Women check up on partners in ‘Clare’s Law’ pilot

People can request details of criminal convictions if they have concerns about being in an abusive relationship. Picture: TSPL
People can request details of criminal convictions if they have concerns about being in an abusive relationship. Picture: TSPL
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FIFTEEN applications for information have been made in the first three weeks of a new domestic abuse disclosure scheme which allows women to check up on violent partners.

The pilot scheme, which began in Aberdeen and Ayrshire on 25 November, encourages people to request details of criminal convictions from police if they have concerns about being in an abusive relationship.

It follows the success of a disclosure scheme already adopted in England and known as “Clare’s Law” after 36-year-old Clare Wood, who was murdered in Salford, Greater Manchester in 2009 by a man she had met on Facebook.

Police said ten applications for information had been made by members of the public, with the remaining five coming from professionals in agencies such as the police or social services.

Detective Inspector Deborah Barton, manager of Police Scotland’s Domestic Abuse Co-ordination Unit, said the response so far had been even better than expected.

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She said: “We’ve got 15 applications to the scheme, which is an absolutely fantastic response. We had a look at the four pilots in England and Wales and the number of applications there was quite small, so to get 15 in three weeks in something we’re very heartened by.”

She said each application for information could take up to 45 days to be processed, but could be speeded up in special circumstances. “We have to make sure that any disclosure of information is lawful, necessary and proportionate,” she said. “If it doesn’t fall within those categories, then we can’t disclose.

“We’re about to launch our festive campaign on domestic abuse and the message is that there is no hiding place for abusers. Domestic abuse is a priority for Police Scotland, both targetting the perpetrators and providing safeguards for the victims and their families.”

The pilot scheme was launched last month by Michael Brown, the Scottish father of Ms Wood, who was strangled and set on fire by ex-boyfriend George Appleton. Ms Wood repeatedly contacted police in the months leading up to her death with concerns about Appleton, who had been jailed twice for harassing women.

According to the Home Office, a 14-month pilot in four police force areas which followed Ms Wood’s death provided more than 100 people with “potentially life-saving” information. The scheme has now been adopted nationally south of the border.

Under the Scottish pilot, anyone with concerns is encouraged to fill out an online form for information, with every ­request judged case by case.

The scheme is split between the Right to Ask and the Power to Tell, which allows the authorities to warn someone they believe to be at risk.

Chief Superintendent Gillian McDonald, head of Police Scotland’s Ayrshire division, said her officers now worked to trace previous partners of abusers as part of a multi-agency approach to improving support for victims.

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