A critical evaluation of professional opinion on the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) pilot

Coles, Tatiana (2014) A critical evaluation of professional opinion on the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) pilot. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Domestic abuse has been in existence throughout the world going back into history. Domination of patriarchal society and a victim-blaming attitude of the early victimology were responsible for the wide spread of domestic abuse. Despite not being a criminal offence, domestic abuse embraces a number of behaviours that range in the extreme, ruining lives and relationships, breaking up families and having a long-lasting impact affecting all sections of society. The latter part of the 20th century saw rising domestic abuse high on the government agenda, with the development of new legislation, availability of help and support for the victims and significant improvements in police responses. However, despite these changes in the attitude towards domestic abuse it still has not been eliminated. A number of failures on the part of the police to ensure safety and protection of the victims, where the risk was apparent, resulted in potentially preventable death and serious harm inflicted on the victims by their partners. The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) was introduced as a pilot in 2012 anticipating an alternative way of managing domestic abuse by informing a potential victim – either through a ‘right to ask’ or a ‘right to know’ route – of their partner’s violent past leaving them with a choice on how to take their relationship further.
    This dissertation offers a critical evaluation of professional opinion of DVDS in the police forces that were involved in the pilot. Qualitative primary data collection is used to examine a number of different areas involved in operating the scheme, including whether the scheme is capable of achieving its stated intentions and whether there have been any learning points identified that could be addressed for the national roll-out of the scheme in March 2014. The findings revealed a number of differences in interpretation of the DVDS guidance amongst the professionals. These differences appeared to have been put in place as a result of locally adopted practices for each police force, as well as due to ambiguity of the guidance on the part of the Home Office, resulting in a non-universal approach to operating the scheme amongst the forces. The findings also revealed that the scheme (the ‘right to ask’ aspect of it, in particular) may only work for those who actively seek help. Even in this case, although the scheme may act for some as a life-changing event, a victim may not be in a position to leave the relationship, whilst leaving it does not assure the end of violence and abuse. Finally, the research reveals that domestic abuse tends to be under-reported by the victims and under-recorded by the police, which may result in a failure to reflect the full history of a subject. This, in turn, may result in providing a false reassurance to the potential victims, leading them to enter into a false belief and a false sense of security regarding their partners, hence contradicting the intentions of the DVDS.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2015 10:43
    Last Modified: 06 Feb 2015 10:43
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/16695

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