Clare's Law 'right to ask' pilot under way in Wiltshire

Clare Wood
Image caption Clare Wood's father has campaigned since her death at the hands of her former partner

A year-long pilot giving people the right to ask police if their partner has a history of domestic violence has begun in Wiltshire.

The scheme has been dubbed Clare's Law, after a woman who was murdered by a former partner she met on Facebook.

If police find the person they are checking has a violent past they can arrange support for the partner.

But domestic violence charity Refuge said the majority of abusers were not known to the police.

"Only 16% of incidents are reported," said Sandra Horley, Refuge's chief executive.

Motivations checked

"We're also concerned that government is spending precious resources on introducing a new scheme when the legislative framework is already in place. The police already have the powers to disclose."

The pilot is also running in Gwent, south-east Wales, and will start in Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire from September.

Clare Wood, from Salford, Greater Manchester, was murdered in 2009 by a former boyfriend with a violent background.

The 36-year-old mother had made several complaints to police about George Appleton, who she met on the internet, before he killed her. He was later found hanged.

Home Office figures show two people are killed by their current or former partner each week in England and Wales.

Under the pilot, people can ask police if there is information about previous violent offending by their partner, but police will also be able to check to make sure the intention of the person asking is not malicious.

"There's very clear guidance to the public that if they make inquiries there will be checks made around them as well and their motivations for making that inquiry," said Det Chief Insp Andrew Carr, of Wiltshire Police.

"There will be a very carefully considered decision before we release any information."

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