The police in Scotland has asked GPs to file a report if they think patients are at risk of domestic abuse.
GPs who think one of their patients is at risk, or who are aware of a patient’s partner with a violent, abusive or sexual past, should report them using a disclosure scheme, Police Scotland has said.
The force said that GPs can help tackle the issue of domestic abuse by reporting concerns because they have ‘the advantage of seeing people when guards are down’ as well as relationship interactions and behaviour.
Detective superintendent Gillian Faulds, Police Scotland’s head of domestic abuse, said: ‘Domestic abuse is a key priority for Police Scotland, and those working in the healthcare sector such as GPs, can all play a part in alerting police to domestic abuse.
‘In the course of your work if you have a patient who you think could be at risk of domestic abuse please submit a Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland application.
‘We would also ask that if in your role you are aware of individuals with a violent, abusive or sexual past, and discover that they have a new partner, please submit an application.’
The Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse Scotland (DSDAS) operates two pathways:
- ‘The power to tell’: a disclosure can be made where police or a partner agency comes across information that indicates an individual may be at risk of domestic abuse.
- ‘The right to ask’: allows people to ask about the background of their partner and giving concerned relatives and friends the right to ask about someone’s partner.
Detective superintendent Faulds said: ‘The process is very straight forward, you can complete an online form which is available on the Police Scotland website, call 101, speak to an officer or attend at a police station and our officers will process it from there.
‘Where a partner does have an abusive past, a multi-agency panel will decide if there are lawful, proportionate and necessary reasons to disclose that information to the partner at risk.
‘Police officers become aware of domestic abuse after incidents are reported to us, but partners in health and social care have the advantage of seeing people at other times, when guards are down and you see real relationship interactions and behaviour.
‘Submitting a DSDAS application could prevent domestic abuse before it starts or ultimately save someone’s life.’
Over 20,000 applications have been submitted since 2015 and more than 11,500 disclosures have been made to tell people their partners have an abusive past.
Police Scotland has also produced a video which explains more about DSDAS and how health professionals can contribute.
GP practices are much more likely to spot signs of domestic abuse and to refer patients after receiving in-depth training, according to Queen Mary University and Bristol Medical School research.
Meanwhile, GPs in England have been encouraged to identify abusive or violent patients who may benefit from a rehabilitation programme.