This article is later than I wanted it to be, however, it follows on from the article I last wrote in relation to domestic incidents.
In my last article, you may remember that I wrote about Clare`s Law (Right to Know and Right to Ask) where a person, or someone they know who has a close interest in their welfare, can either request information about their partner, or a disclosure by the authorities can be made, in respect of any criminal past that they do not know about.
This law is very important in safeguarding victims of domestic abuse who may not otherwise be aware of someone`s violent or controlling past.
Clare`s Law can be applied for at any time, however, it usually will follow a domestic incident where the police or another agency has become aware of one.
If a police officer attends a domestic incident where violence has been used or threatened, then once they know who is involved, then through careful questioning of the victim it can be established whether they knew about their partner`s criminal past, particularly where they are known to the authorities for domestic abuse.
When police attend a domestic incident, where a disclosure is made that any level of violence or threat of violence has been used or made, then an arrest will be made.
The reason why people are arrested is to create a period of safety for the victim and for the police to properly assess the situation.
In cases where the victim supports the investigation into any offences, Clare`s Law can still be used because there are many relationships that will continue after the police involvement, even when someone is cautioned or convicted.
Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders (DVPN and DVPO) are applied for by the police when someone has been arrested and in police custody and there is a strong possibility that no action will follow through a lack of evidence.
The purpose of a DVPN / DVPO is for a protective period to be created once someone has left custody with no action taken against them, where they would be free to return to the home of the victim or continue to see them.
DVPN / DVPO`s were introduced in all police force areas in 2014 under the Crime and Security Act and they provide an emergency protection for victims in the immediate period after any domestic incident.
During this protective period, the victim will have time to consider whether they wish to continue with the relationship; a disclosure under Clare`s Law can be made during this period where the victim can make an informed choice about their relationship.
However, DVPN / DVPO`s are not there just for a Clare`s Law disclosure; they are there so that victims who may wish to escape from an abusive relationship where they are fully aware of the situation, can have time to seek support from a multi-agency approach, where they may need to find alternative accommodation or arrange childcare, to name a couple of examples.
If a protective period is not created, then a perpetrator of domestic abuse will return to the home and not only is the risk heightened, but they can encourage the victim to allow them back into their lives, giving the victim no time to properly consider what they want for their future.
The process for this will be the service of DVPN at the time someone is released from police custody. This Notice will last for 48 hours, preventing that person from attending the victim`s home, having contact with them or getting the victim to leave the home, therefore it serves as an eviction notice to the abuser, requiring them to leave the home too.
During the 48 hour period, the police apply to have the case heard in a Magistrates Court, which is a civil and not a criminal hearing. The application is for a DVPO, where the Order will replace the Notice, if granted and it can last for a period not exceeding 28 days.
The period of up to 28 days is thought to be enough time for a victim to do certain necessary things, like find alternative accommodation or perhaps apply for a Non-Molestation Order, which can be in place for when the DVPO expires.
DVPO`s are an excellent way to protect someone who simply wants to end a violent relationship, but they do not want to support a prosecution or there is insufficient evidence to charge someone or bail them.
It is often described as a tool to `fill the gap` where a protective period is created and for someone to seek help and support in moving on from domestic violence.
The legislation is often criticised because it literally keeps someone away from their home and sometimes family, where no finding of guilt has occurred, however, the information supplied to the court will have to be credible and corroborated, therefore where DVPO`s are granted, there can be reassurance that there is sound information and reason for it.