MORE than 300 requests for information about potential abusers were handled by Dorset Police in a year.

Known as Clare’s Law, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme allows police to share someone’s criminal history with their current partner if they feel they are at risk.

There has been a rise in the number of people turning to the national scheme for information in the area, where domestic abuse rates have also grown since 2019.

Named in memory of Clare Wood, who was killed by a former partner police knew to be dangerous - Clare’s Law has two elements.

Right to Ask allows the public to request disclosure from police about a potential abuser while Right to Know sees officers seek permission to share information with someone about their partner.

Data from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services show Dorset officers submitted 162 applications in the year to March 2020 under Right to Know and 91 were approved in that time, the equivalent of 56%.

The public were less successful, with 148 Right to Ask applications submitted and 52 disclosures approved – around 35%.

Unsuccessful applications include those where there is nothing to disclose that do not meet the eligibility criteria or where the applicant withdraws the request.

Women’s Aid said the variation in disclosure rates for forces across England and Wales - ranging from 12% to over 80% for both parts of the scheme - show a ‘very worrying lack of consistency’ that could impact upon the safety of those at risk.

Decisions are taken by a multi-agency panel and applicants must sign confidentiality agreements before information is shared.

Disclosures are restricted to the suspected abuser’s partner, though a third party can apply on their behalf.

Information can be provided if the subject has been convicted, cautioned or reprimanded for violent or abusive offences or if safeguarding authorities hold intelligence to suggest they are a risk to their partner.

Sarah Davidge from Women’s Aid highlighted difficulties in prosecuting domestic abuse.

She said: “Most women do not report it to the police.

“The Right to Ask scheme enables people to ask for information to be shared if they are concerned their partner had been abusive in the past.

“In 2020, only 37% of applications to this scheme resulted in a disclosure.

“Many women worried about their partner’s behaviour received what may be perceived as confirmation that their partner’s previous behaviour was not a cause for concern.

“This can bring a false sense of security and a missed opportunity to offer support and signposting.”

Clare’s Law applications in Dorset increased from 245 in the year to March 2019 to 310, while the overall disclosure rate grew from 20% to 46%.

At the same time, the number of domestic abuse crimes in the area rose from 6,896 to 9,059.

National figures show more than 20,000 Clare’s Law requests were made in the year to March 2020. In 2019, there were just over 13,700.

Of those, applications from the public almost doubled, from around 6,500 in 2019 to just over 11,500.

However, disclosure rates across England and Wales dropped – the equivalent of 43% of applications resulted in disclosure in 2020, compared to 48% the previous year.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “As part of the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill we are putting the guidance on which the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme is based into statute.

“This will place a duty on the police to apply the guidance unless there is good reason not to and will strengthen the visibility and consistent operation of the scheme.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “We’ve been working hard to educate officers across the force about the application process and when applications are appropriate.

“The higher success rate for applications submitted by police on behalf of vulnerable members of the public is due to the fact we will only submit an application when we have information or intelligence that indicates there may be risk factors present, and we have detailed information about people involved.”

Statistics show the number of domestic abuse crimes in the area rose from 6,896 to 9,059, what is the police doing to tackle this?

“Tackling domestic abuse and supporting victims is a key priority for us.

“As part of our commitment to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, we have worked to improve our crime recording and increase confidence in reporting.

“This has resulted in an increased flagging of incidents as domestic abuse crimes as well as increased confidence of victims to come forward and report matters to police or partner agencies.

“We’re committed to working with partner agencies to ensure we provide the best possible service to victims of domestic abuse in Dorset and ensuring offenders are held accountable for their actions.”

“In Dorset we work closely with our partners to raise awareness of the Clare’s Law process and take a proactive approach so requests form part of a consideration for all domestic cases where there is a multi-agency risk assessment.

“We recognise there’s an increased awareness amongst the public of the scheme, largely as a result of promotion through charities and social media.”

For more information on help and advice around domestic abuse as well as details of agencies that can offer support visit

If abuse is in progress and someone is in immediate danger, call 999. Otherwise, please contact us at, via email or by calling 101. Crimes can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via its website at