The ‘policy spiral’ of Domestic Abuse Disclosure Schemes


7th May 2020, 12.30pm – 2pm

Event type

Online seminar

Event Description

Media narratives and political considerations are driving police forces in the UK and in a number of Commonwealth countries to adopt Domestic Abuse Disclosure Schemes. These Schemes operate on the premise that police disclosures to people at risk, concerning past intimate partner violence on the part of perpetrators, will keep possible or current victims safer – as those at risk will be “empowered to make informed choices” (Home Office, 2019) to excise an offender from their personal lives. This raises a number of concerns about the human rights of victims of domestic violence from a vulnerabilities perspective (Duggan and Grace, 2018). 
The proto-Scheme in England and Wales, widely known as ‘Clare’s Law’, was piloted from 2012, and was made a national policy from 2014, before evolving through updated Home Office guidance in 2016 – and might now be placed on a statutory footing via the Domestic Abuse Bill (2020). Similar Schemes operate on subtly different legal bases in each part of the common law world where they are operated; in Scotland, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, and parts of Australia and Canada. However, some jurisdictions have considered and rejected such Schemes, such as Queensland in Australia, or have produced little persuasive evidence as to their effectiveness – while in the UK there is arguably reluctance on the part of policymakers to engage with extensive evaluation of the efficacy of this public protection approach. Undeniably, prevention of homicide through the workings of a Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme is a means of fulfilling positive obligations to victims under human rights standards – but this seminar will also explore the extent to which such Schemes match Clive Walker’s model of the ‘policy spiral’: “a policy which lacks clear initial purpose or subsequent direction, progression, control and reflection” (Walker, 2018: 726).

Seminar host:

Jamie Grace (Sheffield Hallam University and IALS Visiting Fellow)


• Marian Duggan & Jamie Grace, ‘Assessing vulnerabilities in the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme’, (2018) 2 Child and Family Law Quarterly 145
• Home Office, Domestic Abuse Bill Factsheet on the DVDS, November 2019, online.
• Clive Walker, ‘Counter-terrorism and counter-extremism: the UK policy spirals’, (2018) Public Law, Oct, 725-747


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