Clare's Law: Thousands learn of partners' abusive pasts under new scheme

The abusive pasts of more than 1,300 violent partners have been disclosed under a scheme introduced less than a year ago, new figures reveal.

Clare's Law, named after Clare Wood - who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend, allows the police to disclose information about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.

At least 1,335 disclosures have been made in England and Wales under the law following 3,760 applications, figures obtained by the Press Association show.

Other figures also revealed that courts have granted 2,220 domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs), which can be used to protect victims by preventing perpetrator from contacting them.

Clare's Law was rolled out nationally in March last year, following a 14-month pilot in Gwent, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Greater Manchester, while DVPOs were launched in the same month following a one-year pilot in West Mercia, Wiltshire and Greater Manchester.

Miss Wood's father Michael Brown, who campaigned for the scheme to be introduced, said he was "quietly delighted" by news that the law is being used, but fears the figures "are only the tip of the iceberg" with many still too frightened to come forward.

Michael Brown has campaigned for the introduction of the scheme. Credit: PA Wire

Outside the four forces involved with the Clare's Law pilot, Lancashire had the highest number of disclosures at 146, while Norfolk had made five disclosures, the lowest level.

Concerns have been raised over the wide regional variation in the likelihood of a disclosure being approved.

For example, in Greater Manchester, more than 60% of cases were disclosed, while in Merseyside the figure is 11%.

Labour MP Hazel Blears, who campaigned with Mr Brown, said she would write to Home Secretary Theresa May to ask why the law was being applied in different ways by police forces.

Miss Wood, 36, was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton - who had a history of violence towards women - at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Appleton was found dead six days after Miss Wood's death, hanged in a derelict pub.

Mr Brown, 71, a retired prison officer, said he hoped the number of people using the law would "snowball".

This is just people that are coming to the fore.

Michael Brown