Clare's Law to cover all of England and Wales after pilot scheme

 
Clare Wood Clare Wood met her ex-partner on Facebook and was unaware of his criminal record

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Clare's Law, which enables people to check the police record of their partners, is to be expanded to cover all of England and Wales.

It has been piloted in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent since September 2012.

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her Salford home in February 2009.

She was unaware of his history of violence against women.

The law is expected to take effect across England and Wales in March.

Clare Wood's father, Michael Brown, has welcomed plans to roll out the scheme, officially known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, saying the scheme "could, quite possibly, have saved her life".

'Escape if necessary'

During the pilot of Clare's Law there were 111 disclosures in the four police areas involved.

Clare Wood's father, Michael Brown: "I'm hoping at the very least there is going to be a substantial drop in death figures"

Home Secretary Theresa May, has issued a written statement to the House of Commons. She says that there "are still too many cases where vulnerable people are let down".

"Clare's Law provides people with the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy," she said.

"The national scheme will ensure that more people can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary.

"This is an important step towards ensuring we do better by women like Clare Wood in the future."

Ms May said 88 women were killed by their partners last year.

'Right-to-Ask'

The disclosure of people's history of domestic violence can be triggered in two ways:

Start Quote

We need to help the majority of victims - not the few. Let's get our priorities right”

End Quote Sandra Horley Chief executive, Refuge
  • Right-to-Ask: the law will allow people to apply to police forces in England and Wales for information on a partner's history of domestic violence
  • Right-to-Know: police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances

A panel of police, probation services and other agencies will check every request to ensure it is necessary before trained police officers and advisers would then provide support to victims.

Extremely dangerous

Refuge, a charity which helps victims of domestic violence, is opposed to the rollout of Clare's Law. They are calling for the government to open a public inquiry into the response of police to domestic violence.

George Appleton

George Appleton
  • Clare Wood made several complaints to police about George Appleton before her death
  • Appleton had a history of violence against women, including harassment and threats
  • He was found hanged six days after Ms Wood's killing
  • An inquest into his death found he committed suicide

The charity's chief executive, Sandra Horley, says: "Clare's Law may help a few individuals - but domestic violence is a huge social issue with a massive death toll. We need to help the majority of victims - not the few. Let's get our priorities right."

She also says that leaving a violent partner can be extremely dangerous: "women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner".

But chief executive of the charity Victim Support Javed Khan welcomed the plans.

"Early identification to stop domestic violence is crucial," he said.

He also said that it is important to give people the "support they need both before and after a disclosure has been made, so they can make an informed choice about what to do next".

New Domestic Violence Protection Orders are also being rolled out across England and Wales from next March.

These can be issued by a police officer at superintendent rank where they have reasonable grounds to believe a victim is at risk of future violent behaviour. The case for the protection order would have to be heard in a magistrates' court within 48 hours.

A Scottish government spokesperson said domestic abuse was taken very seriously and that: "We will follow the rollout of this pilot across England and Wales with interest, in particular the evaluation, and consider the role that this initiative can play in Scotland."

Police Scotland said tackling domestic abuse was a high priority and that their officers "regularly liaise with colleagues across forces in England and Wales and exchange information readily and as requested".

In Northern Ireland, the Department for Justice said there were no plans to introduce their own version of Clare's Law. "Such proposals would require local consultation and development."

 

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  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 383.

    Anything that can save one woman from suffering at the hands of a bullying male should go ahead. If the male kicks off one drunken night then apologises - the woman can check if there is prior history - and if there is she can see that the 'one' incident isn't that at all and she has to be very wary. Might save her life. I am male and despise all men and religions who treat women as dirt.

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 324.

    As someone who has suffered domestic violence, I do think this sort of information should be available but handled very carefully. Something needs to be done for women who suffer and men of course too but it really needs to be done in the right way so not everyone can have information and perhaps use it wrongly.

  • rate this
    -39

    Comment number 297.

    Is it just partners or can family also check? I'd love the ability to check my daughter's boyfriends when the time comes.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 288.

    so many problems with this report; if the partner had been violent in the past but had gone unreported, what then? if anything, i would urge anybody to report an abusive relationship and urge men to speak up too..

  • rate this
    -38

    Comment number 242.

    This is all about time too, if you've got nothing to hide then you've got nothing to fear from this

 

Comments 5 of 10

 

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