Wear a white ribbon to show opposition to domestic abuse
This Sunday (November 25) marks White Ribbon Day - the internationally recognised day when people are asked to wear a white ribbon to signal their opposition to any form of domestic abuse.
West Mercia Police is using White Ribbon Day to raise awareness of The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) or “Clare's Law” as it is known.
The scheme is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. He had a history of domestic abuse. Clare, however, was unaware of it.
The scheme gives people a formal way to apply for a police check into the past of a person where there is a concern that a relationship may be or may become abusive.
It is available to anyone in a relationship or people who have concerns for another individual who is in a relationship.
Launched in 2014, 564 people in West Mercia have used their “Right to Ask” the police whether a new or existing partner (either their own or a friend or relative's) might have a violent past, with 246 disclosures being made.
For further information about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme or to make a request for information under it, contact West Mercia Police by either visiting your nearest police station or calling 101. You can also find more information at https://www.westmercia.police.uk/domesticabuse
The applicant will need to give their name, address and date of birth and some initial checks will be done to establish if there are any immediate concerns.
Following initial contact with the police, a face-to-face meeting might be set up to complete the application, if deemed appropriate.
That meeting will establish further details about the application in order to assess risk and confirm identity.
If a professional has concerns about a person at risk of domestic abuse, they can make a request for disclosure, known as the Right to Know.
In West Mercia, 207 disclosures have been made under Right to Know.
Working alongside partner agencies, the police will work as quickly as possible to complete checks, a multi-agency panel will check every request for Right to Ask and Right to Know to make sure it is necessary and proportionate and, if so, will decide who to disclose the information to and set up a safety plan tailored to their needs.
Head of Vulnerability and Safeguarding, Det Spt Richard Long for West Mercia Police said: "Domestic abuse is a deplorable and debilitating crime, which can cause lasting damage to individuals, children and families.
"The offender may try to control the victim by removing their confidence and freedom, often by the use of threats, intimidation and violence.
"Clare's Law is an opportunity for people to take back control and make the right decision on whether they are at any risk by staying in that relationship.
"Domestic violence and abuse is a serious and complex issue and one which our force and all forces nationally treat as a priority."
Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia Police, John Campion, said: "Inflicting any kind of harm, be it emotional, physical or psychological, is simply not acceptable and it is a priority for me as commissioner, the police service and the services I have invested in to do all we can to tackle this.
"This is a complex issue, which needs a multi-faceted approach, ensuring victims are put first, the police have the understanding and resources to address it effectively, we are targeting the issue at the root by disrupting and changing behaviour and raising awareness through important campaigns like White Ribbon."
Across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin you can contact the West Mercia Women's Aid (WMWA) Helpline. It is free from all landlines and is confidential. The WMWA Helpline is a - service, and operates seven days a week.
The numbers are:
Worcestershire - 0800 980 3331.
Hereford/Shropshire/Telford - 0800 783 1359.
West Mercia Women's Aid (WMWA) is the leading pan-regional specialist organisation working with victims of domestic abuse.
WMWA services include safe and secure emergency accommodation in refuge and safe houses, 24-hour Helpline for those seeking immediate telephone advice and support, community-based support for those surviving abuse, group programmes and peer support networks and specific safety planning and support through the legal process for those regarded as “high risk”.
The Men's Advice Line provides advice and support for men in violent relationships. They can be contacted on 0808 801 0327 or via their website, http://www.mensadviceline.org.uk/
You can also call West Mercia Police on 101 (always call 999 in an emergency).