The Office for National Statistics estimates that around 1.2 million women suffer from domestic violence each year, and 330,000 of these women are also sexually assaulted. Domestic violence now accounts for 10% of all 999 calls and 16-25% of all recorded violent crime. Domestic violence is not always physical, with many women being controlled emotionally, psychologically and even financially by their partner.
Despite the fact that women, and also men, have been subjected to horrific levels of violence at the hands of their partner, in some cases for years on end, it is only in the last 10 years that domestic violence has been taken seriously as a criminal issue by the CPS. Back in 2001, for example, the CPS did not even monitor domestic violence cases. Now though, more cases than ever before are being prosecuted.
A new initiative, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, otherwise known as ‘Clare’s Law’, was rolled out across England and Wales on 08 March 2013, aptly marking International Women’s Day. This scheme allows police to disclose the details of an abusive partner’s past, with particular regard being paid to any history of domestic violence and/or other violent behaviour, cautions and convictions. This follows a successful 14 month pilot scheme across Greater Manchester, Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Wiltshire, with the Home Office having estimated that the scheme has already provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information that they would not have otherwise been in receipt of.
The scheme was named after Clare Wood, who was brutally murdered in 2009 by her ex-partner, George Appleton, who strangled her and set her on fire at her home in Greater Manchester. Appleton had a long record of violence against women, which Wood was never made aware of. Since her death, Wood’s father, Michael Brown, campaigned tirelessly for the introduction of Clare’s Law, in order that women had the right to know about their partner’s criminal background.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “I am determined to see a society where violence against women and girls is not tolerated, where people speak out, and where no woman or girl has to suffer domestic abuse”.
Hanne & Co’s family department are known for their expertise in domestic violence work, helping a high number of clients through some of the most difficult times in their lives. We represent clients at court by applying for Non-Molestation Orders, Occupation Orders and other injunctive relief. Under new legislation, breaching a Non-Molestation Order is now a criminal offence. If you require any assistance, please do contact us on 020 7228 0017.
Jane Hammond, Family Paralegal, Hanne & Co