News | Press Release | Statements

7 March 2024

Ten years on from Clare’s Law, women’s safety is still not a Government priority

Jess Eagelton, Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Research at Refuge said:

“Refuge sends our support and praise to Maddy Wood today for the vital work she has done in honour of her mum, Clare. In the 10 years since the introduction of Clare’s Law, the prevalence of domestic abuse and domestic homicide has remained high. While initiatives like Clare’s Law, which aim to protect women from abusers, are welcome, without adequate funding for and commitment to properly implement these schemes, they amount to little more than lip service to women’s safety.

Clare’s Law is intended to reduce intimate partner violence by disclosing a perpetrator’s history of abuse, yet there is a danger that this scheme can create a false sense of security, when vital information is withheld or overlooked. Clare’s Law is not a silver bullet for addressing domestic abuse. The majority of perpetrators do not have a criminal record, but still pose a significant risk of harm to women.

The application of Clare’s Law remains patchy and disjointed due to wide-ranging inconsistency in police implementation, including long waiting times and police declining applications, making it a postcode lottery whether the police force will carry through a Clare’s Law request, or not. The devastating consequences of police’s failure to consistently implement Clare’s Law cannot be understated – as we saw recently in Wiltshire where a ‘catastrophic service failure’ led to three people being harmed due to a litany of failures on Clare’s Law.

As the recent Angiolini Inquiry has highlighted, an endemic culture of misogyny pervades the police, and we are concerned that the requests women make under Clare’s Law are not being taken seriously because of this. Far too often we hear from survivors who have their concerns downplayed, trivialised or altogether dismissed. Between October 2021 and March 2022, over 10,000 (56% of) criminal background requests made under Clare’s Law were denied, according to data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Women’s safety ought to be a national priority for the police and for the Government. For women to feel safe, the Government must make essential funding commitments for vital domestic abuse services. It is deeply disappointing to see from the Spring Budget that the Government isn’t prepared to make the financial investment necessary to make this a reality. Ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday, it is devastating that women are yet again being overlooked.”