Domestic abuse pilot project

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THE trial of a new scheme that will allow people to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence has been welcomed in Wigan.

Clare’s Law, named after Clare Wood who was murdered by a former partner three years ago, is being trialled by a handful of police forces across the country including Greater Manchester, which means that people in Wigan could be to be benefit.

Carly Fairhurst

Carly Fairhurst

The aim of Clare’s Law is to allow men and women who are thinking about starting a new relationship to check whether their partner has a history of violence in the hope that they can then avoid abusive, and potentially fatal, relationships.

The Home Office announced this week the year-long trials which will give police the “right to ask” for information in Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire, Wiltshire and Gwent.

And although Trevor Fairhurst, father of Carly (pictured) who died at the hands of her boyfriend in 2006, does not think the law would have helped his 19-year-old daughter, he does think it is a good idea.

Unlike 36-year-old Clare, from Salford, Carly knew about the violent past of her boyfriend, Darren Pilkington, 24, who was convicted of her manslaughter.

Trevor said: “To Carly this scheme would have made absolutely no difference because she was absolutely besotted with Pilkington, but there are many other women out there who it will help and it needs to be rolled out across the country.

“For many women once they have fallen in love with a person leaving isn’t an option, so to be able to have the chance to learn about someone’s past before they fall in love could save their lives.”

He added: “Since Carly’s death Greater Manchester Police’s approach to domestic abuse has improved vastly and now a much more pro-active stance is taken.

“But we are still working hard to raise awareness of domestic abuse and let people know that it’s not normal and they don’t have to suffer in silence.”

Maureen Burgess, of DIAS, which is a service for people suffering from domestic abuse, sees limitations in the scheme but knows that for people in the most abusive relationships it could save lives.

She said: “I think it is unlikely that the thought would occur to many people just starting a new relationship that their partner could have a violent past, but that’s not to say that it isn’t an excellent idea, because it is.

“Many people in abusive relationships are made to believe that what’s happening to them is their fault and that they are the first person their partner has been violent towards when actually they’ve been violent in a string of previous relationships.

“Sadly most women in violent relationships are with someone who’s been violent in the past and it’s very unusual to be with someone who’s been violent for the first time.

“And I see this area as the main benefit of this scheme.

“The first time a partner is violent and says that it’s the first time they’ve been violent to anyone, people can get on the phone and become aware right at the beginning of that person’s past.

“They can then easily get a clear picture and know that their partner is unlikely to ever change and those awful situations don’t have to last many years or even result in death, which they can do in the worst case scenario.”