Clare’s Law (known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme) is a scheme which allows men and women to discover whether their partner has a history of violence. A request which can also be made by third parties such as friends and family who may feel ‘concerned’. On Tuesday it was revealed that over 1,300 disclosures have been made in England and Wales after the pilot scheme was expanded in March 2014.
The scheme was launched after the tragic death of Clare Wood at the hands of a former boyfriend in 2009. George Appleton strangled Clare at her home in Salford and proceeded to set her on fire. Mr Appleton was found hanged 6 days after and it later transpired that he had a history of violence towards women.
Following Clare’s death her father, Michael Brown, campaigned alongside Labour MP Hazel Blears for the introduction of the scheme. A freedom of information request from the Press Association has today revealed that at least 3,760 applications have been made, resulting in 1335 disclosures. Mr Brown was quoted in a BBC article that he is “quietly delighted” the law was being used and added “All these people know about Clare’s Law, they’re going to tell another five, another dozen, and next year this is going to snowball”.
The figures released today are believed to not portray the entire picture as three police forces didn’t release their records, meaning the true numbers of applications would be likely to be higher. However at the moment there is a wide regional disparity in the number of requests which have been accepted and MP Hazel Blears has suggested that the law was being used in different ways.
Whilst fundamentally positive, concern has been expressed by some. It is thought that some applicants may be led into a false sense of security if it turns out their partner does not have a record for violent behaviour. Many abusers do not actually have a criminal record. For someone to make the application in the first place, they must have felt concerned or in danger. If their partner does not have a violent record and they take no further action, they could potentially be left at risk of violence.
If you are interested in finding out more of how Clare’s law works in practice, please follow the link here to the Metropolitan Police website. Furthermore, if you are concerned about your situation, or that of someone you know, you can seek further advice regarding domestic violence and what protection is available here.