Clare’s Law to be introduced across Suffolk to help stop domestic abuse

A new law is being rolled out across Suffolk to help stop domestic abuse.

Clare's Law - named after Clare Wood who was murdered by ex-boyfriend George Appleton - was launched as a year-long pilot scheme in Greater Manchester, Gwent, Wiltshire and Nottingham, and following its success will be rolled out across Suffolk from tomorrow.

Ms Wood, 36, was killed by Appleton at her home in Salford in February 2009. The mother-of-one met him on Facebook, unaware of his history of violence against women including repeated harassment, threats and the knifepoint kidnapping of another ex-girlfriend.

The law, also known at the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, gives individuals in a relationship and those directly concerned about that individual, such as family and close friends, the power to find out if a person has an abusive past.

The successful pilot provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information and from tomorrow those with concerns about a partner's history will be able to request background information from Suffolk Constabulary.

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Detective Superintendent David Cutler, head of protecting vulnerable people for Suffolk Police said: 'We are committed to supporting and protecting those suffering domestic abuse and welcome any legislation that will assist us to do this.

'It represents a valuable addition to existing safeguarding measures and will enhance the efforts of all agencies and the public to keep vulnerable individuals safe.

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'Clare's Law enables potential victims to take control of their life and make informed decisions about whether to stay with someone or not. It may be that somebody is in a relationship but feels unhappy about some of the behaviour of their partner is showing. If warning bells are ringing, then we would want to hear from you.'

The introduction of Clare's Law comes during part of a week-long national focus on domestic abuse, where forces across the country are explaining what they do to protect victims of abuse and highlighting the support available from charities, local authorities, social services and probation services in a bid to encourage more people living with domestic abuse to seek help. Domestic abuse is also the current priority of Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore.

He said: 'I am 100 per cent behind Clare's Law and will support the constabulary to make sure it works well in Suffolk. We need to do all we can to try and rid our county of domestic abuse and protect vulnerable individuals from becoming victims.

'As a civilised society we must not tolerate this kind of totally unacceptable behaviour. We are currently investigating how new technology can help provide individual protection and full implementation of Clare's Law is an essential contribution to making Suffolk a safer place in which to live, work, travel and invest.'

From October 1 to December 31 last year there were 2,102 recorded incidents of domestic abuse - an 11 per cent increase compared to the same quarter in 2012. Nearly a quarter of the cases had experienced abuse before and 74.6 per cent of the crimes committed were of a violent nature, with 38 per cent resulting in the victim suffering some form of injury.

The disclosure of people's history of domestic violence can be triggered in two ways: Right-to-Ask, where people can apply to police for information and Right-to-Know, where police can pro-actively disclose information in prescribed circumstances.

Clare's Law is one of two initiatives being extended nationwide in a bid to tackle the emotive issue of domestic abuse.

Suffolk Constabulary has taken the necessary steps to ensure the appropriate training and education has been put in place in time for the weekend.

People will be able to make an application under the scheme by calling 101 and speaking to a call taker who will record the details of the application.

However the scheme does not replace the existing arrangements for responding to situations where there is an imminent risk of harm to an individual, and in an emergency people should still dial 999.

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