‘I didn’t realise it was taking so long to respond, it’s crazy’ - Man who fought for Clare's Law speaks about why he supports the Lancashire Post campaign to improve the law
The Lancashire Post has launched a campaign to revise Clare’s Law - which allows people to find out if their partners have a violent past - in memory of murdered Preston mum Rosie Darbyshire.
Today, we speak to Michael Brown, the man who pushed for Clare’s Law to be introduced, about why he supports our campaign to improve the law.
Michael Brown is no stranger to campaigning for behalf of some of the most vulnerable in society.
His daughter, Clare Wood, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, in 2009. Appleton had a appalling history of domestic violence, but despite having complained to police about him, Clare was tragically never warned of his criminal history before he went on to kill her.
Thousands of applications for information have since been made under Clare’s Law across the country.
However, Michael agrees that the law could be improved to help provide vital information more quickly to those potentially at risk of violence.
He supports the Post’s campaign to lower the 35-day maximum time police forces have to respond to anyone seeking information, after hearing how Preston mum Rosie Darbyshire was murdered by her boyfriend Ben Topping.
Rosie put in the application under Clare’s Law after others raised concerns about Topping’s violent past - but she did not receive any information on him before he killed her 11 days later.
Michael says he agrees with the aspirations to speed up access to the law, which Rosie’s family are calling for.
He said: “Thirty-five days is ridiculous. I didn’t realise it was taking so long (to respond), it’s crazy. My daughter was killed in a morning.
“Maybe it’s to weed out mischievous calls? There’s always going to be one or two, but I worked in the prison service, and I could find out within minutes how long an inmate was in for, what they were in for and when they were due out.
“And we have things like ANPR for cars and officers can find out almost instantly whether a car has an MOT, insurance, whether it’s wanted in connection with a crime, so why can’t we have a similar database for people with abusive backgrounds? Then the bobby on the street could call up the control centre and find out very quickly.
“Everything is computerised these days, they can find things out in seconds.”
Rosie’s family is also calling for more awareness of Clare’s Law, so more people know how to access information and what can be provided under a request.
Michael agrees there is still much more to be done to help protect those at risk of domestic violence. He said: “When I am asked if I’m content with Clare’s law, my answer is no.
“There are still things I would like to see happen, such as PCSOs going into schools to talk to pupils about bullying and how it doesn’t stop at the school gates. Young people need to know where to get help.
“We can’t do away with domestic violence, that’s asking the impossible, but we can raise awareness. Some people won’t want to listen, but at least they have that information.
“In the year my daughter was killed in Greater Manchester there were 16 women killed in circumstances related to domestic violence.
“Anything that can be done to change these figures is worthwhile.
“Maybe by looking into (Rosie’s) situation, it will give someone a kick up the bum and help speed things up.”