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.


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

    Comment number 303.

    Re- 294
    like I said if you've done nothing wrong you've got nowt to hide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    So, if I understand correctly, this only allows women to check on their boyfriends. What about men? What about gay men? Are they allowed to check on their boyfriends. And lesbians? Can they check on their prospective partners? If not, this is another example of inequality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    Wasn't there just a case recently where a woman has killed three men? Right okay so when can we have checks on women then?

    Well lets hope sharia law keeps spreading like it is in the UK then, that should re-address the balance. It's on it's way lates just hope it's sooner rather than later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    "Why some folk repeatedly involve themselves in abusive relationships."

    A few reasons:
    It's all they've ever known, growing up and now and see it as normal. They have such low self esteme that they don't believe they deserve better.
    Drugs dependancy
    They aren't that smart and are easily controled and hence preyed on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    @ 197: Dan Dover in response to mine @ 180: yes, of course. the point of my post was that "yours in sisterhood" was not being so measured in her observations on men in general.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Clare's Law doesn't take into account the emotional abuse women engage in. Here's an idea. Someone should set up a mirror website that enables people to upload their troublesome partner's details allowing men to find out about HER history as well.

    Then when a couple meets a 'review' of HER past behaviour can be there to give the guy a chance to save himself trouble as well.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 296.

    @285 inqa
    The inequality is still in your favour

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    @258 Isnt the point is to prevent involvement? On this one question that is rearely asked. Why some folk repeatedly involve themselves in abusive relationships. Ie they fail to recognise +/or ignore the warning signs. I once heard a mild manored academic (female) get crucified by some zealot on Womans hour for having recognised the issue, asked the question and looked at investigating its cause.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    This is another breach of privacy, another breach of the rights of men, and another reason not to get into any relationships

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    76. CTM87
    "2. None of your business as with no knowledge of circumstances, no indication as to whether she would abort your child or not."

    It is absolutely my business, the the same way as if she shows other weak (e.g. violent, cheating, etc.) behaviour. Most crime is a reaction to other injustices. What she did once.. she'll always do again!!! - the same as a violent man ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    if you've nothing wrong you have nothing to hide so applaud the idea it will make people think before they punch.
    and if they have committed crimes like this before this is called KARMA

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    re: 281 no it hasn't, there has always been strong masculine women and there have always been weaker less physically strong men, the difference is domestic violence is not treated fairly legally or socially, tv can show women hitting men and it is deemed comedy the other way round and it is shocking violence usually saved for gritty dramas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    #280 Well it won't because i've never been accused of rape. It was assault. In some respects I take your point. Was any action taken against your accuser (and did you bother with a civil case if the police didn't persue a criminal one?) If not, why not? In my case it was because I was still quite fond of my ex even after all that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    @277, if you're saying "everyone" instead of "anyone", than I actually agree. Not everyone acquitted is indeed innocent - for some its the lack of remaining evidence.

    However, in post 266 you wrote "The idea that anyone found innocent of rape was 'falsely accused' is bonkers."

    So as I said, if you meant to say "everyone", I'll let it go.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 287.

    11 Minutes ago


    Do try and join up the dots. In some areas 38% of domestic violence cases do not even reach court yet you want a sliding scale for domestic violence on gender...
    Do I! I suggest you read my earlier post again, then please, respond.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    More questions occured (sorry if they've already been raised)
    Does the law prevent individuals publicising the result they get on someone they requested a check on?
    What's to stop someone publicising a false result out of malice? eg Date didnt go well one party feels insulted?
    I would take it as read that politicos might have thought this kind of stuff out. But knowing the tubes in Westminster?

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    @281.ruthyg: Wow, no. Domestic violence is not about being "physically stronger". I (being male) have been hit by a female partner and spoke to a healthcare worker, but did not contact the police. It had nothing to do with me being physically weaker/stronger, but to do with my partner's behaviour. She acknowledged her fault and we worked through it (with support), but that's not always possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Can this not be selective? Violence against women (or men) as a result of a relationship ending, or financial dishonesty: conning one's partner out of money. Some people only break the law once and do their best to turn their lives around afterwards. These people would probably come clean in the early stages of a relationship, so one should not be too precipitate.


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