Domestic violence sufferers asked to share Clare’s Law experiences

Victims of domestic abuse who have accessed Clare’s Law are asked to share their experiences as part of a research project.

The legislation named in memory of Clare Wood, 36, who was murdered by an ex-partner, was rolled out in England and Wales in 2014 as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS).

The scheme enables police to disclose normally confidential information about a person’s criminal history to someone who is deemed to be at risk of future abuse, so they can make informed choices about their safety.

The number of disclosures made under Clare’s Law nearly doubled from 3,410 in the year ending March 2017 to 6,583 in the year ending March 2019, say researchers at Lancaster University – but little is known about how victims and survivors rated the scheme.

Murderer George Appleton had a history of violence against women
Murderer George Appleton had a history of violence against women

Dr Charlotte Barlow, of Lancaster University, is leading a research project, which is funded by the British Academy, and has previously explored police responses to coercive control.

She said: “Victim and survivors’ voices are often silenced and with this research we want to ensure they have the opportunity for their experiences and perspectives to be heard.”

Ms Wood was strangled and set on fire at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009 by George Appleton, who had a record of violence against women.

Her father, Michael Brown, campaigned for the introduction of Clare’s Law and the “right to know” about a person’s history of violence. He believed his daughter would still be alive if she had known more of Appleton’s background.

Harrowing Eastenders domestic violence storyline
Harrowing Eastenders domestic violence storyline

Domestic violence is currently featuring in a harrowing storyline in BBC1 soap EastEnders, in which Chantelle (Jessica Plummer) is suffering physical and mental abuse at the hands of her husband Gray (Toby Alexander-Smith).

In the first week of July, as lockdown lifted, domestic violence charity Refuge saw a 54% rise in women contacting its helpline needing emergency accommodation, compared with the last week in June.

Anyone with experience of Clare’s Law who would be happy to be interviewed about their experience can contact Dr Barlow at c.barlow@lancaster.ac.uk