Merseyside's Police Commissioner has welcomed the announcement that a policy enabling victims to check the domestic history background of their partner will now be expanded to cover the region.
Clare’s Law allows people to check the police record of their partners. It is named after mother-of-one Clare Wood, 36, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford in February 2009.
Appleton had a long history of violence against women and would seek partners out on social networks and online dating. Miss Wood was unaware of Appleton’s previous convictions, which included harassment and kidnap at knifepoint of an ex-girlfriend.
The scheme has been piloted in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent since September 2012. It was announced today that the law, officially known as Domestic Violence Protection Orders, should take effect across England and Wales in March.
The move, which was announced on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, has been applauded by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy.
The Commissioner said: “Domestic violence remains largely a hidden crime. I am committed to tackling it and giving a voice to survivors.
“It is vital that victims are aware of the help and support that is available from Merseyside Police and other agencies. Clare’s Law will enable people to access information that will allow them to make an informed decision and, if necessary, help them escape an abusive situation before it spirals out of control.
“This law will also enable family and friends to help protect a loved one who they believe may become or already be the victim of an abusive relation
“This law sends out a clear message that violence in the home is not acceptable. It is just one way in which I will work closely with Merseyside Police to ensure victims in the region are fully protected and supported.”
Under the new scheme, after a request has been made, police can share data with social services, the prison and probation services to discuss whether there are any abuse offences or any other pressing matters that the ‘potential victim’ should know.
Disclosure of a person’s criminal history must be ‘lawful, necessary and proportionate’ and may even be done if a person has not requested it.
Clare’s Law can be used by anyone concerned over a partner’s abusive behaviour or those concerned about a friend or family member in a relationship and at risk of violence by their partner.
During the pilot scheme of Clare's Law, or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, there were 111 disclosures in the four police areas involved.
The Commissioner’s counterpart in Greater Manchester Tony Lloyd has already advocated the scheme. He announced in September that they would continue to run the scheme after the completion of the pilot period.
More information on Clare's Law from Greater Manchester Police