A law enforcement agency is reassessing a large number of requests submitted under the Clare’s law, which grants individuals the ability to inquire about a partner’s history of violence, due to the revelation of inaccurate or insufficient information being provided.
The Wiltshire police department will be examining over 3,500 requests made for Clare’s Law from April 2015 to 2023. One employee has been temporarily removed from their position.
The chief constable of Wiltshire police, Catherine Roper, acknowledged on Thursday that there were instances where information was not shared that could have potentially prevented domestic violence. She expressed her apologies and urged those who feel they are in immediate danger to call 999.
The IOPC, which oversees the police, initiated an investigation into how the force dealt with Clare’s law after a woman in Wiltshire was assaulted by television actor Oliver Cox in a hotel room in December 2018.
The woman had reached out to Wiltshire police to conduct a Clare’s Law evaluation on Cox, but was informed that there were no red flags in his background. However, after being assaulted, it was revealed that Cox had a documented record of domestic violence. Despite the incorrect birth date provided by the woman, thorough investigations should have uncovered Cox and his history.
In 2021, the IOPC discovered that a researcher assigned to handle Clare’s law requests did not have immediate access to the national police database. Although the researcher could request a colleague to perform the necessary checks, the IOPC noted that this delayed the researcher’s access to essential information.
A recent inquiry conducted by the IOPC in September examined the handling of Clare’s law cases by Wiltshire police. This investigation was prompted by a referral from the police force, which raised concerns about a staff member.
Roper acknowledged that there were shortcomings and stated, “We are currently conducting a prompt review of all requests for Clare’s Law that have been submitted to us since April 2015, when the employee joined this department.”
Between April 2015 and August 2023, we received slightly more than 3,500 applications. Our team has been assigned to thoroughly review each application submitted since April 2015. If we identify any potential risk to individuals, we will make efforts to reach out to the applicants.
“We are actively striving to comprehend the full scope of these shortcomings…It is crucial that we maintain honesty and transparency with our communities, which is why we are reaching out to clarify the current state of affairs. I would like to sincerely apologize, on behalf of the organization, to anyone who has been affected by our failures.”
The IOPC is looking into police records and paperwork to determine if proper protocols were followed in processing the applications. They are also reviewing the training background of the staff member.
In 2014, England and Wales implemented a law named after Clare Wood, a 36-year-old woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton in 2009 in Greater Manchester. Wood was unaware of Appleton’s previous instances of violence.
According to Wiltshire police, individuals who have submitted a request for Clare’s law to them from April 2015 to August 2023 and have concerns can contact [email protected] via email. Further details can be obtained from Wiltshire police.