Salmond backs Scots version of Clare’s Law

Alex Salmond. Picture:  Neil Hanna
Alex Salmond. Picture: Neil Hanna
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WOMEN in Scotland could be given the right to find out from police if their partner has a history of domestic violence, Alex Salmond has indicated.

The Scottish Government is looking “very seriously” at adopting a Scottish version of “Clare’s Law” which has been introduced in England and Wales, MSPs were told during First Minister’s Questions.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson called for the measure to be made available in Scotland after a successful pilot in four areas led to a widespread roll-out south of the Border.

Mr Salmond said the issue is under “active consideration” by ministers.

“If it can be justified and if it will improve the position of women in Scotland then just as we’ve introduced a range of measures, we’ll look at this very seriously and positively,” the First Minister said.

“If it can work and will improve the lot of women then we would introduce it.”

The First Minister said that a similar “disclosure idea” in relation to sexual offences was introduced in Scotland after successful pilots south of the

Border.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme was introduced in England with the aim of preventing women becoming victims of an attack, although men can also ask for information.

The pilots showed a third of applications saw relevant information being disclosed.

It was named after 36-year-old Clare Wood, who was murdered in 2009 by an ex-boyfriend with a record of violence against women.

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

Latest figures show one in five women in Scotland is likely to experience domestic violence, with 60,000 cases reported a year.

Ms Davidson said the measure allowed women in England and Wales to access “vital information which could save them from abuse”.

The Tories are now calling for an amendment to the Criminal Justice Scotland Bill which is currently going through Holyrood so Clare’s Law can be introduced here “as quickly as possible”.

Lily Greenan, of Scottish Women’s Aid, said she backed any measures which would protect women.

But she said: “Our only concern is we don’t want to get into a situation where if women have information that someone they’ve got into a relationship with is considered to be a danger, they are then deemed liable for their own abuse if anything happens to them.

“People go into relationships thinking the best of a person, but this gives us something additional in relation to those who are charged and convicted.”

Under the scheme in England, requests for information are considered by a panel of police, probation service and other agencies to ensure information is passed on only where it is lawful and necessary.

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