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People in Lichfield and Burntwood will be able to find out if their partner has a history of domestic abuse when a new scheme is rolled out.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme – known as Clare’s Law – will come into effect across Staffordshire on Saturday (March 8).
Requests for background information on individuals will be assessed by a panel made up of workers from agencies including police and probation services before information is released.
Staffordshire Police’s Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: “Domestic abuse shatters lives. It can not only affect the victim but any children living with them and the wider family.
“Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off and tends to escalate in frequency and severity over time. Victims often blame themselves and can make excuses about the offender’s behaviour. This new scheme allows people the choice to get out of a potential abusive situation.”
The scheme is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her Salford home in February 2009. She was unaware of his domestic abuse history with other women. Following her death her family campaigned for a change in the law to support victims.
“Staffordshire Police takes every reported incident of domestic abuse extremely seriously,” Ch Cons Cunningham added. “We are determined to ensure that victims, and those affected by abuse, are supported and safeguarded and that offenders face the consequences of their actions.
“This initiative can help people who are concerned about this type of crime to feel reassured that they don’t have to suffer and help is available.
“Nationally up to one in four women and one in six men are affected by one of the many forms of domestic abuse during their lifetime. It is often a hidden crime because victims are so fearful of reporting what is happening to them and may not confide to family or friends.
“Domestic abuse is never ok. Men and women can be victims but it is an offence that affects more than those direct victims. It affects children, wider families and friends. Offenders should challenge their own behaviour, understand it and seek help and support to stop a cycle of abuse that is totally unacceptable. There is no excuse that is acceptable.
“We know that domestic abuse is significantly under-reported and so we want to encourage victims to have the confidence to come forward and report it so we can help.”