I'm really pleased that Clare's Law is now in force and that someone can find out from the police if their partner has a violent past. However, I am sceptical about how many people (women in particular) it will actually help to protect.
What type of woman will take advantage of this law and use it?
Will it be someone who has recently started dating a man and wants to know in advance if he has anything in his past to be worried about? If so, what if she finds out he has been violent, (or accused of - but never prosecuted for violence) towards a former girlfriend, yet up to this point has been charming and attentive and not displayed any sign of violence, jealousy or control so far in this new relationship? It's going to take a very strong and wilful person to end a relationship that seems to be going well so far on the basis of what she's found out historically, and in reality, and from what I know of previous disclosures in other police areas that have run this, it doesn't happen. Some women tend to think that they can change a man, that he has only been abusive in the past because that partner didn't understand him or treat him right, that he will be different this time because she can help him with his problems etc. They will not end a relationship before the abuse starts, and even when it does, they will still give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was stressed/tired/troubled/money worries.. and before they know it they are then tangled up and in abusive relationship themselves.
Will it be a woman who is in a relationship with a man who has already hit her? If so, why base a decision to stay or leave someone only on the basis of whether they have a history of this to other people? If you have already been assaulted, or fear you may be assaulted and are subjected to control and abusive behaviour then you should be thinking about getting out of the relationship anyway, regardless of whether he's done it to someone else or not. Why should finding out if he has a history of it make a difference to your decisions?
Having worked in the DV area for a while I am aware of many women who have been warned about their partner's behaviour and past by society around them, yet this has made no difference whatsoever; they have still got involved with them and then been assaulted, some of them very seriously. Why are they going to take any notice of the police telling them? The police cannot disclose the exact history or level of violence, only that someone has been violent towards an ex partner or not.
I doubt very much I'd ever make use of Clare's Law. I would trust my own judgements and would know quite quickly if a man was showing signs of behaviour that I would find unacceptable. It would make no difference if he had a clean sheet in the past or not.
What are your views on this? I'm particularly interested in hearing from men too? Would you use this law to find out if there's a history of violence on a girlfriend?