'Clare's Law' introduced to tackle domestic violence

 
Clare Wood The law was introduced following Clare Wood's murder by a former boyfriend

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A scheme to let people find out from police if their partner has a history of domestic violence has been brought in across England and Wales.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme - known as Clare's Law - is intended to provide information that could protect someone from being a victim of attack.

The initiative is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.

Home Secretary Theresa May said abuse by partners should not be tolerated.

'Life-saving information'

The scheme allows the police to disclose information on request about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.

It has been introduced to coincide with International Women's Day, following pilot schemes in four areas - Greater Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire - since September 2012.

The Home Office said the pilots had provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information.

Clare Wood

Clare Wood, a mother-of-one, was killed by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton, who unbeknown to her, had a history of violence to women.

Her body was discovered in her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009 - she had been strangled and set on fire.

He became known as the "Facebook killer" as he prowled the social networking site in search of partners.

In the months before her murder she had repeatedly contacted Greater Manchester Police alleging Appleton had caused criminal damage, harassed her, threatened to kill her and tried to rape her.

Police watchdogs later concluded Miss Wood had been badly let down by "individual and systemic" failures by the force.

Miss Wood, 36, had told her father Appleton had a criminal record - though only for motoring offences. In fact he had been jailed for three years in 2002 for harassing another woman and for six months a year earlier after breaching a restraining order on another ex-girlfriend.

At the inquest into Miss Wood's death, Coroner Jennifer Leeming said women in abusive relationships should have the right to know about the violent past of the men they were with.

Appleton was found six days later after Clare's death, hanged in a derelict pub.

Ms Wood was strangled and set on fire at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009 by George Appleton, who had a record of violence against women.

Her father, Michael Brown, who campaigned for the introduction of Clare's Law, is convinced she would still be alive had she known the full extent of Appleton's previous behaviour.

He said he was "absolutely delighted" that the scheme had come into force.

Mr Brown, a retired prison officer from Batley, West Yorkshire, spearheaded the "right to know" campaign after his daughter's death.

"I must admit it's tinged with a bit of emotion and a bit of sadness but we have got what we were fighting for - to bring protection into the country for half the population," he said.

New powers to protect victims in the immediate aftermath of an incident of domestic violence have been introduced alongside Clare's Law.

Magistrates can grant Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) preventing perpetrators from contacting victims for up to 28 days.

They were trialled in Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire.

'Stay or not'

Home Secretary Theresa May told the BBC: "Clare's Law will give some help to those people who think they have a partner who may be acting in a way which suggests that they are somebody who is violent.

"It enables that individual then to go to the police and they've got the right to ask for information about that partner. The police obviously have to think about that carefully, what information they give to the individual, and the support needs to be there for them," Ms May said.

"But it enables somebody to know whether their partner has a record of violence, and to be able to take a decision as to whether to stay with them or not."

George Appleton George Appleton had a history of violence towards women

She said 76 women were killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner last year.

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said nearly £40m had been ring-fenced for local support services and national helplines dealing with domestic violence.

'Facebook Fugitive'

But Jane Keeper from domestic violence charity Refuge said the law would do very little as it was targeting the wrong problem.

"Most perpetrators of domestic violence are never known to police, social care or the other agencies - so usually if a woman asks the police the likeliest thing, even if he is a perpetrator, is they are not going to know anything.

"The real problem is women we are working with right this minute, every day, experience really shocking failures on the part of the police and other state agencies."

Ms Wood, a mother-of-one, had met Appleton on Facebook.

She knew nothing about his history of violence against women, which included threats, repeated harassment and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one of his ex-girlfriends.

He went on the run after murdering Ms Wood and was dubbed the "Facebook Fugitive". He hanged himself while still at large.

Mr Brown urged women to make the most of the new scheme.

He said: "I can remember standing outside the coroner's office feeling lost. I'd lost a daughter and I thought I'd lost the battle.

"I wish I'd known what I know now because I felt desolate and for the pendulum to swing so far around, that has put a smile back on my face, it's hardly worth believing.

"It's there to be used. Get it used, ask! If you are in a domestic violence situation or you think you could be seek advice and get out of there, because the ultimate is 120 women a year have lost their lives, mostly at a young age."

 

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  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 252.

    Brave campaigning from a grieving family. If only everyone had the courage to actively seek an end to injustices, instead of criticising those who do.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 244.

    I understand the comments on here, I work in a womens refuge, i also staff one of the advice lines. there is very little help for men who are abused, and the playing field should be more equal. For those saying women should just walk away, you obviously have no understanding of the problem. I welcome Clare's law, but feel it will be abused itself and ineffectual.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 200.

    I'm not sure what this law will achieve, what I do know, is that as someone who once had a relationship with an abusive partner, I certainly didn't see the signs straight away. Professional, charming, caring, all the things unlikely abusers can often be. But then the controlling, possessive, angry side appears, & by then it is often too late. I literally escaped with my life, but too many don't.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 184.

    This law is a terrible idea. What precautions will the police be taking to ensure that enquiries are made by genuine parties? How do you prove you are really dating them? This opens the doors for employers to discretely check on the people who work for them without permission, nosey neighbours, people with an axe to grind, the press, etc. It's a civil rights issue.

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 71.

    I agree and support this change, but there is a nagging voice in the back of my mind that keeps asking 'Why would anyone consider having a relationship with someone who they suspect (at any level) of being an abuser' If you are not 100% sure walk away

 

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    tweets: Gisela Stuart floats idea of a Labour-Tory grand coalition. Not going to happen; would be a gift to Ukip, SNP and the Greens.

     
  73.  
    08:08: Gordon Brown on oil fund
    Gordon Brown

    Former prime minister Gordon Brown will be giving one of his last speeches before stepping down as an MP later. Mr Brown, who played a key role for the "No" campaign in the final days before Scotland's independence referendum, will be talking today about the creation of a North Sea reserve fund to help the oil industry. Mr Brown thinks the fund would help maintain and upgrade infrastructure and could provide last-resort debt finance for companies who want to keep fields open. He believes the UK government could even take over fields in partnership with some firms in order to keep them open and viable in future.

     
  74.  
    08:07: Tidal tale

    We mentioned the government's enthusiasm for tidal power earlier. If, like us, it's been a while since you did A-level geography, here's how it works.

     
  75.  
    08:01: 'Lovely' Clegg The Huffington Post
    Tim Farron

    The Huffington Post has been speaking to Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron - widely seen as a possible successor to Nick Clegg as party leader. He says a lot of the speculation surrounding his future is "nonsense" which should be taken "with a pinch of salt". Mr Farron also tells the site Mr Clegg has been "absolutely lovely" the rumours. More here.

     
  76.  
    @tnewtondunn Tom Newton Dunn, political editor of the Sun

    tweets: "We must slash our armed forces, yet PM has locked us into £5bn of perks for pensioners who've never had it so good" More here.

     
  77.  
    07:54: Marmite Farage

    Describing David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg as "vanilla", Nigel Farage suggested he might be seen as "marmite" - "some people love it", he adds.

     
  78.  
    07:46: Farage on immigration
    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage also discussed the impact of immigration on GMB, saying it could have a positive effect. He added: "If you control immigration sensibly and do it properly it can be a benefit to to the country, and it can enrich the culture too, no argument about that."

     
  79.  
    07:42: Farage on family

    During his Good Morning Britain interview, Nigel Farage spoke about the impact of his political commitments on his family life. He told the programme: "To be honest with you, I think my whole family would rather I had never gone into politics."

     
  80.  
    @EmmaReynoldsMP Emma Reynolds, shadow housing minister

    tweets: Cameron & Shapps have no idea how to deliver new starter homes at a discount. A record number of young people in 20s/30s live wt parents.

     
  81.  
    @patrickwintour Patrick Wintour, political editor of the guardian

    tweets: PSA survey of 500 experts produces mean Labour 282.3 seats, Con 278.4, LD 24.8, Ukip 6.6, SNP 28.7, Plaid 3.3, Green 1.9, Others 13.4

     
  82.  
    07:33: 'Not a good PM'

    Nigel Farage was asked by Good Morning Britain if he'd like to be prime minister. His reply? "I don't think that's my role in life, I don't think I'd be very good at it either."

     
  83.  
    @robindbrant Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: @Nigel_Farage struggling to answer when @GMB ask him to describe a benefit of other races & cultures in the UK

     
  84.  
    07:25: One in, one out?
    House of Lords

    Should new peers only be admitted to the House of Lords when one stands down? The idea has been floated this morning by Baroness D'Souza, the Lords speaker. Writing for The Telegraph, she says the chamber has an "image problem", but does "valuable work in holding governments to account". She writes of a potential one "'one in, one out" policy: "This would not reduce the size of the House in the immediate future, but it would at least limit its expansion."

     
  85.  
    07:21: Tidal lagoons

    Ed Davey, the energy secretary, has been speaking to the BBC about plans to generate electricity from the world's first series of tidal lagoons in the UK. The lagoons will capture incoming and outgoing tides behind giant sea walls, and use the weight of the water to power turbines. A £1bn Swansea scheme, said to be able to produce energy for 155,000 homes, is already in the planning system. Mr Davey told BBC News: "I can't make a decision on this yet because discussions are ongoing. But I'm very excited by the prospect of tidal power. We have got some of the biggest tidal ranges in the world and it would be really useful if we could harness some of that clean energy."

     
  86.  
    07:19: Banking tax explainer
    The city

    Here's a bit more on the Liberal Democrat plan to tax banks to pay off more of the deficit and how it would work. Corporation Tax is applied on a company's annual profits and is set to fall 1% to a rate of 20% from next month. But the Lib Dems say they wish to impose an additional corporation tax rate of 8% on banks only from April 2016. The party says this measure would raise £1bn a year and would go towards closing the structural budget deficit of £30bn. It said because failings in the banking system had caused the financial crisis, it was fair that banks helped repair the economy. Banks already pay a bank levy which has yielded £8bn over the past four years. The Conservatives may resist the proposals though. They've said they would cut the deficit solely by reducing spending. Labour says it would tax bank bonuses and re-impose the 50p top rate of income tax.

     
  87.  
    07:14: 'Drop migration target'
    Ken Clarke

    Elsewhere this morning, Ken Clarke has said David Cameron's net migration target should be dropped. Mr Clarke, a former home secretary, said it would be impossible to reach without "severely" damaging the UK economy. He told the Times: "I am afraid that the net migration target has proved to be a mistake. It has been defended to me as almost returning to the figures to those when I was home secretary. This is true, but we weren't in a globalised economy then to the extent we are now. We will have to drop the target. It would not be possible to achieve it without damaging our economy quite severely."

     
  88.  
    07:11: 'Beauty contest of ideas' Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    Despite us thinking we're a nation of homeowners, the proportion of people who actually own their own home, and live in it, has been falling in England for more than 10 years now as house prices have rocketed up. Labour have actually outbid the Conservatives by far on the number of homes they say that they would build - they are promising 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament and they say they have a plan to do it. You won't hear anyone today say the housing market is just fine, there isn't a problem here. You'll see a beauty contest of ideas, if you like, to sort it out." More on the housing announcement.: "

     
  89.  
    @campbellclaret Alastair Campbell, former Labour spin doctor

    tweets: Hope he never gets chance but would be interesting to see if @David_Cameron meets his 200k housing pledge as quickly as NHS waiting pledge

     
  90.  
    06:52: Defence spending
    Raymond Odierno

    Over the weekend, former defence secretary Liam Fox warned of a potential Tory rebellion if defence spending targets are not met. And now the head of the US Army - Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno - has said he is "very concerned" about the impact of cuts in Britain. He said the falling proportion of the UK's national wealth being spent on the military could mean British troops end up operating within US ranks, rather than divisions working alongside each other. More here.

     
  91.  
    06:46: Newspaper review
    Metro and Telegraph fronts

    Just sitting down for your first coffee of the day? Here's our overnight newspaper review, featuring today's announcement on homes from the Conservatives and a warning on UK defending spending.

     
  92.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Housing on @BBCBreakfast - part of the reason you can't afford a home: building not yet back at pre crash levels

    Graph from Twitter
     
  93.  
    06:28: Bank tax
    Danny Alexander

    The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to tax Britain's banks with an additional £1bn levy. Danny Alexander, the coalition's chief secretary to the Treasury, wants to effectively strip banks of the benefit of recent corporation tax cuts. The money, the Lib Dems say, would be used to pay off the deficit. More here.

     
  94.  
    06:25: Housing pledge
    Generic homes

    Later, David Cameron will promise to make 200,000 homes available to first-time buyers in England by 2020 if the Conservatives win the election. Plans for 100,000 cut-price homes for people under 40 have already been announced by the coalition. Labour has pledged to build 200,000 new homes by 2020, while the Lib Dems have set out plans to build 300,000. More here.

     
  95.  
    06:20: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Monday's political coverage. Nick Eardley and Victoria King will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Sunday unfolded.

     

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