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'Clare's Law' pilot group to meet

A new group set up to establish a pilot of "Clare's Law" in Scotland will meet for the first time next week, it has been announced.

First Minister Alex Salmond revealed last month that a new law giving people the right to know if their partner has a history of domestic violence will be tested in Scotland.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Stephen House proposed a new group be set up to look at the scheme, which has already been trialled in England and Wales.

That group, which will include representatives from the Scottish Government, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Women's Aid and others, is due to meet on Monday,

It will be chaired by Chief Superintendent Helen Swann, who said: "Tackling domestic abuse is a key priority for Police Scotland and by scoping out the options for a pilot with our partners, this will allow us to ensure we use every means at our disposal to keep people safe.

"A Scottish domestic abuse disclosure scheme will allow relevant information about those who have committed offences related to domestic abuse to be shared with their potential victims.

"Sharing this information gives people at risk of, or already suffering, domestic abuse the background knowledge to inform decisions regarding their safety.

"Disclosures through the scheme can be triggered by victims themselves, family members or another member of the public concerned about the victim or public authorities such as the police or social work.

"The decision to disclose will lie with a multi-agency forum, taking all parties' rights and needs into account.

"When the decision is taken to share information through the scheme, the person receiving the information will be fully supported."

Clare's Law is named after Clare Wood, 36, who was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton at her home in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Miss Wood, a mother-of-one, had met Appleton on Facebook, unaware of his horrific history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one of his ex-girlfriends.

The victim's father, Michael, originally from Aberdeen, said he was delighted when UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced in March that the law will be rolled out across England and Wales.

The First Minister and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill have previously said they will look at the experience in England.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said today: "We take the issue of domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women very seriously indeed and are committed to tackling this abhorrent behaviour, which blights the lives of individuals and communities.

"We look forward to working with Police Scotland and with other partners such as Scottish Women's Aid to develop this pilot and to ensure that it is right for Scotland and that we do everything in our power to protect and keep women safe."

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