What Are My Legal Rights

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Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law)

Right to ask

Under the scheme an individual can ask police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past. This is the ‘right to ask’. If records show that an individual may be at risk of domestic violence from a partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. A disclosure can be made if it is legal, proportionate and necessary to do so.

Right to know

This enables an agency to apply for a disclosure if the agency believes that an individual is at risk of domestic violence from their partner. Again, the police can release information if it is lawful, necessary and proportionate to do so.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs)

Alongside the disclosure scheme, the police and magistrates in England and Wales can also issue Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs).

These can be issued where there is not enough evidence to charge a perpetrator and provide protection to a victim via bail conditions.

A DVPO can prevent the perpetrator from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim some time to consider their options, with the help of a support agency.

How it works

The two–step process:

  1. On being called to an incident of domestic violence, if the police have reasonable grounds to believe the victim remains at risk, they can choose to issue an emergency Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN). The notice is effective from the time of issue, giving the victim the immediate protection.
  2. Within 48 hours of the DVPN being served, an application to a magistrates’ court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order must be made by the police and heard by the magistrates’ court. The initial notice continues until the court has reached a decision. If the court rules that the victim requires continued protection, they may issue a DVPO which would last for a minimum of 14 days, to a maximum of 28 days.
Rights of Women have a legal guide that sets out information about what happens once the perpetrator has been charged with a criminal offence.  The guide can be downloaded from From charge to trial: A guide to criminal proceedings | Rights of Women