28 days is too long, she added.

Former justice secretary Robert Buckland called for an independent review into the scheme, saying: “I am less than trusting in the system, and want reassurance that … applications have not just been dismissed in a summary way, that they have been considered seriously, even if no disclosure is made.

“I think there should be a review to make sure the processes are being adhered to in a proper way, bearing in mind what happened in Wiltshire.” The county’s police has reviewed thousands of applications related to failure to disclose information. Three people may have been harmed as a result.

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