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Domestic violence: Father of victim and supporters call for change in the law

The father of a girl who was murdered by her violent boyfriend has handed in a petition to Downing Street in a bid to force a change in the law to protect women from domestic abuse.

Mr Michael Brown is from Batley in West Yorkshire. He began his campaign after his daughter, Clare Wood, was killed by her boyfriend in February 2009. The change in the law has been dubbed 'Clare's Law' after his beloved daughter.

Under the proposed changes, women would be able to find out from police if their current boyfriend or partner has a history of violence towards women

Clare met her boyfriend, George Appleton, on social-networking site Facebook. She was completely unaware at the time that he had a long history of violence towards women, which included repeated harassment, threatening behaviour and an incident in which he kidnapped a former girlfriend at knife point.

The relationship between Ms Wood and Mr Appleton ended after he strangled her and then set her on fire before going on the run. The hunt for him ended when he took his own life.

At the inquest into Clare's death, coroner Jennifer Leeming said that women who are in abusive relationships have a right to know about the violent past of the men that they choose to be with. She went on to say that she would report back to the Government recommending that women at risk of harm should be given the necessary information to make an informed judgement about who they decide to become close to.

Ms Wood had complained to Greater Manchester Police on a number of occasions about the continued harassment she received from her partner. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has investigated the matter and ruled that Ms Wood was badly let down by the police.

Greater Manchester Police say they have now made a number of procedural changes designed to help ensure that domestic violence cases are handled better, with the aim of preventing another case like this one.

Speaking about the petition, Clare's father said: "I have been campaigning for the last six months and have been pleasantly surprised at the public reaction to the proposed change in the law."

Related links:

Read more on the story (The Guardian)

Court orders that protect you from domestic violence (FindLaw)

Find solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)