Lovers Given Legal Right To Check Partner's Past Under New Domestic Violence Law

Under a new law, people will be able to carry out background checks to see if their partners pose a threat to them.

Clare's Law will allow everyone to look into the history of their partners or those of family and friends.

Police have had the power to disclose information on suspects of domestic abuse since 2014, but this new piece of legislation will enhance them.

The change comes as part of the new Domestic Abuse Bill, which was published yesterday.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she hopes this will go some way to 'stamping out' domestic violence.

She said: "We know from the harrowing experiences of victims and their families there is more to do to stamp out this life-shattering crime.

"This Bill will bring about the changes we need to achieve this. It represents a step-change."

Clare's Law first came into being after the brutal murder of mum-of-one Clare Wood in 2009.

The 36-year-old was strangled to death and set on fire by her partner, George Appleton, who she had met on Facebook.

Clare Wood was 36-years-old when she was murdered by her partner, in 2009. Credit: PA
Clare Wood was 36-years-old when she was murdered by her partner, in 2009. Credit: PA

It was later revealed that Appleton, who killed himself after he murdered Ms Wood, had a history of violence against women.

After a campaign led by her dad, Michael Brown, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme was trialled in Manchester and rolled out across the country, but this week's announcement enshrines it in law.

According to government figures, incidents of domestic abuse cost the British economy £66 billion in 2016/17.

The draft Domestic Abuse Bill will now introduce the first ever government definition of domestic abuse so that it includes economic abuse, as well as controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse.

There will be an additional £500,000 funding specifically for male victims, with the system being overseen by the new role of Domestic Abuse Commissioner.

The new bill will provide the first government definition of domestic abuse. Credit: PA
The new bill will provide the first government definition of domestic abuse. Credit: PA

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "We will give victims the full support they need and bring to justice to those who are causing misery."

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, said: "I have heard absolutely heartbreaking accounts of victims whose lives have been ripped apart because of physical, emotional or economic abuse they have suffered by someone close to them.

"The draft Domestic Abuse Bill recognises the complex nature of these horrific crimes and puts the needs of victims and their families at the forefront.

"This Government is absolutely committed to shining a light on domestic abuse to ensure this hidden crime does not remain in the shadows."

You can speak to a member of the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge, by calling 0808 2000 247.

The helpline is available to use at any time, day or night, and the adviser will offer confidential, non-judgemental information and support. The helpline can also help you access refuge accommodation or other specialist domestic violence services, if you need them.

In an emergency, always call 999.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Dominic Smithers

After graduating from Leeds University with a degree in French and History, Dom went onto gain an NCTJ journalism qualification. Since then he has worked as a reporter at the Manchester Evening News and the Macclesfield Express, covering breaking news, court, sports, and politics.

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