The devastating murder of Clare Wood at the hands of her violent ex-boyfriend George Appleton in February 2009 was the event that brought into effect the scheme known as Clare’s Law. This piloted policy allows women to check police records to see if a new partner has a violent past. Such a scheme could generally be viewed as an effective way to tackle the domestic violence that is so prevalent in society today. Last year 88 women in the UK were killed by a violent partner or ex-partner according to then Home Secretary, Theresa May. These statistics prove that something needs to be done, and therefore the principle of Clare’s Law is a positive move.
However, Refuge, a main charity which helps the victims of domestic violence, is against the pilot scheme. They feel many women in violent relationships will be put in more danger. They reason that the actual event of leaving a violent partner is the main trigger for murder in such circumstances.
There is also the issue of privacy. Could this law make women feel they have the right to police check every man they want to enter into a relationship with, with no time limit being enforced? A man may have been involved in criminal activity or have a police record which are in no way related to violent behaviour. Would these also become public knowledge to a woman enquiring into someone’s background? Such a law could be viewed as a breach of privacy or data protection.
There is also the issue of trust. Is the man made aware of such checks beforehand, and what if they come up with no results at all? There has to be a method to regulate Clare’s Law so that a police check can only be made if there is a clear and present danger to an individual, otherwise such a scheme could be abused and not used for the purpose for which it was intended. The ultimate aim is to protect women from violent men that prey on the vulnerable and these people need to be dealt with by the law.