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New move to tackle domestic violence

Women concerned about potentially violent partners will be able to instruct the police to check their history under a new scheme to be rolled out next year.

Clare's Law is expected to take effect across England and Wales from next March. It follows relentless campaigning from the family of Clare Wood (36), who was murdered by ex-boyfriend George Appleton in Salford in 2009.

The mother-of-one had met Appleton on Facebook, unaware of his history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the knife-point kidnapping of another ex-girlfriend. He had told Ms Wood that he had been to prison for driving offences, but she was unaware of previous convictions for harassment.

The scheme was trialled for 12 months from September 2012 in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottinghamshire and Gwent. But some domestic violence campaigners said the take-up levels had been lower than expected and that more could be done by improving the initial police response to reports of abuse.

Yesterday, the Government was urged to invest in police training and an awareness campaign to ensure the law was properly implemented. Liberal Democrat Baroness Hamwee cautioned against believing that Clare's Law was the complete answer to domestic violence.

"It's unrealistic to create the expectation that someone should check on a partner's background. Control and abuse may grow very gradually."

Javed Khan, chief executive of charity Victim Support, said: "Finding out who is the most at risk of harm is critical to protecting them."

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