Two domestic violence schemes that were successfully piloted by Wiltshire Police, alongside partner agencies, are being introduced nationally by Home Secretary Theresa May this weekend.
From tomorrow, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) will be active in every police force across England and Wales.
The roll-out coincides with International Women’s Day – a global event celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. It also ties in with the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) week of action around Domestic Abuse, which has been actively promoted by Wiltshire Police.
The Home Secretary announced her intention to implement the schemes in November last year following the pilot scheme of both the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme and Domestic Violence Protection Orders in a number of forces, including Wiltshire.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) – often known as ‘Clare’s Law’ – was first piloted in Wiltshire in July 2012.
Three other police force areas – Greater Manchester, Gwent and Nottinghamshire – then also began trialling the scheme from September 2012.
The DVDS introduced recognised and consistent multi-agency processes to enable a disclosure to be made to the public containing information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner where this may help protect them from further domestic abuse.
Since the scheme was first piloted in Wiltshire, a total of 168 applications for disclosure have been made in the county with 51 disclosures having been granted. These include 52 ‘Right to Ask’ and 116 ‘Right to Know’ applications.
Wiltshire Police also piloted Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs).
It was one of three police force areas – alongside Greater Manchester and West Mercia – to trial the scheme which ensures that perpetrators of domestic violence are banned from molesting a victim, or going near their home, for up to 28 days.
Since the start of the Home Office-led pilot in Wiltshire – which began in July 2011 – a total of 265 DVPOs have been applied for to court with 225 of those granted.
Pat Geenty, Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, said: “I am delighted that the Home Office have implemented both of these schemes and proud that Wiltshire Police, alongside our partners, were able to play such a significant role during their pilot phases.
"I now hope we are able to lend our experiences to other forces across England and Wales.
“It is important to point out that these schemes are not the final solution to tackling domestic abuse.
"They are just two further tools that we are using to help both victims and future victims of this crime and, as a force, we remain committed to targeting the perpetrators of domestic abuse.”
Angus Macpherson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “Domestic abuse should have no place in our society, and yet it is still going on behind closed doors in our towns and villages.
“Whether the abuse is physical, psychological or financial it is totally unacceptable in this day and age. The national roll-out of the two schemes after successful Wiltshire pilots is to be applauded.”
Keith Humphries, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “Domestic abuse impacts on many people's lives, with up to one in four women and one in six men being affected by one of the many forms during their lifetime.
"It is often referred to as the hidden crime as victims are so fearful of reporting what is happening to them, they may not even tell family and friends.
"We welcome the roll out of these schemes that will further support and protect victims."
Maggie Rae, who chairs Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership, said: “It is so important to remind people there is help out there and not to suffer in silence but to have the courage to speak out.
"Ensuring we have a range of support options available is very important and will empower victims to make choices to keep themselves safe."
For more information on either scheme, contact Wiltshire Police Domestic Abuse Investigation Teams on 101. There is also the facility to leave information anonymously.
Anyone who knows someone who is living with the effects of domestic abuse, can seek support by contacting Wiltshire Police.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be contacted on 0808 2000 247 (freephone in partnership with Women's Aid and Refuge), Swindon 24 Hour Helpline 01793 610610 or visit www.speakoutwiltshire.com