What is Clare's Law and how could it alert you to a potential domestic violence threat?

In February 2009, the country was shocked by the murder of Clare Wood.

The 36-year-old from Salford was killed by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, who had previously served prison sentences for stalking, harassing and abusing women.

After her death, her family said she would never have entered into the relationship had she known of Appleton’s violent past - and campaigned for a way to alert potential victims of domestic violence of a partner’s prior offences, known as Clare’s Law.

Clare Wood was murdered by her former partner Credit: Family handout

What is Clare's Law?

Clare's Law - or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) - deals primarily with convictions for violent or abusive behaviour.

Under the scheme, individuals can ask police to check whether a new or existing partner has a violent past (the ‘right to ask’).

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

The Manchester Safeguarding Partnership said: “The aim of the scheme is to give people an opportunity to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, and there is a concern that the individual may be abusive towards their partner.

“If police checks show that the individual has a record of offences relating to abuse or there is other information to indicate the person you know is at risk, the police will consider sharing this information with the person(s) best placed to protect the potential victim”

How does Clare's Law work?

The scheme gives a member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them.

The Met Police says it also allows "a member of the public to make an enquiry into the partner of a close friend or family member".

Most police forces have an online form that people can fill in, which is then evaluated by officers, who decide whether to inform them of the results.

Clare’s Law applies primarily to reveal prior convictions for violent and/or abusive behaviour.

For other offences, such as sexual offences, there is a separate disclosure scheme, called Sarah's Law.

Domestic Abuse helplines


Fortalice is a Refuge for women and their children escaping domestic abuse.

Their 24 hour advice line for Bolton is 01204 365677, or you can call them on 01204 701846.

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Refuge supports more than 6,000 clients on any one day, helping them rebuild their lives and overcome many different forms of violence and abuse - including domestic violence, sexual violence, so-called ‘honour’-based violence, human trafficking and modern slavery, and female genital mutilation

  • If you, or someone you care about, is experiencing domestic abuse, you can phone The National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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Women's Aid

Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. They have been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic violence and abuse through practice for over 45 years.

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Men's Advice Line

Men’s Advice Line is a team of friendly Advisors who will listen and believe you. Its focus is to increase the safety of men experiencing domestic abuse, and the safety of any children, by providing confidential support.

  • You can call on 0808 8010 327 for non-judgemental information and support.

  • Lines are open Monday and Wednesday, 9am to 8pm, and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9am to 5pm

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The Mankind Initiative is the principal, expert and specialist charity in the UK focussing on male victims of domestic abuse. The charity collaborates and works in close partnership with other organisations and practitioners to support these victims too. It was the first in Great Britain to support male victims.

  • You can call ManKind on 01823 334 244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)

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Merseyside Domestic Violence Service

Merseyside Domestic Violence Services (MDVS) formally known as Chrysalis is a registered charity working with women, men, children, young people and families whose lives have been affected in some way by the issues related to domestic violence and cultural/honour based crime.

For assistance call or text 07802 722703, or email info@mdvs.org

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