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Clare’s Law and protection for victims of domestic violence: Over 3700 applications made

Clare’s Law and protection for victims of domestic violence: Over 3700 applications made

Clare’s Law, which permits people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence has been used more than 1,300 since it came into force in 2014. The number of applications highlights the shocking scale of domestic abuse across England and Wales.

Preventing a hidden history of domestic violence and abuse

Clare’s Law was introduced in England and Wales in March 2014 following a 14-month pilot in Gwent, Nottinghamshire, Wiltshire and Greater Manchester. It allows individuals to make a request to police to find out if their partner has an abusive or violent past.

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, a 36-year-old who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton in 2009. She was strangled at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, and had been unaware that Appleton had a history of violence towards women. After murdering Clare, Appleton was found hanged in a derelict pub some six days later.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that 3,760 applications have been made since the scheme launched nationwide, with the police passing on sensitive information about hidden abusive pasts to 1,335 concerned individuals. However, the figures show huge disparities in the likelihood of information being released.

Outside of the four forces initially involved in the pilot scheme, Lancashire police made the highest number of disclosures at 146, while only 5 were made in Norfolk. Greater Manchester was the force most likely to reveal information on request – with 60% of applicants successful in obtaining details of their partner’s history, while the rate in Merseyside was just 11%.

Police can also make use of Domestic Violence Protection Orders, to prevent perpetrators from contacting their victims.

Salford and Eccles MP Hazel Blears, who campaigned with Clare’s family for the law, said the figures show the scale of the threat of domestic violence across the country.

Tell the police your concerns

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, domestic violence charity Women’s Aid has detailed a practical guide to utilising Clare’s Law. While predominantly used by individuals to find out sensitive information about their partners, anyone can make a request about a person of concern to them.

Women’s Aid states the first step is contacting the police, which will usually involve them taking down an overview of all the concerns, along with the applicant’s contact details. An interview with a specialist domestic violence officer will usually be offered, with information about the individual of concern sought from other agencies, including social services.

The police will make a risk assessment based on the information gathered. If they do not consider abuse to be likely, they will not make a disclosure due to the highly sensitive and confidential nature of the information. However, if they do consider there is a risk, they will put together a safety plan to determine how to make the necessary disclosures – including who should receive the information. This is particularly relevant where a third party has raised a concern about a couple’s relationship.

Once a disclosure has been made, a referral should then be made to a specialist service to provide support for any at risk party.

Our childcare team helps families across West London and Bucks. If you are suffering from domestic violence or domestic abuse, please contact IBB in confidence to arrange a meeting and protect yourself and your children: call us on 01895 207857. You could be eligible for legal aid.