Clare's Law showing early successes say police and social services agencies

In the five months since Clare's Law was enacted in Alberta, more than 200 applications were made to the province for information and support.

The law allows people living in violent or abusive relationships to fill out an online application asking police to share any violent criminal history of their domestic partners. It also puts the applicants in touch with social services that can point them towards the best supports and counselling.

"You can have a friend or family member fill it out for you or with you," said Carrie McManus, director of programs at Sagesse, an agency that helps abused women in the next steps after emergency shelters. "So I think that ease of access of "I'm not really sure what's going on, I'm not really sure if this is violence, I'm not really sure what I need for support" and the ability to fill that out and get the disclosure and the ability to get connected to social services."

According to the office of the minister of Community and Social Services, there were 226 applications in the first five months of the law being in effect. Of those, there were 102 disclosures and 127 people were referred for more help.

Some of that includes identifying abusive behaviours or making plans to reach safety or signal a need for immediate help.

Calgary Police said the law has been effective from their experience as well. Staff Sgt. Vincent Hancott heads the Domestic Conflict Unit which falls under the Major Crimes Unit. He said the disclosure of violent criminal history is important, but only one element in protecting families.

"The education, prevention, intervention," said Hancott. "That is probably the biggest underlying thing that I see as a benefit from Clare's Law."

He said as of his most recent data, a total of 57 applications have come from Calgary. Each of the 30,000 calls his unit fields each year are channeled to different investigators based on the assessed risk, from low to high.

"(To) go to these kinds of calls and be able to get help immediately for individuals that are experiencing violence in their relationship," Hancot said. "That's very rewarding."