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Clare’s Law

Single Mother Ahoy Clare's Law

Do you know your partner’s past?
Could you guarantee, without a shadow of a doubt, that he (or she) has never been abusive in the past?
Clare Wood was murdered by a violent ex partner in 2009. She had made several complaints to the police about him before her death. Her murderer had previously been in prison for three years, for harassing another woman, and for six months for breaking a restraining order. But Clare Wood had no way of knowing about this when she began her relationship with him.

After her death, Clare’s family campaigned to make sure something could be done to prevent this happening to anyone else.
Last year, Clare’s Law (the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme) was piloted in four counties in the UK, including Wiltshire (where I am).
Under the new law, if you are in a relationship with someone, and you’re not sure of their past – or you just want some peace of mind – you can ask the police for information about them. You do this, in the first instance, by dailling 101 and stating you want to make a request for information under Clare’s Law.
The police will take details from you regarding yourself and your partner, and will then go off to investigate further.
Things you need to know about Clare’s Law:
  • You can only request information about a current partner. The police cannot give you information about family members, acquaintances, ex partners (even if they are the father of your child).
  • A friend or relative can make an enquiry on your behalf, if they are worried about your involvement with someone. In this instance, I think the police will still contact you with the information, rather than your friend or relative.
  • The police can only tell you about previous domestic incidents, and convictions for violence they feel are relevant.
  • If your partner is a convicted armed robber, a confidence trickster, suspected of fraud or burglary, the police cannot tell you this. But if he had a fight with his brother, at home, and the police were called, they will tell you that.
  • Before they divulge anything to you, the police have to inform the person you are enquiring about. That person can’t stop them from divulging information, but they do have to know what you will be told.
  • If there is information to be divulged, the police will assess the situation and decide how best to proceed. If they feel you are at risk, they may ask you to come into the station to be told what you need to know, so that they can help you to escape a dangerous situation if that is what you want.
  • In my experience, once the police feel you are at risk, they are very supportive in helping you to feel safer.
  • They will always ask you if you feel that you are at risk in your current situation, and why you are asking for this information; whether you have any suspicions.
  • The most important thing you need to know is that most perpetrators of domestic abuse do not have a police record. The police cannot tell you what they do not know. Just because they come back with no information does not mean you are safe. If this law had been in place when I began my relationship with my ex, I would still have been none the wiser because until I spoke to the police about him, I don’ t think anyone else had.
  • That said, the police can (controversially) divulge previous allegations of abuse, even if there were no charges/conviction.
There have been mixed responses to Clare’s Law. Many charities have said the money could have been better spent on helping women to leave abusive situations. They are not wrong. But in my opinion, being able to check whether a prospective partner has ever been involved in domestic violence before is a good thing. There are many, many other things that need to be done to ensure women are safe, but this is a good start.
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Vicky is a mother, a blogger, a podcaster and a social media trainer. She writes about life as a single mother, parenting and lifestyle type things.

20 Comments
  • me3andfree

      REPLY

    Enjoyed reading your post. Very informative. Didn't realise the Police have to tell the person in question the information they hold before telling the person inquiring. Raises question over what effect that could have on the relationship? Or have I got it wrong? :)

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      no, you're absolutely right. As far as I know, they contact the person and say "there's been this request for information, and this is what we're going to tell them." I think they do take steps to protect the potential victim; they ask at every step whether you feel threatened, whether you're in danger. If they have something of consequence to tell you, you're asked

  • Unknown

      REPLY

    I can't see the point if they are going to tell your partner - surely that will cause issues in itself and put you at higher risk? I would think that if you have to ask the question, you ought not to be in the relationship - not that I have experienced this first hand but my instinct would be to agree that better support for women to leave would perhaps have been better use of the money

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      The part about telling your partner - I suppose the only way they can get this past the Data Protection Act is to inform the person what will be said about them. It&#39;s not great, I agree.<br />With regard to asking the question meaning you shouldn&#39;t be in the relationship - I disagree. My experience with an abusive relationship means that I find it very, VERY hard to trust any man and this

    2. Kirsty Stitfall

        REPLY

      Thanks for your reply - I take your point re how hard it is to trust anyone now.

    3. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      In the last couple of days three people have commented to me about finding a new partner. The truth is, as much as I am lonely and would love to meet someone, I really can&#39;t see that ever happening.

  • Samara Norton

      REPLY

    I really like this law but have my concerns regarding the police informing the suppose suspect. It kind of got me thinking, is that really safe? What if the person turns against the victim before the information reaches them. Thanks for posting this was very informative.

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      Thank you for your comment; I agree, it&#39;s not ideal that the person is informed about what information will be disclosed - but the Data Protection Act is a hard one to get around, and I should imagine it took a lot of doing to get to the point where any information could be released at all.<br />I have to say, my local police force are very supportive in domestic violence situations, but I&#

  • Samara Norton

      REPLY

    I really like this law but have my concerns with the police informing the suppose suspect about the person inquiring the information. It has me thinking, is it safe? What if the person goes back and hurts them because of that. This is very informative thanks for posting this.

  • The Mini Mes and Me

      REPLY

    I agree with the other comments re telling the person. I understand the importance of data protection but if I would like to know about someone&#39;s past I wouldn&#39;t ask if I knew they would be informed x

  • mel mcgovern

      REPLY

    It doesn&#39;t sound very helpful that the police will inform the person who has been asked about, might even prompt an aggressive incident.<br />It is good that abuse allegations are made known as abusers are manipulative and persuasive and will try everything to get themselves off the hook.<br />A social worker presented me with my ex&#39;s arrest record. I had seen a CRB with criminal damage

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      I agree, it&#39;s not ideal but I think it&#39;s the only way they can get around DPA.<br />I wonder why a CRB - which is generally used when you&#39;re going to be in a position of trust, caring for vulnerable people etc - wouldn&#39;t show that there was evidence of domestic abuse. Surely that is something a potential employer in that line of work would need to know? Abusive people often go

  • Rebecca Phillips

      REPLY

    I think it&#39;s a good idea, but I agree with the other comments about telling the person that you&#39;re requesting the information about!<br /><br /><a href="http://mumofaprematurebaby.blogspot.co.uk" rel="nofollow">Mum of a Premature Baby ||</a>

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      It does seem silly but I guess they&#39;ve got to cover their own backs - especially because they&#39;re giving out when there&#39;s been a complaint without necessarily a conviction. Offenders could probably sue if they weren&#39;t informed.

  • Laura Huggins

      REPLY

    I have always supported this since I heard about it. I don&#39;t think that the person who you are requesting information about should be told though. That can create more problems. There must have been some way they could have got around that. <br /><br />Laura x

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      I think they had trouble getting any of it past DPA to be honest but yeah, it would make more sense if the person wasn&#39;t aware of what was being said. Not only does it put the woman in danger, it can also give them a chance to make excuses and come up with more lies - &quot;that was just my ex, she hated me because I dumped her...&quot;

  • pinkoddy

      REPLY

    I think if you are asking yourself whether this person has a past then you know that they are being abusive to you and maybe it is a way of finding a way out. I have been in a very abusive relationship but it would never occur to me to ask the police about my current partner - and it would really upset him if the police came and told him I&#39;d enquired. Very thought provoking - thank you for

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      Thanks for your comment. For me, I&#39;ve used the service when starting a new relationship *since* I was with S&#39;s father - to provide some sort of peace of mind.<br />As far as I know, if they have nothing to disclose, the police will not approach the person you&#39;ve enquired about.<br />My dealings with the police, with regard to domestic abuse, have been very reassuring. But I&#39;m

  • Deborah Patrick

      REPLY

    What a great informative post! Coming from a domestically violent background myself, I wish this was active when I would&#39;ve needed it all those years ago. <br /><br />Thank you for linking up with this weeks Mad Mid-Week Blog Hop! xx

  • Anonymous

      REPLY

    I think the need for Clare&#39;s law flags up the leniency of the law against domestic abusers.<br /><br />A lot of abusers have strings of cautions etc as the police are reliant on the very damaged victim.<br /><br />

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