Clare’s Law is set to be rolled out across the country in an effort to reduce domestic violence. The legislation was introduced by Greater Manchester Police after the murder of Clare Wood in Salford. Clare was strangled and set on fire in 2009 by her ex-partner, George Appleton, who had a history of violence against women.
The aim of the legislation is to give members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.
If Police checks show that the individual has a record of abusive offences, or there is other information to indicate the person is at risk, the Police will consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the potential victim. The scheme aims to enable potential victims to make an informed choice on whether to continue the relationship, and provides help and support to assist the potential victim when making that informed choice.
So far, 146 people or third parties, for instance other family members, have requested ‘disclosure’ from the Police. Statistics show that 81 women were given information about partners with a history of violence. The remainder were told there was no evidence of a violent past.
Ministers are this week to make an announcement about the expansion of Clare’s Law across the nation.
Hazel Blears, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, who assisted Clare’s dad, Michael Brown, in campaigning for the introduction of the scheme, said:
“Clare’s Law has the potential not only to change people’s lives for the better, but also to save lives, so I am absolutely delighted that it is to be rolled out nationally.”
Clare’s father Mr Brown, 70, said news of the roll-out was ‘a great day for common sense’. He continued:
“It has been a long, hard slog and we are now finally seeing the winning tape. I’m quietly elated, but this day is also tinged with sadness because had I not lost my daughter I would not need to be here.
“This law gives women an extra layer of protection and ensures that they are given all the information they need to decide whether to stay or to go. It also means that these men cannot hide behind the Data Protection Act.
“We never usually hear about their background until they go to court and then it is too late.”
Police hope that more women and their families will use Clare’s Law as a week of action to tackle domestic violence commences.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, said:
“Christmas should be an enjoyable time for people, but for some families it can be a time of fear, with many victims suffering in silence at the hands of someone who is supposed to love and care for them.
“We need to give victims confidence to come forward and report domestic violence and raise awareness of the help and support that’s available to break the cycle of abuse and help them rebuild their lives. That’s what this operation is about and is an example of some of the work across Greater Manchester to tackle this appalling crime.”
Police anticipate a rise in domestic violence incidents across the festive period compared to all other times of the year. Last year, there were 1,526 incidents between Christmas and New Year, approximately 33% higher than the average for any other week. Boxing Day 2012 saw 240 reports of mainly alcohol-fueled abuse.