12 January 2024

Further failure over Clare’s Law identified by Wiltshire Police

12 January 2024

A police force which had to review more than 3,500 Clare’s Law applications has referred itself to the police watchdog over another failure it has identified in how they were handled.

It has emerged a number of women were physically harmed following failures relating to Clare’s Law applications at Wiltshire Police.

The law, which was introduced in England and Wales in 2014, allows police to disclose someone’s history of abusive behaviour to those who may be at risk from them.

In October, the force launched a review after a small number of applications were analysed and found to include failures to disclose information to those at risk from domestic violence.

The new failure is said to have happened late last year while the review only covers cases from April 2015 until August 2023.

The force said on Thursday that the review identified 25 failures in the service, with two of these failures resulting in non-fatal physical harm to two adult women.

A 26th failure relating to a common assault on an adult woman in late 2023 was identified on Friday, police confirmed.

Of the other failures, it is believed 11 are administrative ones and 12 are service failures, for example where information should have been disclosed or where inadequate research was undertaken.

One member of police staff is suspended from the force and is the subject of an independent investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog.

Chief Constable Catherine Roper said: “Yesterday, I updated our communities on the progress of our urgent review of 3,582 Clare’s Law applications.

“After this announcement was made, I was informed of an additional incident where a potential failure in our service towards the end of 2023 may have contributed to another person being harmed.

“This service failure relates to a Clare’s Law application made after the timeframe of the review (April 2015-August 2023).

“However, I can confirm that we have made an immediate referral into our Professional Standards Department, as per our policy, and we have also referred this matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“Whilst it is crucial that we prioritise the support to the victim and preserve the integrity of both the ongoing criminal investigation and the conduct referrals we have now made, I can confirm that this was an incident of common assault against an adult female.

“From the moment our failures within the Clare’s Law scheme came to light, I vowed I would be wholly transparent and honest with our communities. That is why I wanted to update you on this latest failure as soon as I could.

“As ever, I will keep you fully informed of any additional issues connected to this matter.”

It means the force has now referred itself to the police watchdog five times over the failings.

Clare’s Law was created by Michael Brown following the death of his daughter Clare Wood, 36, from Yorkshire.

Ms Wood was murdered by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton in 2009. An inquest into her death revealed that Appleton had a history of violent behaviour against women, which Ms Wood was not informed of.

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