ABOUT 400 people in Gwent have requested information under a potentially life-saving scheme to prevent domestic violence.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, also known as Clare’s Law, was introduced two years ago to protect people in relationships with known abusers from being attacked.

The scheme was piloted by Gwent Police and three other forces in July 2012 and was implemented nationally in March this year.

Clare’s Law allows men and women to ask police whether their partner has been violent in the past, and if they have been, the police can consider disclosing the information.

They will only reveal details when it is “lawful, necessary and proportionate”.

The scheme is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered in February 2009 by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford.

There are two parts to Clare’s Law – the right to ask and the right to know.

Under the right to ask scheme people are able to apply to police forces for information on their partner’s domestic violence history.

In Gwent, between the start of the pilot and September 2014, almost 400 ‘right to ask’ applications have been made by members of the public, although not all led to disclosure.

More than 100 ‘right to know’ disclosures have been made – which is where police, health, social services and third-sector agencies have decided that it’s appropriate information is disclosed to someone about their partner’s past.

The applications can also be made on behalf of a person who is felt to be at risk by friends or family members, or by an agency such as the council.

Michael Brown campaigned for the introduction of Clare’s Law after his daughter, Clare, 36, was strangled and set on fire at her home in 2009 by Appleton, who she met through Facebook.

Appleton had a record of violence against women and was found dead in a derelict pub six days after the attack.

Women’s Aid, the national domestic violence charity, has said while it welcomes the roll-out of the scheme, it recommends the police take further action to protect women who ask for a disclosure.

The charity says that women who make an application under Clare’s Law are clearly already worried about their partners and should be fully supported to be able to keep themselves safe.

It is urging police forces to put extra support in place for women seeking disclosures.

The charity also says that any women seeking a disclosure should also be provided with details of the National Domestic Violence Helpline and any local specialist domestic violence services.

Lorraine Bottomley, Assistant Chief Constable for Gwent, said: “Domestic abuse and violence is a problem for the whole of society.

“While the police play a lead role in dealing with abusers, other agencies, family and friends have a part to play in helping to protect those who may be victims and in helping them escape violent relationships.”

Gwent detectives are currently helping to brief and train officers from other forces at two special sessions being held at West Mercia police this week.

As part of the Gwent Independent Film Trust, the force and 11 other UK forces have helped to fund a film, The Devil’s Vice, which uses an innovative story line to show how abusers can operate in every part of society.

It’s the story of a young, upwardly mobile couple from Monmouthshire who are in a relationship where extreme control and abuse happens.

Despite warnings, the victim simply can’t believe it is happening and only reports it to the police after repeated instances.

“We know that on average, victims will suffer [abuse] 35 times before they contact us,” added Assistant Chief Constable Bottomley.

“We want them, or those close to them, to understand the need to break out of abusive relationships much earlier.”

A Gwent Police spokesman said: “We welcomed the national roll out as the pilot worked well in Gwent.

“Feedback from those who made Clare’s Law applications was positive, but we are conscious that Clare’s Law is not the be all and end all – it’s another tool for officers to use to minimise risk and help keep people safe.”

Ian Johnston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, added: “Any initiative or law that can help save the life of a victim or prevent them from serious harm is welcome.

“Whether it’s male or female victims of domestic abuse, when used properly, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme can provide people with the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it’s too late.

“It can play a vital role in ensuring that more people can make an informed decision about their relationship.”


* In more than 90 per cent of domestic abuse incidents, a child is present or in an adjacent room.

* 30 per cent of domestic abuse starts, or gets worse, during pregnancy.

* According to the 2009-10 British Crime Survey, the majority (73 per cent) of domestic abuse is carried out by men against women.

* Domestic abuse accounts for almost 25 per cent of all recorded violent crime.

* One in four women will be affected by domestic abuse in their lifetimes.

* Two women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner in England and Wales.

* 54 per cent of rapes in the UK are committed by a woman’s current or former partner.

* Nearly 75 per cent of children on the Child Protection Register live in households where domestic abuse occurs.

If you or a friend need help, contact the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, which is run in partnership between Women’s Aid or Refuge.

Alternatively, call Gwent Police on 101 and in an emergency always call 999.