Welcome for new law which helps keep women safe from abusive partners

Claire Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need
Claire Phillipson of Wearside Women in Need
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WOMEN on Wearside will be safer from abusive partners thanks to the introduction of a new law, campaigners said today.

Clare’s Law – also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – was rolled out this week across the Northumbria Force area.

The law, named after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was strangled, raped then set on fire by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton in 2009, allows police forces to disclose information on request about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts.

Appleton, it was later revealed, had a history of violence against women.

Today, Claire Phillipson, of domestic violence charity Wearside Women in Need, said women across Sunderland will now be able to lead safer lives.

Ms Phillipson, a director of the charity, told the Echo: “This is a long overdue measure which should enable women and anyone who is at risk to get the information they require to make decisions and keep themselves safe. In the past we have been in situations where multi-agencies knew that a man had serious convictions for violent crime, but we were told that we weren’t allowed to tell these women about them.

“We were told it would be a breach of his human rights.

“Before, we have had to use Google or looking up crime reports in the Echo to find out details about these men.”

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) have also been rolled out, which will allow police and magistrates’ courts to provide protection to victims in the immediate aftermath of an attack. DVPOs can be used to provide immediate protection to a victim where there is not enough evidence to charge an alleged perpetrator and provide protection to victims via bail conditions.

The orders can last for up to 28 days, during which time the perpetrator can be prevented from contacting the victim.

Ms Phillipson added that the introduction of the law will also help to prevent future incidents of violence against women.

“The difference now is that the police will be able to share information about these people,” she said.

“The information won’t be put out in public but should the partner have requested the details, they will get answers, which is what we have wanted for a long time.”

Head of safeguarding at Durham Police, detective superintendent Paul Goundry, said: “Not only can the public inquire to get information, my officers can be proactive in telling new partners of domestic violence perpetrators that they are at risk.

“This is a fantastic tool for the police to use to protect potential victims and I intend to ensure that everyone in County Durham is aware of the new legislation and make it easy to access.”