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Clare's Law plan 'a waste of money'

Government plans to give people the right to ask police about a partner's history have been condemned as a waste of money by a leading domestic violence charity.

Refuge warned the cost of setting up "Clare's Law" pilot schemes in Greater Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire could outweigh the benefits.

But Home Secretary Theresa May said the fact that two people were killed by their current or former partner each week in England and Wales showed the need for action.

It comes after a campaign for a change in the law to help protect women from domestic abuse. The campaign was launched by Michael Brown, whose daughter Clare Wood was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, at her home in Salford in February 2009. Appleton then went on the run before hanging himself.

But Refuge said that in a time of austerity "we can't afford the luxury of expensive and untested new schemes".

Sandra Horley, the charity's chief executive, said: "We are at an absolute loss as to why the Government is introducing the new disclosure scheme... The new disclosure scheme simply isn't supported by any of us with the expertise to judge its chances of success."

Most abusers were not known to the police and, where they were, legislation was already in place to give police powers to disclose information about previous convictions or charges in order to prevent further crime, she said.

"How many women at risk of abuse will actually use the scheme and would it make any difference to them if previous convictions were disclosed? The Government's own impact assessment suggests that at best the scheme will only result in an annual reduction of a half per cent in domestic violence."

But Mr Brown, a former prison officer originally from Aberdeen who now lives in West Yorkshire, said the scheme "certainly can't harm" women. His daughter's life would have been saved if the law had been in place when she was alive, he told BBC Breakfast.

Mrs May said: "This pilot scheme is designed to prevent tragic incidents from happening, such as that of Clare Wood, by ensuring that there is a clear framework in place with recognised and consistent processes for disclosing information."


From Belfast Telegraph