The right to ask. The right to know. This is the sentiment of Clare's Law, named after a similar piece of legislation from the United Kingdom, which authorizes a police protocol to disclose risk information related to someone's violent or abusive past to intimate partners whose safety may be threatened.
The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol known as the Clare's Law Act came into force in Saskatchewan yesterday.
Protecting victims of domestic abuse by allowing them to learn about their partners' history through a framework that enables applicants who believe they may be at risk from an intimate partner to be given disclosure by police on the partner's domestic violence history.
"I think that this is huge, for the province, and for interpersonal violence prevention," said Christa Daku, Executive Director for Envision Counseling and Support Centre. "There's been talk about this with the different agencies that work with domestic violence survivors, for quite some time now, and I'm really pleased that they've taken it seriously and put it into legislation."
Saskatchewan was the first province in Canada to introduce Clare's Law in 2018.
However, the RCMP are currently unable to enforce the protocols.
"I anticipate that hopefully the RCMP will jump on board, at some point, but they have different regulations with the federal guidelines," Daku noted.
"We are definitely excited to have the opportunity around this additional prevention," she said.
"I always say, when people come in, they have a gut feeling, you know? And, if something is off in that relationship, chances are, it's off. And it's important for them to be able to access that information if they have reason to," shared Daku.
The initiative began in the U.K. in 2014, and is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said in a press release, 'if this legislation helps protect even just one person, it's a success'.
The Ministries of Justice and Attorney General, and Corrections and Policing, worked in conjunction with the Provincial Association of Transition Houses (PATHS) and the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police (SACP) to create and approve the Interpersonal Violence and Disclosure Protocol.
PATHS Executive Director Jo-Anne Dusel said that they applaud the government of Saskatchewan for being the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce Clare’s Law.
"By encouraging law enforcement agencies to share risk information with potential victims and giving an opportunity for those at risk, and, the people who care for them, to ask for information about the past history of violent behavior of a new or potential partner, Clare's Law takes a proactive approach to preventing intimate partner violence."
The Government of Saskatchewan is focused on reducing and preventing domestic violence through ongoing collaboration with provincial partners and other ministries.
In 2020-21, the Ministries of Justice and Attorney General, and Corrections and Policing, will provide more than $21.5 million in funding for prevention and intervention services, including funding domestic violence transition houses, sexual assault centres and family outreach services.