Clare’s Law scheme to be extended across Scotland

A DISCLOSURE scheme which allows men and women to ask police about a partner’s violent past is to be extended nationwide following a successful trial.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with Michael Brown, whose daughter Clare was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. Picture: PA

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday announced the initiative, dubbed Clare’s Law, will be rolled out across the country later this year.

It follows a six-month trial in Aberdeen and Ayrshire which encouraged people to request details of criminal convictions from police if they had concerns about being in an abusive relationship.

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The pilot followed 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.

During the Scottish pilot, 59 applications were lodged for information, leading to 22 disclosures being made.

Ms Sturgeon said: “There is no excuse or place for domestic abuse in Scotland and we need to do all we can to ensure we protect people from what is an abhorrent crime.

“I announced earlier this year new funding of £20 million over the next three years to step up our work to tackle violence against women.

“We are working in partnership to combat domestic abuse and we see Police Scotland’s disclosure scheme for domestic abuse as a vital step forwards. The victims of this unacceptable behaviour are predominantly ­female but males are also targeted.

“We must make sure that everyone is offered protection and information which reduces the risk of harm. I firmly believe that people who have concerns that their partner may have a history of domestic abuse should be able to find out.”

The First Minister was joined at an event in Glasgow yesterday by Miss Wood’s father, Michael Brown.

Miss Wood, 36, was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton.

The mother-of-one met 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.

Mr Brown, who is originally from Aberdeen, said: “I very much welcome the national roll-out of the disclosure scheme across Scotland. It is heartening to see the success of the pilots and to know that the people given these disclosures will now hopefully not be victims of domestic abuse.

“Saving lives and protecting people has to be our ultimate aim; this is what makes all of our efforts worthwhile.” Under the Scottish pilot, anyone with concerns was encouraged to fill out an online form for ­information.

The scheme was 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 Constable Sir Stephen House said: “We will not tolerate domestic abuse. We will tackle it and we will remove those who present the risk because we want to prevent it destroying the lives of its victims and those children who too often witness this abuse.

“By expanding this scheme, there is the potential to protect hundreds of people and to stop them become the victims of abusers, either directly or indirectly. And it is a clear signal to those who would abuse others that they cannot hide and their abusive history will be disclosed if it means protecting others.”

Linda Rodgers, chief executive of Edinburgh Women’s Aid, added: “More than 2,000 women used our services last year. We welcome anything that makes women safer and we look forward to working with our partners in police in government towards a Scotland where everyone, no matter what their community, can live without fear.”

Figures released last week showed the number of domestic abuse incidents recorded by police rose by nearly two per cent in the past year.