Lawful, proportionate and necessary? A critical examination of the domestic abuse disclosure scheme for Scotland

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Abstract

This article critically examines Police Scotland’s Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland (DSDAS). The scheme establishes a “right to ask” and a “power to tell” individuals about their partner or ex-partner’s known history of abusive behaviour. In this article, we focus on three key aspects of DSDAS: its legal basis and accessibility, its understanding of “domestic abuse,” and its approach to defining the kinds of relationships where disclosures can be made under the policy. We identify ambiguities in all three aspects of the scheme, which we show departs in significant ways from the understandings of domestic abuse and qualifying relationships written into Scots law and policy. In contrast with the approach taken in England and Wales, we show the Scottish scheme does not currently permit police disclosures to be made after the “end” of a relationship – a concept which is itself significantly underdefined in the scheme guidance. We conclude with three practical recommendations for how these elements of the DSDAS scheme can be improved to enhance the accessibility, clarity and coherence of the disclosure policy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFeminists@law
Volume13
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Feb 2024

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