The new Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, aimed at combating domestic violence, has now been introduced. The scheme, commonly called “Clare’s Law” in honour of late domestic violence victim Clare Wood (pictured), allows people to contact police in order to discover whether their partner has a history of domestic violence.
The scheme took effect on 8th March to coincide with International Women’s Day. The introduction of the scheme followed pilots in four areas across England and Wales; Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottingham and Gwent. Since the pilots started in 2012, a reporting number of more than 100 women gained information that could possibly prove life-saving. Based upon this success, the decision was made to roll out the scheme across the UK.
Theresa May, Home Secretary, expressed her pleasure at the introduction of the scheme. “Clare’s Law,” she said, “will give some help to those people who think they have a partner who may be acting in a way which suggests that they are somebody who is violent.” May said that the scheme, through allowing women with concerns to find out if their partners have a history of violence to reassess their situation and safety and be “able to take a decision as to whether to stay with them or not.”
The scheme is named in honour of Clare Wood, who was murdered by a violent ex-boyfriend in 2009. Ms Wood was unaware that her boyfriend had previous convictions for domestic violence, including one that resulted in a three year jail term. As such, she was not warned about the extent of his violent tendencies.
Ms Wood’s father, Michael Brown, has since campaigned enthusiastically for the introduction of a scheme allowing women to obtain information about any previous history of violence in their partners. He believes that his daughter would not have been killed had she been able to find out about her killer’s past.
Mr Brown said that he was “absolutely delighted” that the scheme had been rolled out to “bring protection into the country for half the population.” He also encouraged women to use the scheme without hesitation if they had concerns, saying “It’s there to be used. Get it used, ask! If you are in a domestic violence situation or you think you could be seek advice and get out of there.” In support of this point, he highlighted the fact that 120 women lose their lives to domestic violence annually.
In tandem with Clare’s Law, Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) have also been brought in to bring extra protection to victims. Following a report of domestic violence, DVPOs could prevent offenders from contacting their victims in any way for up to 28 days.