DBS Checks and Clare’s Law

Have you heard of Clare’s Law? It’s a relatively new piece of legislation which was introduced in 2014. The proper name of the law is The Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme. The more common name for the law comes from Clare Wood, who was murdered by her violent partner in 2009. The idea behind the law is to give people the right to ask the police whether their partner has past convictions for violence. Usually, the person asking the police for help is a woman, but men can ask too. This all sounds very much like DBS checks, doesn’t it? However, there are some important differences in Clare’s Law.

How Clare’s Law Works

It’s not just partners who can ask the Police for information under Clare’s Law. Parents, friends or other relatives have the right to ask too. Usually the process is as follows:

  1. Contact the police and explain the situation. Give basic details such as your name and date of birth.
  2. Make an appointment to go to the police station to discuss further.
  3. Prove who you are by showing the police identity documents such as a passport.
  4. The police than have a maximum of 35 days to search their records and report back.

The main difference between this legislation and DBS checks and the types of information you might be given. Clare’s Law is purely about giving people information about violent, domestic crimes. The police may decide to disclose other information held on record, even if it didn’t lead to a conviction. Other crimes such as theft or fraud don’t fall under the banner of domestic violence, so won’t be disclosed. After the police have completed their checks, they might involve other agencies such as social services if needed. If serious concerns are raised about a partner, it’s the job of the police and other agencies to help you get out of the relationship and stay safe. However, they can’t force you to end a relationship if you do not wish to do so.

Difference with DBS Checks

The first main difference is that it is impossible to ask for a DBS check on a partner. Disclosure and Barring Service checks are only done in connection with specific jobs. The type of check will depend on the role involved. There is no law which allows you to ask the police for a criminal records check on a boyfriend or partner. If a partner has a DBS certificate for another purpose, this shouldn’t be taken as proof that they are squeaky clean either. There may be other issues in their past which are irrelevant for that particular job, but not when you’re living together.

The other main difference is that DBS checks look into the full criminal record of the individual concerned. Clare’s Law, as discussed above, is purely about domestic crimes. So if you require a DBS check for a job, the police will still go through a filtering process to decide what to disclose and what to keep confidential. Crimes committed against a partner might still be listed on a DBS certificate, depending on the circumstances.