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Domestic violence: charity urges rename of Clare’s Law

A male domestic abuse charity has urged that a disclosure scheme known as “Clare’s Law” not be referred to by that name.

Officially titled the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, Clare’s Law allows people to find out from the Police if their romantic partner has a history of violence. It was named after Clare Wood, who was killed by her former boyfriend back in 2009. The perpetrator, George Appleton, had a record of committing violent crimes against women but Clare did not know that. Her father insists that she would still be alive if she had been aware of Appleton’s pattern of behaviour.

Clare’s Law was launched in 2014 and within a year, Police received more than 3,000 requests for information and made 1,335 disclosures of violent records. Despite this apparent success, male victims of domestic violence have reportedly not taken advantage of the scheme.

ManKind honorary patron and domestic abuse survivor Ian McNicholl submitted a Freedom of Information request to West Mercia Police and found that only nine men had asked for information under Clare’s Law.

McNicholl believes the widely-used name could be the reason that so few men take advantage of the scheme.  He asked:

“Had this legislation been available to me, why would I have taken advantage of Clare’s Law? Why would I even think that Clare’s Law applied to me?”

He claimed that the name was “not gender inclusive” and that it was “now absolutely clear that the terminology used is creating barriers”. The scheme represents “life-changing legislation [which] is available to both females and males” but “men must be encouraged to come forward and seek help” McNicholl said.

ManKind chairman Mark Brooks agreed, adding that “not enough men and professionals think this legislation also applies to men”. It was important to promote the scheme more, he said, so that “professionals will make men aware that the legislation applies to them”.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. steve humann says:

    What men need to know in addition to their partners’ possible history of violence is their history of false accusations. Too bad those data aren’t assembled as well. Probably something to do with such false accusations being so rarely prosecuted. I wouldn’t be surprised if any such data is protected by misused rape-shield laws.

    • Stitchedup says:

      Only proven history not possible history of serious DV should be disclosed. I agree that a history of false allegations or allegations that resulted in no further action should also be disclosed. I have recently ended a relationship with a woman when I discovered, and she admitted, playing the game and making allegations about her ex during het divorce. Of course, they claim their solicitors put them up to it, but being an adult and knowing the police/cps have a positive action and no drop policy, they really should know better and fully understand the devastating consequences of a case being taken forward on a no drop basis which they are powerless to stop. Once that train starts moving you can’t stop it by saying “it was all in the heat of the moment”.

  2. Andrew says:

    It’s particularly important that this law – whatever name you give it – be available to fathers who have concerns about a mother’s new partner or spouse. And the information it turns up must then be given to the father, not the mother, or perhaps both.

    Yes, some fathers would use it as an instrument of control, and it’s too bad. You can imagine a case where a control-freak father used the law in that way and found that the new partner had a past record. He should have the right to know that record and apply to have the man excluded from the child’s life.

    • Stitchedup says:

      Only serious cases of DV should be disclosed, minor breaches of dodgy non mols should not. A man, or a woman for that matter, should have the right to start a new relationship and get on with their lives unhindered by the gamesmanship and subsequent fall out of an acrimonious separation/divorce.

  3. Andrew says:

    The subject of the request – if it comes from a new potential partner – should be told that the request has been made. He, usually he, needs to know that she does not trust him so that he can get out of the relationship if he prefers.

  4. Gareth says:

    I am being victimised by this law by the police, I went to prison in 2006 for a section 18 only accountable as being there and not stopping the subsequent criminal act. I have recently over the past year had my whole world turned upside down through divorce from which my ex made a claires law application, I will say in all honesty I’m not abusive to start, 4 months prior to our break up I was diagnosed with complex ptsd that stemmed from my childhood and my partner felt she didn’t want my mental health in her life. My problem was is that I couldn’t deal with certain things talking like about finances, stress, off loading my own problems because I felt inadequate if I did and told to man up if I did speak, made to feel worthless and financially manipulated if I didn’t earn enough putting pressure on me to earn more which I did, I had 5 jobs in 4 years climbing salaries all the way through but the goal post got further each time. Trying to escape the room when arguing but she would block the door and me pushing past was abusive, me escaping the room after coming home from work to the kitchen because I couldn’t deal with the moaning about finances soon as I walk through the door. When we broke up I sent a few snotty emails because she blocked me on everything, we have two kids together, my heart was broken as I loved her so much and never thought my marriage would end, I grew up without a dad and never wanted that for my kids, I grafted and grafted and paid the bills no matter what giving her and my kids all I could working 6 to 7 days a week but when it came to me ultimately feeling worn and trying to say it, the response would be its my job to provide, thats the role of a man. I always felt alone yet from sending 5 snotty emails in January to get arrested for harassment then dropped and 3 months later a non molestation order set up behind my back for nothing was just another blow, I couldn’t defend myself because family court solicitors are just too expensive. Now I’ve had the police enforce clares law on my new partner without her asking, I have always been fully open so she has heard everything I’ve said yet the police reading snippets of what I went to prison for say different to what was said in court and the police saying I’m a danger. I feel I’m being victimised, the police are giving the wrong information and I just feel like my life is over now from any relationship in the future. It took my heart 6 to 7 months to heel from the breakdown, for my body to stop physically crying and now I have this. Its my worst nightmare and again alone to just be beaten down by the system. Clares law needs a serious review.

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