There has been a lot of recent coverage of the so called 'Clare's Law that will force the police to answer questions raised by women and men about their partner's convictions for violence or sex crimes. However, this will not be extended to allow the police to disclose information to family or friends who may be worried about a loved one's new partner. The police will have the right to reject requests. There are four trial areas, of which, Salford Greater Manchester is one.
The information will only be released by senior police officers after they have fully satisfied themselves any concerns are genuine.
Whilst a number of organisations offering support for the victims of domestic violence such as REFUGE have come out against this move as a waste of resources, is that really correct? Yes, it is true the police already have discretion as to the provision of information where they think it necessary. However, this move more empowers the police.
One difficulty is that recent statistics refer to 84% of domestic violence being unreported. However, that should not necessarily be a criticism of this trial. Rather, more publicity should go into highlighting the need for domestic violence to be reported and not suffered in silence.
I understand that in 2010, 94 women and 21 men were murdered by their partner or ex-partner (more than two a week!). Surely, therefore, anything that can assist the release of this information to people who might have had a threat or suffered a single occasion of domestic violence must be a good thing. They can then arm themselves with the knowledge they could otherwise perhaps only guess at.
It has been my experience that often in these situations a perpetrator of domestic violence will blame the victim for causing what will have been insisted upon as a "one off” or unusual act on their part.
The irony is that much of the argument against the effectiveness of this provision by support groups targets the police response to the 999 call (and lack of earlier police involvement following earlier threats with an iron bar) that led to her death.
There is, quite rightly, understood to be overwhelming support for this move. Perhaps people should more readily make this enquiry given that increasingly, people are getting together, not as a result of mutual longstanding friends or associations, but through the Internet dating and social media.