Making an Application About Your Partner
This information is for you if you are in a relationship and are worried that your partner may have been abusive in the past.
What is the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland?
The aim of this scheme is to give you a formal mechanism to make inquiries about your partner if you are worried they have been abusive in the past.
If police checks show your partner has a record of violent behaviour; or there is other information to indicate that you may be at risk from your partner, the police will consider sharing this information with you.
The scheme aims to help you to make a more informed decision on whether to continue a relationship, and provides further help and support to assist you when making that choice.
Who can ask for a disclosure?
A disclosure under this scheme is the sharing of specific information about your partner with either you or a third person for the purposes of protecting you from domestic abuse.
- You can make an application about your partner if you have a concern they may harm you;
- Any concerned third party, such as your parent, relative, neighbour or friend can also make an application if they are concerned about you;
- However, a third party person making an application would not ordinarily receive information about your partner. It may be more appropriate for someone else to receive the information, such as you, or a person in a position to protect you from the abuse.
- Information will only be given to someone who is in a position to use the information to protect you from the abuse.
Step One - How do I make an application?
Contacting the police
There are a number of different ways you can contact the police. You can:
- go ‘online’ to www.scotland.police.co.uk;
- visit a police office;
- phone 101 the non emergency number for the police; or
- speak to a member of the police on the street
If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.
Step Two: Initial contact with the police
When you contact the police, a police officer or member of police staff will take the details of what prompted your enquiry and the nature of your relationship with your partner.
They will also ask you when and where it is safe to make contact with you again.
You will also need to give your name, address, date of birth and other details. At a later stage, you will need to provide proof of your identity.
The police will run some initial checks based on the information you have provided and conduct an initial risk assessment.
The purpose of these initial checks is for the police to establish if there are any immediate concerns.
These checks will not be undertaken while you are present.
If when speaking to the police you allege a crime against your partner - for example, you tell them that your partner has hit you, then police will investigate this as a crime and may arrest your partner.
No disclosure of information will take place at this stage unless it is necessary to provide immediate protection to you.
If the police believe that you are at risk and in need of protection from harm, they will take immediate action.
Step Three: Face to face meeting to complete the application
Depending on the outcome of Step Two, you may then be required to participate in a face to face meeting with the police. This meeting will be to establish further details about your application in order to assess any risk and for you to provide proof of your identity. This should comprise of a photo ID and another form of ID (if photo ID is not available, the police will consider other forms of ID).
The forms of ID that could be used are:
- Your passport
- Your driving licence
- Some other trusted form of photo identification
- Your birth certificate (including authorised extract copies)
- A household utility bill (council tax, water, gas, electricity)
- A bank statement
These documents must be originals. Unfortunately copies cannot be accepted.
The police will then use the meeting to gather more information from you about the nature of the relationship between you and your partner to help the police decide if you are at risk of domestic abuse. The police will run checks and speak to other agencies including Social Work Departments and Prison Service, based on the
information you give them.
They will work as quickly as possible to complete the checks but, depending on the circumstances, some checks may take longer for the results to be received by the police.
It is envisaged that the maximum time that it will take to complete the whole process, including these and the disclosure of information if decided necessary, is 45 days.
The police will act immediately if at any point they consider you to be risk and in need of protection from harm.
Step Four: Multi-agency meeting to consider disclosure
The police will meet with relevant partner agencies (such as Social Work Services, Prison Service, Domestic Abuse Advocates/Advisors) to discuss the information that you have given them, along with
additional information the police may have received from the checks they have run, and any relevant information from the agencies they have talked to.
The multi agency meeting will then decide whether any disclosure is lawful, necessary and proportionate to protect you from your partner. If they decide to disclose information, they will decide who should receive the information and set up a safety plan tailored to your needs to provide you with help and support.
Step Five: Potential disclosure
What kind of information you might be given
If the checks show that your partner has a record of violent offences or there is other information that indicates there is a pressing need to make a disclosure to prevent further crime, the police may disclose this information to you or to a person who is more able to protect you.
A person’s previous convictions are treated as confidential and the information will only be disclosed if it is lawful and proportionate, and there is a pressing need to make the disclosure to prevent further crime.
If the checks do not show that there is a pressing need to make a disclosure to prevent further crime, the police will tell you that. This may be because your partner does not have a record of violent offences or there is no information held to indicate they pose a risk of harm to you. Or it may be that some information is held on your partner but this is not sufficient to demonstrate a pressing need for disclosure.
It may be the case that your partner is not known to the police for violent offences or there is insufficient information to indicate they pose a risk of harm to you but they are showing worrying behaviour. In this case, the police or other support agency can work to protect you by providing advice and support.
The Police - Power to Tell
Under the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland, you may receive a disclosure even if you have not asked for one. That is because, if the police receive information about your partner which they consider puts you at risk of harm of domestic abuse, then they may consider disclosing that information to you.
The decision to disclose information when you have not asked for a disclosure will be made by the multi agency meeting, and the disclosure will only be made if it is lawful and proportionate, and there is a pressing need to make the disclosure to prevent further crime.
You should be aware that police checks or any disclosures made are not a guarantee of safety. They will, however, make sure you are aware of what local and national support is available.
After you are given information
Can I tell my family and friends about this? I really need to talk to someone.
If you receive information, it should be treated as confidential. It is only being given to you so that you can take steps to protect yourself. You must not share this information with anyone else unless you have spoken to the police, or person who gave you the information, and they have agreed with you that it will be shared.
Subject to the condition that the information is kept confidential, you can;
- Use the information to keep yourself safe;
- Use the information to keep any children involved in the situation safe;
- Ask what support is available;
- Ask for advice on how to keep yourself and others safe.
The police may decide not to give you information if they think that you will discuss it with others. However, the police will still take steps to protect you if you are at risk of harm.
The police may take action against you if the information is disclosed without their consent, which could include civil or criminal proceedings. You should be aware that it is an offence (under section 170 of the Data Protection Act 2018) for a person knowingly or recklessly to obtain or disclose personal data without the consent of the controller, to procure the disclosure of personal data to another person without the consent of the controller, or after obtaining personal data, to retain it without the consent of the person who was the controller in relation to the personal data when it was obtained.
If no disclosure is made but you still have concerns and want further information about protecting yourself, there is action you can take to protect yourself in the future.
The police can provide you with information and advice on how to protect yourself and how to recognise the warning signs of domestic abuse. There is also a number of specialist services and organisations providing information about domestic abuse, how to spot it and how authorities work to intervene.
You can contact Police Scotland on 101. In an emergency always ring 999
If you would like additional help and support on domestic abuse
then you can contact any of the following national helplines:
Scottish Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0800 027 1234
Rape Crisis Scotland - 08088 01 03 02
Men’s Advice Line - 0808 801 0327
Abused Men in Scotland - 0808 800 0024
Scottish Women's Aid - Advice and Information
You can also ask the police for information on specialist services and organisations that exist where you live.