GMP received 1,600 applications for Clare’s Law last year… but many domestic abuse victims still don’t know it exists


Police in Greater Manchester received thousands of applications to use Clare’s Law last year, but many domestic abuse victims are still unaware the service exists.

In 2021, the force dealt with 1,629 requests under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS), to check whether an individual may pose a risk to them or their loved ones.

The service was launched following the death of Salford mum, Clare Wood, who was 36 when she was strangled and set on fire 13 years ago by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton.

Clare Wood

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Appleton made a series of chilling threats towards her when she ended their relationship after 10 months, culminating in her murder on February 2, 2009.

It later emerged that Appleton, who killed himself after he murdered the mum-of-one, had a history of violence against women.

In 2014, as a result of a campaign spearheaded by her father, Michael Brown, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme was rolled out across the country after a trial in Manchester.

Anyone can submit an application via the police.

If checks show that an individual has a record of offenses relating to abuse, or there is information to indicate the applicant is at risk, the police will consider sharing this information.

The service has given thousands of women, and men, the power to make an informed decision about whether to continue relationships that could potentially become dangerous.

Holly Jepson was abused for two years by her former boyfriend

But there are still many current and future domestic abuse victims, who don’t know the service exists.

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Holly Jepson, 23, was stuck in a tower block in Stockport for two years, fearing her drug-addict boyfriend would kill her.

Her partner, Tom Fosbrook, would beat her, controlled her finances, what she wore, and cut off contact between her and her family.

She was only able to escape the hell whilst pregnant with her second child, thanks to the help of midwives who uncovered the horror of Fosbrook’s toxic behaviour.

Holly said if she had known about Clare’s Law, and the ability to find out more about her ex-boyfriend’s past, she would not have entered into a relationship with him.

“They say knowledge is power but I didn’t know anything about this past so I was left assuming that he might change,” she said.

Another young woman, who was forced into a controlling and abusive relationship by a former weightlifting champion, says she wished she’d known about Clare’s Law when they met.

Clare Wood

The scheme, commonly known as ‘Clare’s Law’ is intended to provide information that could protect someone from being the victim of an attack.

It allows information to be released to a member of the public on a “right to ask” basis, or by an agency to protect a victim as a “right to know.”

The initiative is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood, pictured, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, in 2009.

Unbeknown to her, he had a history of violence to women.

A court heard that an ex-partner had told the woman that her boyfriend had previously been convicted of breaching a restraining order which she had taken out against him.

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“I didn’t even know until much later on about Clare’s Law,” she said, speaking to the MEN previously.

“I think if I did and I had inquired a bit more after he told me his side of his past, I’d probably be more likely to question the whole story and whether I should have carried on speaking to him.”

Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, of GMPs Public Protection Department, said: “Clare’s Law is a fantastic scheme that has helped so many people since its introduction in 2014.

“Anyone can make an application to the scheme, whether you are a victim yourself of domestic abuse, or have concerns about a new partner, or you are a worried parent, neighbor or friend who has concerns that someone may be a victim or at risk of abuse, the scheme is open to all.

“What I would say is that if anyone is a victim of domestic abuse, then the police can help, so please don’t suffer in silence.

“There are any many brilliant support services and charities available locally and nationally that can help you to leave an abusive relationship, offering support with such things as housing, finances and counseling services.

“Domestic abuse and gender based violence is a top priority for GMP and we are committed to supporting victims and making sure that anyone who commits abuse faces justice.”

To make an application to Clare’s Law, visit: Request information under Clare’s Law: Make a Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) application | Greater Manchester Police (gmp.police.uk)

Greater Manchester Victims’ Services provide emotional and practical support to anyone affected by crime and are a confidential service. The service can be contacted by visiting the website on www.gmvictims.org.uk or by calling 0161 200 1950.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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