Clare's Law: A history of violence

Campaign went to downing street Photo: PA
Campaign for Clare's Law Credit: PA

Dozens of women in Greater Manchester have come forward to use Clare's Law to discover if they are at risk of domestic violence from a partner, police said today.

The year-long pilot scheme was introduced last September in Greater Manchester, Gwent, Wiltshire and Nottingham.

It was named after Clare Wood, 36, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford in February 2009.

The mother-of-one had met Appleton on Facebook, unaware of his history of violence against women including repeated harassment, threats and the knifepoint kidnapping of another ex-girlfriend.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said 65 people had applied for a disclosure about a boyfriend or an individual who was in a relationship with someone they knew.

A further 25 applications were submitted by agencies where it was felt somebody might be at risk.

Police granted 53 disclosures on application, while in other cases the partner did not have a record of violent offences or there was no information that a risk was present.

Detective Superintendent Phil Owen from GMP's Public Protection Division said: "Sadly we know only too well the devastating consequences that domestic abuse has and we welcome any initiative that helps to protect victims of domestic abuse and prevent further crime.

"However, for an area as large and diverse as Greater Manchester we would have liked to have seen a greater take up either from those in a relationship or from friends, relatives or neighbours concerned about the possible risk posed to somebody they care about.

"The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare's Law) is a preventative measure and enables potential victims to take control of their life and make an informed decision about whether to stay with somebody or not. It may be that somebody is in a relationship but isn't happy about some of the behaviour of their partner. If warning bells are ringing, then these are the types of people we want to hear from."

Clare Wood

Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: "Clare's Law is one of a number of measures being used to tackle domestic violence - a heinous crime which we hear the tragic consequences of time and time again. It has already seen some good results but we need to continue raising awareness of the scheme and work together to rid society of this terrible crime which has untold, long-lasting effects on victims and, importantly, long-lasting effects on their children.

"Tragically, it's too late for Clare, but if Clare's Law stops even just one woman facing the same fate than that is a lasting legacy which hopefully brings some comfort to her family.

"Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please don't suffer in silence. Help is available and I encourage you to come forward so you can get the support and care you deserve."

Hazel Blears, the Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, who joined Clare Wood's father Michael Brown in campaigning for the disclosure scheme, said: "Two women are killed every week by a current or former partner, and tragically, my constituent Clare Wood was one of them.

"Had she known about her partner's violent past she would have been empowered to end the relationship at an early stage and that is why I campaigned for Clare's Law.

"I'm told that women in Salford who have used the scheme have been glad they did - and I am pleased to see more is being done to publicise it.

"If that results in more women knowing they can use Clare's Law to reduce the risk of becoming long-term victims of domestic abuse then it will have been well worthwhile."

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 visit a police station.