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‘Clare’s Law is already helping tragic victims of domestic abuse’

May 28, 2014

THE BRUTAL murder of a woman five years ago is pointing the way to a new era of openness in spotting the early signs of domestic abuse.

And “good will triumph over evil” as people across Staffordshire are asking for information about whether their partners have a history of domestic abuse under new rules which came into force in March.

Our Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has already received 16 applications under the county’s domestic violence disclosure scheme, known as ‘Clare’s Law’.

I’m overseeing a review and reform of services on behalf of the OPCC – so that victims of domestic abuse are supported in ways that recognise their individual circumstances and needs better.

Under ‘Clare’s Law’, people with concerns about their partner can ask for information about whether they have previous history of domestic abuse or violent acts.

A panel – made up of police, probation services and other agencies – check requests to make sure all information passed on is lawful, proportionate and necessary.

Domestic abuse in any form is unacceptable.

I would encourage anyone who may have suspicions about their partner’s history to act now, using ‘Clare’s Law’, and save themselves from pain in the future.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner published its strategy last year, setting out how it intended to tackle domestic abuse as a priority.

Work is already underway through new investment and better systems that will see all victims of any crime in Staffordshire offered support.

Victims of domestic abuse will receive better specialist support than ever before which is exactly what they deserve.

The best support for potential victims is to stop abuse happening in the first place, which is where ‘Clare’s Law’ comes in.

clare woodThe new rules take their name from 36-year-old Clare Wood, pictured, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford, near Manchester. The murder took place in February 2009 – four months after she ended her relationship with him.

Appleton subjected her to an appalling ordeal, raping and strangling her in her bed and then setting fire to her body – all because she had rejected him.

A nationwide hunt was launched for Appleton, who became known as the Facebook Fugitive after it emerged he had attempted to use the social networking site to lure other female victims.

Three days later, his body was found hanging in a derelict pub in Manchester. He’d committed suicide.

Clare’s family discovered her murderer had a history of violence towards women, including harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of a former girlfriend.

The missed opportunities in this tragedy, and the knowledge that Clare’s killer had a terrifying history of violence towards women, is the driving force behind Clare’s Law.

Assistant chief constable Nick Baker said: “Domestic abuse shatters lives.

“It can not only affect the victim but any children living with them and the wider family. It is rarely a one off and tends to escalate in frequency and severity over time.

“Victims often blame themselves and can make excuses about the offender’s behaviour.

“This initiative can help people who are concerned about this type of crime to feel reassured that they don’t have to suffer and help is available.”

  • This is the second campaign I’m spearheading – the other involves highlighting the awful illegal practice of female genital mutilation.
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