Clare’s Law will inform those who are at risk

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Clare’s Law is just another ‘tool in the kitbag’ in the fight against domestic violence according to the top cop in charge of battling the crime in Herts.

The scheme is to be rolled out nationally and will reach the county in March next year.

Det Chief Insp Julie Wheatley, from the Hets Police County Community Safety Unit, said: “This is just another little tool in the kitbag. It is definitely not the panacea but if it is something else that helps us to intervene at an early stage it has got to be a good thing.”

Piloted in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent, the initiative is named after Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her Salford home in February 2009.

It will work in a similar way to the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme – sometimes referred to as Megan’s Law, a similar but more far reaching US version of legislation- launched locally in 2011.

It allows anyone with a domestic violence concern about someone – who could be a partner, relative, friend or neighbour – to inform the police, who can then look into the individual’s history.

A panel will then consider the findings and decide whether the information should be released. It will only be given to the individual – usually a partner – who is deemed to be at risk.

“It will be the police getting all the information and building up that picture and then making the decision on whether that information should be released,” said Det Chief Insp Wheatley. “It won’t be released to just anyone. It will be released to the person who is at risk – it must be someone who is in an intimate relationship.”

Partner agencies, such as social services and probation, may also be brought in at the decision making stage.

The charity Refuge has criticised the scheme saying it will only help a few individuals and more support is needed for the majority of victims.

But Det Chief Insp Wheatley, who said the force has ploughed resources in combating domestic violence in recent years, welcomed the scheme and said it is not a solution but a helpful tool officers can use.

“It is the area of the business that we have put most of our resources into. 88 women across the country were killed last year, so why wouldn’t you?”

She said Clare’s Law will require a bit more admin but added that it will not be onerous on officers. So far this year there have been 6,560 reports of domestic violence in Herts, which is up 214 on the same period last year.