UK law could prevent domestic violence in NZ

  • 11/03/2014

The Government says it could adopt a new UK scheme that allows people to find out if their partner has a violent history.

Clare's Law was introduced after British woman Clare Wood was murdered by an ex-boyfriend who had kept his abusive history a secret.

A New Zealand mother whose ex-boyfriend murdered her daughter says if a similar scheme had been here, her child may still be alive.

Ms Wood was strangled and then set on fire in 2009 by an ex-boyfriend who had a history of violence against women that she did not know about.

Now Clare's Law is being rolled out across England and Wales.

"It's somewhat bittersweet but I'm quietly elated common sense has come to the fore," says Ms Wood's father, Michael Brown.

People can ask police to check if their partner has a violent history. If the person has a record of abuse or other offences, the police will consider sharing the information.

Christchurch woman Tina Bayliss lost her daughter, Jade, in 2011. Ms Bayliss' ex-partner, Jeremy McLaughlin, strangled her to death then set their house on fire with her body still in it.

Ms Bayliss did not know McLaughlin had killed a Perth teenager in 1995.

"I would have benefited finding out," she says. "I went the police station four days earlier and unfortunately they couldn't give me an answer. Maybe things might have been different, maybe not. But I certainly would have looked at the situation differently."

Domestic abuse charity Shine says it has been pushing for a scheme similar to Clare's Law for years.

"We can see that maybe a woman has been referred to us this week, and we can see that the person who has assaulted her has had five or six previous partners that he has harmed, and we're not allowed to tell her that," says Shine's Jill Proudfoot.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says she will be monitoring the scheme's progression in Britain.

"We'll see how that goes," says Ms Collins. "If it's significantly better than our law changes or has an improvement on safety of women and children, then I'll be very happy to look at it."

"It's been two and a half years since Jade passed away," says Ms Bayluss. "What's changed? Nothing's changed."

Ms Bayliss says the Government needs to hurry up. It may be too late for her daughter, but the scheme could save another person's life.

3 News

source: newshub archive