New domestic violence bill allows potential victims to discover if their partner has violent past

Potential domestic abuse victims will legally be able to check if their partner has a violent past after a campaign for a domestic violence bill was passed yesterday.

Theresa May unveiled Clare’s Law- a landmark domestic abuse proposal following a campaign initiated by the father of Clare Wood, who in 2009 died after being strangled and set on fire by her boyfriend.

Clare Wood had made several complaints to the police regarding her former boyfriend, George Appleton, but was unaware that he had previously served a three-year prison sentence for harassing another woman.

Clare’s Law will allow a person to check with police if they are concerned that a partner or someone they know may have a record of violence or pose a risk to another person.

Information will be disclosed to a member of public in what is known as a ‘right to ask’ and agencies can now also request information to protect a potential victim known as a ‘right to know’.

Previously police have had discretion to whether they choose to provide information, but the new bill will give anyone the legal right to check on a potential partner.

The Telegraph have cited that concerns have arisen over how effective this system has fared after collected data from the Office for National Statistics showed only 44 per cent of concerns made by people resulted in any disclosure of information.

Campaigners have declared that the bill does not do enough to tackle the problem and they cannot see how this will protect victims, however, domestic violence charity Women’s Aid have backed the reform.

The charity hope it is an opportunity to ensure that survivors get the help they need, however, they have cited that the legislation will be undermined if survivors cannot escape to safety or access the support.

They reported that one day in 2017, 94 women and 90 children were turned away from refuge. Women’s Aid are therefore campaigning for sustainable funding for domestic abuse services from the government.

Theresa May declared that, as part of the law, a domestic abuse commissioner would be elected and a statutory government definition of domestic abuse will be introduced, which includes non-physical and economic forms of mistreatment.

The Prime Minister told The Telegraph: “The domestic abuse bill will lead the way in bringing about the changes we need to achieve this and represents a step-change in our approach”.

The Home Office published that in 2018, two million adults ages 16-59 had experienced domestic abuse.


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