Does your partner have a history of Domestic Abuse?
Now you can find out
Domestic abuse can take many forms. It can include threatening, controlling or coercive behaviour, and involve emotional, psychological or financial manipulation. Sometimes there is physical, verbal or sexual violence.
What’s more, it occurs in all kinds of relationships, at all ages and in all kinds of households. You may not even realise at first that you’re a victim. But if you are worried that your partner may have a history of violent or abusive behaviour, now you have the right to ask.
The Department of Justice works to create a safer community where we respect the law and each other. The Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS) has one purpose: to help keep people safe. It allows you to ask the police, in confidence, about your partner’s past behaviour, and find out whether you may be at risk.
DVADS works in two ways:
Right to Ask
This means you (or a family member or a friend who has concerns) can make a direct application to PSNI for information about your partner. You’ll need to complete a form, which can be found at psni.police.uk/crime/domestic-abuse/dvads/, which is then submitted electronically to PSNI.
PSNI will then make initial checks on its systems and will arrange a face-to-face meeting with you, to obtain further information. Officers will also undertake further checks on their systems and obtain relevant information from partner agencies. A multi-agency forum – made up of key safeguarding agencies – will recommend whether disclosure should be made. If the police decide to make a disclosure, officers will discreetly let the person at risk know (not a third party applicant, unless they are considered best placed to protect them). You’ll have a chance to discuss the information further in private, of course – and if necessary, agree a safety plan to help and support you.
Power to Tell
If the police receive indirect information about your partner that suggests a history of domestic abuse and that you are at risk, they will look into it. DVADS formalises their power to tell you – even if you haven’t asked for the information yourself.
Under both the ‘Right to Ask’ and the ‘Power to Tell’, all disclosures must be treated as confidential and only used for the purpose of protecting you.
If you need to speak to the police, you can contact PSNI on 101. In an emergency, always call 999.
If you would like more information on DVADS, visit nidirect.gov.uk/see-the-signs.
For more information on domestic abuse and the support available, there are several free independent organisations you can contact:
24-hour domestic and sexual violence helpline
Freephone: 0808 802 1414
Text: ‘support’ to 07797 805839
Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland
Phone: 028 9024 9041
Victim Support Northern Ireland
Phone: 028 9024 4039
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Men’s Advisory Project Northern Ireland
Phone: 028 9024 1929 (Belfast) or 028 7116 0001 (Foyle)
Men’s Action Network
Phone: 028 71 37 7777