Concerned parties can now find out about their partner's criminal past

 

A new scheme is out for a one-year trial period in parts of the country. Clare's Law allows concerned individuals to inquire whether their partner has a violent or abusive past. The scheme is not limited to those directly involved with someone with a possibly dubious past; it also allows suspicious family members, neighbours and officials to seek disclosure of information.
 

Background

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her partner George Appleton. The two met on the social networking site Facebook, and Wood was unaware of Appleton's violent past. He had a criminal record tainted by domestic violence incidents.
 
After her murder, Wood's father campaigned determinedly for the scheme's introduction. Her father was convinced that had it been in place whilst his daughter was alive, it could have saved her life. It will be introduced on a twelve-month trial period in:
 
  • Greater Manchester
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Gwent
  • Wiltshire

False sense of protection?

The scheme has generally been welcomed and it follows the framework of Sarah's Law, which allows parents, and other concerned parties, to find out whether there are sex offenders living in their area. However, professionals have warned that most domestic violence incidents go unreported. As such, the scheme might give women who discover that their partner does not have a criminal record a false sense of protection.
 

What about privacy?

There have been concerns that the scheme will violate privacy, but safeguards have been put in place to ensure that information is only disclosed when a genuine application has been made.
 
The scheme's success will need to be assessed after the trial period, and its weaknesses and strengths will be evaluated before it is determined whether it should be rolled out on a national level. It does not substitute the need for centres that deal with women who have fallen victims of domestic violence. Moreover, many people stress that it is not only women who are the victims of domestic violence. An increasing number of men are falling victims of abuse at the hands of their partners, and resources are needed to ensure their safety.
 
If you'd like any information regarding domestic violence we can put you in touch with an expert solicitor in your area, free of charge. Call us now on 08001 221 2299.
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