8 Mar 2014

‘Right to know’ about partner’s violent past becomes UK law

Clare’s Law, which gives people gives people the right to know if a partner has a history of domestic violence, is rolled out to police forces across England and Wales following a successful test.

Known as Clare’s Law – the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme has been welcomed by the family of a woman who was murdered by a violent partner, in Manchester. Clare Wood, 36, was strangled and set on fire by her ex-partner George Appleton in in 2009.

Partners or agencies now have the right to ask if an individual has a record of domestic abuse.

‘I thought I’d lost the battle’

Clare Wood’s father, Michael Brown, said he was thrilled the law had been rolled out nationwide after a long campaign for the law to change.

It’s there to be used. Get it used, ask! Michael Brown

“I can remember standing outside the coroner’s office feeling lost….I’d lost a daughter and I thought I’d lost the battle,” he said.

“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.”

Miss Wood, a mother-of-one, had met Appleton on Facebook, unaware of his horrific history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one of his ex-girlfriends.

The right to ask

Manchester Police force was one of the first to adopt the “right to ask” system in a 14-month pilot project across four forces. 100 people were given information in that time. And it’s now being rolled out nationwide.

The scheme give members of the public a mechanism to make enquires about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner.

Agencies can also make “right to know” enquiries where they are concerned about a victim.

Mrs May said: “Domestic abuse shatters lives and this government is working hard to provide police and local authorities with the tools they need to keep women and girls safe.

“Clare’s Law and DVPOs are just two of a raft of measures we have introduced to hand control back to the victim by ensuring they can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary.

“Protection for victims is improving but sadly there are still too many cases where vulnerable people are let down.”