326 checks carried out in the last year through the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme

Date published: 26 March 2019

Over 326 applications have been made to the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme (DVADS) in Northern Ireland, since its introduction one year ago. To date, 40 people, identified as being at risk, have been advised about their partner’s abusive past.

The scheme, operated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, in conjunction with statutory and voluntary partners allows a potential victim to receive information on their partner’s history of abusive behaviour in terms of the risk they pose, enabling them to make an informed choice about their relationship.

Anthony Harbinson, Director of the Department of Justice’s Safer Communities Directorate said “I welcome the take up of the disclosure scheme and the courage of those coming forward to make an enquiry.   Domestic violence and abuse is a serious problem within Northern Ireland’s society and we remain committed to tackling it through implementation of the joint Department of Justice and Department of Health seven year strategy.

He continued: I am also encouraged by the proactive steps being taken by police and partner organisations in making their own enquiries through the scheme.

“We will continue to work in partnership with PSNI and our statutory and voluntary sector colleagues to help create a safe community where we respect the law and each other” 

Discussing the first anniversary of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Disclosure Scheme Detective Superintendent Ryan Henderson from Police Service Public Protection Branch said: “I am extremely proud that we now have this Scheme in place across Northern Ireland.  This Scheme shows that as a society we say there is no place for domestic abuse or no hiding place for domestic abusers.

“The Scheme is different because it focuses on preventing people from becoming victims. Abusers can often move from relationship to relationship leaving a trail of abuse which the Scheme stops from remaining hidden.

“One year on from the launch I am pleased to see the uptake in the number of people who have come forward to apply.  This has surpassed our expectations and shows the Scheme has a vital part to play in tackling domestic abuse.

“My message one year on is that the Scheme works and I would encourage anyone who feels that it is right for them to use it. “

Applications can be made via the Police Service Website

During 2018, there were over 31,000 domestic violence and abuse incidents reported to police, with almost 16,000 crimes committed.  Further, there are, on average, around six murders a year committed with a domestic abuse motivation. Approximately 70% of all victims of domestic abuse are female, with around 30% male.

Hear more about the scheme from DS Ryan Henderson on Justice-NI/Youtube channel 

Notes to editors: 

  1. The DVADS initiative originates from the seven year joint Department of Justice/Department of Health Strategy ‘Stopping Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse in Northern Ireland’, which published in March 2016.
  2. The ‘Right to Ask’ strand of the scheme  is non-statutory, but underpinned by existing law which enables police to disclose relevant information in order to prevent crime. 
  3. Applications can only be made via the PSNI website at  information alternatively via the nidirect website
  4. The ‘Power to Tell’ provision allows police to act on information that may come to their attention by other means.  As with the ‘Right to Ask’, police will assess the degree of risk and act accordingly.
  5. Disclosure made will be on a general basis, indicating a risk to the person, rather than specifying the detail of any previous offence. This follows a number of stringent checks made by police together with participating statutory and voluntary sector partners.
  6. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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