Domestic Abuse – What is ‘Clare’s Law’ and how can it help protect you
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Officially known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – Clare’s law is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.
Ms Wood was strangled and set on fire at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009 by George Appleton, who had a record of violence against women.
Her father, Michael Brown, who campaigned for the introduction of Clare's Law, was convinced she would still be alive had she known the full extent of Appleton's previous behaviour.
As a result of the campaign a new law was introduced in 2014 that allows either someone who has become concerned about a partner's abusive behaviour or a third party – a mother, father, friend – concerned for someone in a potentially dangerous relationship.
‘Right to know’ and ‘right to ask’
Clare’s Law has two functions:
‘right to ask’ - this enables someone to ask the police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme.
‘right to know’ - police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances.
Every request under Clare’s Law is thoroughly checked by a panel made up of police, probation services and other agencies to ensure information is only passed on where it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. In specific situations where there is an urgent need to disclose information officers may circumvent the panel and disclose the information immediately to the person at risk.
If you request a disclosure as a third party, the police may well go straight to the potential victim of abuse to make the disclosure. If they are young, or especially vulnerable, they might disclose to their parents or someone else who can help keep them safe. This means that you might not be told the outcome if you request a disclosure about someone else.
What could you be told?
If the checks show that your partner has a record of violent offences or there is other information that indicates there is a pressing need to make a disclosure to prevent further crime, the police may disclose this information to you or to a person who is more able to protect you.
If you receive information you must not divulge it to anyone else – if you do, you can be prosecuted under the Data Protection Act.
How you can make a request under Clare’s Law
If you are in Derbyshire then you can make a request by clicking the link below and filling out an online form: