The Scottish Government is considering introducing a local equivalent of what has come to be known as “Clare’s Law” in England and Wales. Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has expressed a willingness to consider the introduction of such a scheme, which is focused on domestic abuse. The idea has the support of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called for immediate action, insisting there is no obstacle in making it part of the Criminal Justice Scotland Bill. An amendment can be made at stage two of the Bill, enhancing protection for Scottish people as soon as possible, Davidson said.
“Clare’s Law” is named after Clare Wood, who was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend. The investigation revealed that the man had three previous convictions for violence against women and had served time twice for such offences. This case led to the introduction of a law that allows people to approach the police for information on whether their partner has a history of violence, including domestic abuse. The police are also given the right to disclose such information if the circumstances are deemed appropriate. The pilot schemes have proved so successful that the law is being officially introduced in England and Wales.
The Scottish Conservatives website has reported Davidson as saying Scotland needs a similar law as soon as possible. The annual number of domestic abuse incidents stands at 60,000, with approximately 20% of Scottish women subjected to such an experience at some point in their life. In addition, one-third of the people convicted have a minimum of one previous conviction for domestic abuse.
A Scottish equivalent of “Clare’s Law” will offer extra protection to vulnerable individuals and the government should provide it without delay, Davidson concluded.