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Victorians could check partner's criminal history under Coalition plan to prevent family violence - ABC

Posted on 25 June 2018
Victorians could check partner's criminal history under Coalition plan to prevent family violence - ABC

Updated 25 Jun 2018,
Mon 25 Jun 2018,
ABC


People would be able to check the criminal history of their partner under a new scheme promised by the Victorian Coalition if it wins this year's state election.

The plan would allow an individual, or someone acting on their behalf, to ask police to do a background check of a current or former partner without that partner's knowledge.

Opposition spokeswoman for the prevention of family violence Georgie Crozier said the scheme could save lives.

"One of the worst aspects of our crime rate is the incidence of family violence," she said.

"It will enable people, if they've got concerns about their partner, or if somebody like a family member or friend is concerned about someone's partner, that they can make an application to a police station and then a criminal history check will be undertaken."

Police would assess a person's past, particularly looking at any violent offences or breaches of intervention orders.

Any information that could put a person at risk would then be shared face-to-face at a police station, or at an agreed safe place, with a support worker present.

In cases police determined as urgent, information could be shared within 48 hours.

Ms Crozier said the scheme, which was part of Victoria Police's submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, would be based on a similar program in the United Kingdom.

Clare's Law was introduced in the UK after the 2009 murder of British woman Clare Wood, who had no knowledge of her partner's criminal past.

Similar models are also in place in New Zealand and New South Wales, and the scheme has also been considered in South Australia.

But senior Andrews Government minister Jacinta Allan said the scheme was not included in the 227 recommendations put forward by the royal commission.

 

People's privacy would be protected: opposition


Ms Crozier said the disclosure scheme would be trialled in six local government areas where there was a high prevalence of family violence, including Casey, Greater Geelong, Whittlesea, Hume, Frankston and Wyndham.

She said any privacy concerns would be covered under existing laws and an applicant would be required to sign a legal document to ensure the information they were given was not shared in other forums.

"Any vexatious claims or intimidating comments that people might be making that are false are already covered under the current legislation," she said.

 

"It's important that we do have those protections in place so that this information doesn't go out unnecessarily."

 

"It is serious crimes that have occurred in someone's past, it's not trivial crimes, and police will make that assessment after they analyse the person's criminal history."

The Coalition has also promised that Victorians will be able to access information about convicted sex offenders living in their neighbourhood if it wins Government.

 

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