A scheme which allows people to discover if your partner has a history of domestic violence has been introduced in England and Wales to coincide with International Women’s Day.
The initiative – known as Clare’s Law after Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009 – permits police to disclose information on request concerning a partner’s track record of domestic violence or other aggressive acts.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme has already been trialled in four areas - Greater Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire - since September 2012. The Home Office says the pilots have provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information.
Clare Wood, 39, was strangled and set on fire by her partner at her home in Salford in 2009. Her partner, George Appleton, had a record of violence against women. Her father, Michael Brown, has campaigned for the introduction of the ‘right to know’ scheme. He says his daughter would still be alive had she known the full details of Appleton’s violent background.
Brown said he was "absolutely delighted" that the scheme had come into force. He added: “I'm sure my daughter would be up there clapping."
A society where violence is not tolerated
Launching the initiative, home secretary Theresa May said: “I am determined to see a society where violence against women and girls is not tolerated, where people speak out, and where no woman or girl has to suffer domestic abuse. 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. 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."
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 also trialled in Greater Manchester, West Mercia and Wiltshire.
For more on this story, including the view of the Association of Chief Police Officers visit www.policingtoday.co.uk