WILTSHIRE Police, working alongside partner agencies, says it is leading the way in coming up with a plan to tackle domestic violence.

Wiltshire Police is one of four forces across the country trialling the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) - also known as Clare's Law.

The scheme enables individuals to apply for a disclosure of information about previous violent offending by a new or existing partner which may help protect them from further abuse.

The force has so far received more than 90 applications for disclosures since the scheme began in July 2012 – that’s more than any other force involved in the trial.

Each application is thoroughly examined before a multi-agency decision on whether to disclose the information is made.

The process involves a number of partnership agencies including Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council, voluntary and community sector partners and the Home Office.

So far, there have been a total of 16 successful disclosures in Wiltshire including four in Swindon.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Matt Stone, of the Public Protection Department at Wiltshire Police, said: "Wiltshire Police remains committed to supporting victims and targeting the perpetrators of domestic abuse.

"Domestic violence can take many forms including physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological abuse.

"It's important for victims to know that it's not acceptable and to seek help whether it be through the police or another organisation.

"I can reassure anyone wishing to report domestic abuse that all the information we receive is treated seriously.

"We have specialist teams to work with survivors of domestic abuse who understand the complex nature of this behaviour, and liaise closely with other agencies to ensure appropriate support is offered.

"I would encourage anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse to report such incidents to us or seek support from a specialist agency or through the National Centre for Domestic Violence.

"Wiltshire Police and our partners treat every reported incident of domestic abuse extremely seriously and will continue to ensure that victims, and those affected by abuse, receive the utmost protection and the perpetrators face the consequences of their actions."

Keith Humphries, Wiltshire Council's cabinet member for public protection, said: "Domestic abuse impacts on many people's lives, with up to one in four women and one in six men being affected by one of the many forms of domestic abuse during their lifetime.

"It is often referred to as the hidden crime as victims are so fearful of reporting what is happening to them, they may not even tell family and friends."

Richard Hurley, Swindon Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “Domestic violence affects many individuals and families and accessing help and support can sometimes be very difficult because of the complex issues that victims face.

“Ensuring we have a range of support available is very important and will empower victims to make choices to keep themselves safe.”

Maggie Rae, who chairs Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership, said: "It is so important to remind people there is help out there and not to suffer in silence but to have the courage to speak out."

For more information on the DVDS pilot scheme, contact Wiltshire Police Domestic Abuse Investigation Teams on 101. There is also the facility to leave information anonymously.

If you are or know someone who is living with the affects of domestic abuse, please speak out and seek support by contacting Wiltshire Police. You can also call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 (freephone in partnership with Women's Aid and Refuge), Swindon 24 Hour Helpline 01793 610610 or visit speakoutwiltshire.com.