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  1. ITV Report

Clare's Law pilot scheme begins in Greater Manchester

Clare Wood Photo: ITV Granada

Greater Manchester will now be one of four areas in England and Wales to trial a pilot scheme, known as Clare's Law, allowing people to check if their partner has had a violent or abusive past.

It comes after a campaign for a change in the law to help protect women from domestic abuse by Michael Brown, the father of a murder victim Clare Wood.

Mr Brown's daughter, Clare Wood, was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, at her home in Salford in February 2009. Appleton, dubbed the "Facebook Fugitive", then went on the run before hanging himself.

Miss Wood, 36, a mother of one, had met Appleton on Facebook, unaware of his horrific history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one of his ex-girlfriends.

At the inquest into Miss Wood's death last year, Coroner Jennifer Leeming said women in abusive relationships should have the right to know about the violent past of the men they were with.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) pilot offers people a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and have a violent or abusive past.

If police checks show that a person may be at risk of domestic abuse from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information.

"This pilot is about prevention and exploring new ways of protecting victims of domestic abuse. It helps individuals make an informed decision on whether or not to continue a relationship and will provide help and support to them when making that choice. It will enable police to act in the best interests of those people who believe they are at risk of violence by sharing information of a partners' violent past."

– Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood

Greater Manchester Police joins police forces in Gwent, Wiltshire and Nottingham in the pilot, which will end in September 2013.

"Following the tragic death of Clare Wood, who was a resident in Salford, I have worked closely with her father and family to gain cross-party support for 'Clare's Law'. "Too many women and men continue to suffer domestic violence and it is vital that all possible steps are taken to protect people and to provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision."The pilots here in Greater Manchester and three other areas will provide the evidence to enable this important scheme to become law across the country."

– Hazel Blears MP for Salford and Eccles

For further information about the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, or to make a request for information under it, contact Greater Manchester Police on 101 or the women's domestic abuse helpline, Independent Choices, on 0161 636 7525.