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Criminal law: Women may learn partner's history of violence under new 'Clare's Law'

A proposal for a new 'Clare's Law' is being launched today (18 July) that could alert women to the violent pasts of new partners, using the recently launched national police database.

The law, named after Clare Wood who was murdered by a man she met through online dating, is being launched by Miss Wood's father Michael and has the backing of the Government's Victims Commissioner, Louise Casey and former Labour cabinet minister Hazel Blears.

As women, and men, are increasingly meeting potential partners through online dating, they have no knowledge of their previous relationships or their pasts.

Mr Blears said: "Women in Clare's situation often are unaware of their partner's previous relationships and this can mean they start a relationship with someone with no idea if they have a violent past. Clare's tragic death shows how vulnerable women aren't always protected under the current law and until women are given the right to know if their partner has a history of serial domestic abuse they can't be sure of the risk that they face.

"By changing the law we can empower women so that they can take informed action about their relationship and give them the chance to protect themselves and prevent domestic abuse from happening before it begins."

Home secretary Theresa May is considering the introduction of the new law and is said to have written an "encouraging" letter about it.

A statement from the Home Office read: "Clare's death was a tragic incident and it's important that lessons are learned ... We're looking at how the roll-out of the police national database can further help forces identify and monitor repeat perpetrators, providing further protection to victims."

The method of providing information to concerned people has yet to be decided. It could be that women, and also men, who are worried about their new partner's behaviour, could contact the police for information.

A more controversial method could be that the police alert people of new partners with a history of violence, without waiting to be approached.

Critics of the proposed law worry that we will "end up with a system that could allow people carte blanche to turn up at the police station and go on some sort of fishing expedition to find out the background of a person they may or may not want to go out with."

Related links:

Read more on the story (Guardian)
Read about women's safety (FindLaw)
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