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  • Writer's pictureKathy Rolfe

What is Clare's Law and Why is it Important to Albertans?

Kathy here, and my first blog of the year is about an important topic that is near and dear to my heart. Clare’s Law is a piece of legislation that every person who is involved in a romantic relationship should know about should they (or their friends or family members) develop concerns for their safety.  Much of this information is taken from the Clare’s Law website at https://clares-law.com.


Read along to learn more about Clare's Law and to hear about my personal inquiries regarding this law.


What is Clare’s Law?

A graphic that reads, "Clare’s Law, aka the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) is a police policy giving people the right to know if their current or ex-partner has any previous history of violence or abuse."

Clare’s Law is a law that originated in 2014 in the United Kingdom and Wales, followed by Scotland in 2016, and has since been adopted worldwide. Canada adopted Clare’s Law in 2021. It allows any person – a partner, friend, or family member - to request information about a romantic partner’s criminal history. This may be a current relationship, or one that has ended but safety concerns remain. 


Why is it Called "Clare’s Law"?

Clare’s Law was established by Michael Brown to honor his daughter Clare Wood, who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend who had a history of intimate partner violence. Micheal believes that Clare would be alive today should she have been aware of his violent past. 


What are My Rights?

There are 2 rights under Clare’s law:

  1. The Right to Ask: You as the individual who is in a potentially dangerous/ abusive relationship have a right to submit a request to gather information about your partner/ ex-partner. Should you be a friend or family member, the police may choose to disclose the information directly to your loved one who is in the relationship, or they may disclose it to you personally. 

  2. The Right to Know: Should the police become involved in a situation where police checks indicate that there is a history of abusive behavior/intimate partner violence, the police can proactively disclose this information to you without you requesting the information first. The police are permitted to do so to prevent potential harm. 


What is the Definition of Domestic Abuse?

Abuse can take many forms – physical, psychological, emotional, mental, financial/ economic, sexual, verbal, harassment, stalking, threats of violence, degrading behavior, or violent behavior toward objects or animals, and/or online or digital harassment/abuse. 


How Do I Apply?

In Alberta, you can gather more information on the Alberta Government website: https://www.alberta.ca/clares-law


And apply for the information using this link which is also attached to the above link: https://clareslaw.alberta.ca/clp?id=right_to_ask&sys_id=-1


Personal Account


A photo of the Parkland police station in Spruce Grove, Alberta. Photo credit: City of Spruce Grove.

For reasons that will be discussed in a future post, I became interested in Clare’s Law and wanted to know if this was simply a well–intentioned piece of legislation that was in place but was not something that law enforcement knew about in Alberta. In this, I ran a small experiment:


  1. I connected with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) general complaint line and asked if they could assist me in accessing information about Clare’s Law. While the officer on the other end of the phone did not seem overly familiar with the legislation, it was clear that he took my inquiry seriously and looked it up as we spoke. He provided me with the correct website and offered me a lot of information about how to access this information - including how to fill out the form. Well done EPS! 

  2. I attended the front counter of the Parkland County/ Stony Plain/ Spruce Grove (all one building) RCMP detachment for another matter, and while I was there, I asked the two lovely ladies who were not police officers at the front counter who were helping me if they were aware of Clare’s law. The one person immediately knew about Clare’s Law and together they provided me with a great deal of information including the phone numbers for the RCMP Spousal Violence Team and for Victim Services. They advised me that upon calling either of these numbers I would be provided with further information. Again – well done RCMP!

It was important to me to know whether this very important piece of legislation is something that can be easily accessed, and it certainly is! 


For any of you out there who are in a situation where you or someone that you care about is involved in a potentially or actual domestic violence relationship, please access this information – it may help save a life. 


 

About Balance Psychological Services

Balance Psychological Services is a psychological private practice aimed toward healing, growth, and balance. Our mission is to ensure that every person who walks through our doors feels seen and accepted for exactly who they are, no matter the circumstances they are facing. With offices conveniently located in Stony Plain, Edmonton, and Beaumont, we are here and ready to help you find your balance.


Disclaimer

Information provided through Balance Psychological Services' blog posts is meant for educational purposes only. This is NOT medical or mental health advice. If you are seeking mental health advice, please contact us directly at (587) 985-3132.

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