Clare’s Law, officially known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, was finally passed five years after Clare Wood’s murder. This law has been passed as a direct result of Clare’s families’ hard work & determination to fight for justice to protect other victims of domestic violence in the UK.
Clare Wood was 36 when she was murdered by her boyfriend. She was strangled in her bed and her body was then burnt. Clare met her boyfriend through the internet and had no knowledge of his history of violence.
After their relationship started Clare’s boyfriend began to exhibit violent and aggressive behaviour. Clare reported these events to the Police on a number of occasions but unfortunately she had no knowledge of her boyfriend’s previous offences which ultimately could have prevented her death.
Had Clare’s Law been in place at this time she could have contacted the Police to obtain further information about her boyfriends’ previous offences, allowing her to then make an informed decision about whether to stay with her boyfriend.
People concerned about domestic violence in the UK can make enquiries under Clare’s Law and can also make an application to the Court for a Non-Molestation Order. The application for an a Non-Molestation Order no longer incurs a Court fee and can be made to prevent an associated person from undertaking specific acts such as, using or threatening violence, coming within a specific distance of the person who made the application, communicating with that person, and instructing anyone else to threaten that person.
An application for a Non-Molestation Order can be made without notice to the person whom it will be made against, as of course, notice of this application may make the situation worse and often dangerous. Once a Non-Molestation Order is in place, it is a criminal offence to breach a Non-Molestation Order and therefore, if broken, the Police are entitled to arrest the person and they will then be dealt with through the criminal justice system as they would with any other crime. In the event that that person is found guilty, they could be fined, or sent to prison, or both.
In the event of violence or the threat of violence, you are also able to make an application to the Court for an Occupation Order. This Order is able to exclude a person from the home, or the vicinity of the home, terminate or restrict the right of one person to live in the home, or regulate how the home is used and who is entitled to use each part of the home.
The precise terms of an Occupation Order depends upon the circumstances of the case but where a person has genuine concerns of violence regarding the person they live with, or are in a relationship with, this may provide essential protection. It is possible for the Court to attach a power of arrest to an Occupation Order which directs the Police to arrest immediately any person who it appears has breached the Occupation Order and bring them before a Judge.
Domestic violence is more common than people realise and is very difficult to monitor. Whilst Clare’s Law and applications to the Court will not prevent domestic violence, it is hoped that it will go some way to helping prevent even one person suffering from domestic violence.
Rachel Furniss is a Paralegal in the Family Law Department at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Milton Keynes.
For a free initial 30 minute consultation about a Non-Molestation Order or an Occupation Order call freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.
Slater and Gordon UK have the largest team of Family Lawyers in the country and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Derby, Cambridge & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.