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
    +1

    Comment number 382.

    I wondered why the missus asked for my CRB check.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 381.

    Rule of thumb: If you are concerned enough to do a police check on a potential partner, then maybe you shouldn’t be entering that relationship in the first place!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 380.

    This is a license to exploit the system as with finding where your local rapist lives...this must be policed by the police and can only be done once a criminal charge has been through court.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 379.

    I don't understand those saying they would dump their partner if they found out their partner had checked their background.

    I wouldn't be annoyed by it. How is someone supposed to know to just trust you, particularly at the beginning of a relationship?

    If you had this information available and went on to be a victim of DV, would you then be judged negligent by society?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 378.

    @365, then you missed my point about stigma.

    Take an example of a case where a man, for argument's sake, has in the past been convicted for DV. It's been years since, and he's shown little sign of re-offending.

    Under this law (if he knows his knew partner checked), and your idea to be upfront and honest, how likely is he to get into a stable relationship?

    Multi-faceted problem.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 377.

    375. Motorway
    People will use this 'service' because they can, just simply to get the 'gossip' on someones new fella.
    --
    A) You have to pay for it.
    B) Any info given out is at the police's discretion. Its not like google.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 376.

    368.Oldschooltie

    "This law needs to be handled very carefully. As posters've pointed out, information leaked to friends and colleagues could get twisted"

    Totally agree and imo a rushed populist new law that is ill thought out, does not carry adequate safeguards and is totally irrelevant untill the police and justice system take domestic violence far more seriously.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 375.

    255. CTM87
    120.Motorway

    What measures can or should be taken to protect individuals when a private matter has been spread with malicious intent so as to cause reputational damage?

    People will use this 'service' because they can, just simply to get the 'gossip' on someones new fella.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 374.

    359.doris

    Oh your Sharia law comments are very illuminating I wont bother replying to you any further as there is little point.

    btw its Little Welsh Dragon, or was that your attempt at being funny?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 373.

    @362. Iapetus

    Follow the thread genius.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 372.

    #365 I agree - if someone is hiding a history of domestic violence from their new partner, that is unlikely to be a sign of trust or a genuine attempt to reform.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 371.

    This is a good move. However, to all the feminists out there it's not just women who are have been the victims of domestic violence. The Home Secretary needs to make this clear.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 370.

    365 Little Scotch Dragon.

    Quite the little goody two shoes it seems with an answer for everything.

    And you don't seem to mind innocent men having their pasts checked just because someone had no common sense to start off with.

    No wonder Sharia law is spreading so fast in the UK,...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 369.

    If someone is so concerned about their potential risk in their current situation that they feel the need to check on someone's past they need to be ending the current situation. End of story otherwise it is just appeasing curiosity. I've never been violent and if I found out someone had been checking me out that would be the end of any trust in my relationship. If trust isn't there....nothing is

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 368.

    This law needs to be handled very carefully. As posters've pointed out, information leaked to friends and colleagues could get twisted, resulting in innocent people losing their reputations or being ostracised, but partners have a right to know if there's been previous abuse which was reported

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 367.

    The reporting here is embarrassingly bad - the law is gender-neutral. I blame Theresa May entirely for that, since this anti-feminist is pretending to care for women today.

    This is really just the executive trying to increase contrl of the country - something New Labour and New Tories are alla bout. The POLICE should not be tasked with deciding whether to release JUDICIAL information.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 366.

    For those asking about whether men can inquire about violent women, apparently the answer is yes. Unfortunately statistics about violent acts against men by women are not officially recorded in the same way. Sadly the bbc didn't report this - the first search result with this was from the daily mail. Thanks bbc, now I feel dirty.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 365.

    357.Sibbwolf

    Probably the best way to leave your past behind is actually to be honest with your new partner, if you are genuinely sorry and have sought treatment to ensure you never lose control again then you should be honest with your new partner.

    Im sorry but the protection of future victims is more important to me that someones right to have that past violence kept secret.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 364.

    It'd be pretty funny if someone with no previous history of violence beat their partner up because they found out they had requested a record check. Love to see that one played out in court.

 

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