What is Clare’s Law – From ACPO Recommendation to Campaign
In September 2009 ACPO led by Chief Constable Brian Moore produced a report about Tackling Perpetrators of Violence for the Home Office in which 10 additional powers/laws to better protect women and girls are proposed.
One such law has become known as Clare’s law and would give persons at risk of domestic violence the right to know relevant information in the possession of the state.
Why Clare’s case
The proposed law takes its name from Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-partner in 2009 after a 2 year campaign of harassment and violence when she ended their relationship. Her killer had a history including:
- Repeated harassment of women
- Threats to kill
- Kidnap of an ex-girlfriend at knifepoint
Some Facts and Figures from the ACPO Report
- Wiltshire Police identified 126 serial perpetrators (those who have used or threatened violence against 2 or more unconnected victims who were intimate partners of the perpetrator) from 2006-09.
- 91% of serial perpetrators had 2 victims in that time and 8% 2 victims.
- The perpetrators were not identified as “serial” by the police or agencies and none were prosecuted for serial activities.
- Few other forces were able to measure the prevalence of serial perpetrators this allowed only for an estimate of serial perpetrators in theUKof 25,000.
- The evidence and research in progress suggests the right to know might be possible but that such as approach would need to be piloted in order to ascertain whether victims would be impacted negatively and be less likely to access services as a result
- MAPPA and MARAC could be appropriate vehicles for any disclosure or senior personnel where emergency disclosure is considered appropriate
Clare’s Law Tango – Quick, Quick, Slow
There are important issues; some highlighted in the ACPO report, which mean that implementation of the policy should be slow:
- The protection of victims and potential victims is paramount. Rapid implementation of this policy could increase the risk to victims where there may be inadequate support. Further, knowledge of the impact of such information on victims in terms of the risk of self harm (eg in 3% of incidents of partner abuse in 2008-09, the victim tried to commit suicide) or how they access support and services is not known.
- The data upon which the decision has been reached is inadequate. Although the extrapolation method used to estimate the number of serial offenders is valid it can only suggest an estimate. This leads on to the next point.
- The current systems in place cannot ensure a fair balance of the rights of victims and alleged perpetrators because most forces are currently unable to identify serial perpetrators let alone provide reliable information on risk to the MAPPA/MARAC to enable reasoned decisions on disclosure of information.
- Victimology is a developing area. To be clear, I do not blame victims and survivors at all for their suffering at the hands of abusers. Abusers have to answer for their actions without excuse. Nevertheless, it remains important to understand factors which may contribute to victimisation.
The Campaign Respect and Protect
The parliamentary campaign for Clare’s law entitled “Respect and Protect” is headed by former Home Secretary Hazel Blears MP and Clare’s father is also backed by Faboulous magazine and a host of celebrities who have begun a petition to change the law as part of the campaign www.facebook.com/fabulous
The Other ACPO Proposals
The other 9 ACPO proposals are:
- Statutory Marac
- Serial Perpetrator Register and Tracking
- Having regard to the high attrition rate of interpersonal violence against women and girls cases in the CJS, consideration should be given to a new criminal offence whereby a prosecution may be brought on the basis of a‘Course of Conduct’ against different victims of interpersonal violence without the need for constituent cases to meet the Code for Crown Prosecutors Full Code Test
- Where a witness statement has been provided by a victim of interpersonal violence it should be immediately and automatically available to her
- Domestic Violence Protection Order (already in pilot phase and blog to follow soon)
- Serial Perpetrator of Violence Order
- Conditional Cautioning
- Obligation for health professionals to report female genital mutilation (FGM) in pregnant women to protect female children born to these women from FGM
- Liability to Suicide – persons who through a course of conduct of abuse cause another person to take their life should be criminally liable for their actions
See here for the full report Tackling Perpetrators of Violence Against Women And Girls