As of 8 March 2014 the public are now able to check the police record of their partners following the passing of Clare’s law in England and Wales. This scheme came into effect as a result of the tragic murder of 36 year old Clare Wood by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. Clare was strangled and then set on fire by George Appleton who had a previous history of violence against women including a conviction for harassment for which he was imprisoned for three years.
At the inquest into Clare’s death, the coroner said that women in abusive relationships should have the right to know about the violent past of the men that they were with. Clare’s father, who campaigned for the introduction of Clare’s Law, is convinced that she would still be alive today had she known the full extent of Appleton’s previous behaviour.
The aim of the scheme is to protect people from violence at the hands of their partner. It will allow people to ask the police about their partner’s previous history of violence and in some cases the police can proactively disclose this information.
The scheme was introduced to coincide with International Women’s Day following four successful pilot schemes. During the scheme over 100 people were provided with potentially lifesaving information.
Alongside Clare’s Law new powers have been introduced to protect victims in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence attack. This includes domestic violence protection orders which can be made against perpetrators to prevent them from contacting their victim for up to 28 days.