Alberta introduces Clare’s Law, aimed at stopping domestic violence
EDMONTON -- Dianne Denovan thought she had met the man of her dreams. But seven months after dating she said the relationship turned into her worst nightmare. In 2016 Denovan was nearly beaten to death. He later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
Denovan had no idea her ex had a long history of violence against women. A new law in the province hopes to change that.
“It’s a positive thing out of a very bad situation…Just to save one person will be worth it,” said Denovan.
Starting April 1, the UCP Government is implementing its version of Clare’s Law. The Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence (Clare’s Law) Act, will give someone at risk of domestic violence access to the criminal records of potentially abusive partners.
“Tools like Clare’s Law will help us deal with the issue before it even begins,” said Rajan Sawhney, minister of community and social services. “We believe people at risk have a right to know if their partners have histories of violence or abuse.”
“I believe this law will save lives,” said Sawhney.
Clare’s Law is named after Clare Wood of Manchester, England. She was killed in 2009 by a former boyfriend with a history of domestic violence. She was not aware of his criminal past.
The province said someone else can apply on behalf of another person if they have consent, or without consent if they are a legal guardian.
Police will also be allowed to warn potential victims.
“It also allows police to take proactive steps if they have reason to believe an act of domestic violence is reasonably likely to occur,” said Kaycee Madu, minister of justice and solicitor general. “Police will be able to share information with the person who is at risk.”
Madu said the information can not be used for legal proceedings and the person whose information is being requested will not be notified.
“The information is only to be used to help a person make decisions about their safety. The system ensures we are striking the right balance,” said Madu.
According to the province, Alberta is the fourth highest in Canada for rates of police-reported intimate partner violence. From 2008 to 2019, there were 204 deaths in Alberta due to domestic and family violence.
With files from the Canadian Press