Father welcomes Clare's Law rollout

Salisbury Journal: Clare Wood's death sparked the campaign to reform the law. Clare Wood's death sparked the campaign to reform the law.

A father whose daughter was murdered by an ex-boyfriend with a secret violent past today said he was "absolutely delighted" women across the country have today been given the "right to know" their partner's history.

The scheme, known as Clare's Law is named after Clare Wood, 36, who was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Clare's Law gives women for the first time the right to know if a partner has a history of domestic violence and is being rolled out to police forces across England and Wales following a successful pilot scheme.

Clare Wood's father, Michael Brown, a retired prison officer from Batley, West Yorkshire, who spearheaded the "right to know" campaign after his daughter's murder in 2009, said today: "I'm absolutely delighted."

"I must admit it's tinged with a bit of emotion and a bit of sadness but we have got what we were fighting for - to bring protection into the country for half the population."

Mr Brown, along with Salford MP Hazel Blears and Manchester radio station, Key 103, lobbied Home Secretary Theresa May to bring in the scheme.

Mr Brown, originally from Aberdeen, told Key 103: "I couldn't but thank Theresa May for taking the decision to roll the scheme out across the country.

"I would like to go back to the man that nobody knew, but I have comes down this path and I am delighted to have come out at the end of it, and I'm sure my daughter would be up there clapping."

The initiative, officially called the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, is designed to provide victims with information that may protect them from a potentially abusive situation.

Following a request, the scheme allows the police to disclose information about a partner's previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.

Miss Wood, a mother-of-one, had met Appleton on Facebook, unaware of his horrific history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one of his ex-girlfriends.

He went on the run after killing his ex-girlfriend and was dubbed the "Facebook Fugitive" before hanging himself while still at large.

Mr Brown added: "I can remember standing outside the coroner's office feeling lost....I'd lost a daughter and I thought I'd lost the battle. I wish I'd known what I know now because I felt desolate and for the pendulum to swing so far around, that has put a smile back on my face, it's hardly worth believing.

"It's there to be used. Get it used, ask! If you are in a domestic violence situation or you think you could be seek advice and get out of there, because the ultimate is 120 women a year have lost their lives, mostly at a young age."

Today's national roll-out has been chosen by the Home Secretary to coincide with International Women's Day and follows a 14-month pilot scheme in four police force areas, which provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information.

Today also marks the national launch of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs). This new power will enable police and magistrates' courts to provide protection to victims in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident.

Mrs May said: "Domestic abuse shatters lives and this Government is working hard to provide police and local authorities with the tools they need to keep women and girls safe.

"Clare's Law and DVPOs are just two of a raft of measures we have introduced to hand control back to the victim by ensuring they can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary.

"Protection for victims is improving but sadly there are still too many cases where vulnerable people are let down.

"I am determined to see a society where violence against women and girls is not tolerated, where people speak out, and where no woman or girl has to suffer domestic abuse."

DVPOs can be used to provide immediate protection to a victim where there is not enough evidence to charge an alleged perpetrator and provide protection to victims via bail conditions.

They can last for up to 28 days, during which time the perpetrator can be prevented from having contact with the victim, giving them the opportunity to make decisions about their future safety with the help of a support agency.

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