The Family Of A Murdered Young Woman Has Called For A Review Of ‘Clare’s Law’
There's no denying that 'Clare's Law' is an incredible scheme, but one family has called for a review of the legislation after a young woman tried to find out if her new boyfriend had a history of violence just 11 days before he murdered her.
Rosie Darbyshire, 27, had been dating Ben Topping for just one month before he brutally murdered her with a crowbar following an argument on 7th February of this year in an attack that left her unrecognisable after sustaining more than 50 injuries.
Keen to dispel concerns her family had raised about her 25-year-old boyfriend, Rosie made an application under Clare's Law in an attempt to find out about his past just 11 days before the tragic event, but she didn't receive the results in time. If she had, she would have learned that he was on bail for actual bodily harm for breaking a man's jaw at a club just nine months before.
Clare's Law, otherwise known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, is designed to protect potential victims from an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy by allowing police to disclose information about a partners' previous history of domestic abuse of violent acts. Under current guidelines, information is provided within 35 days but it's stressed extenuating circumstances may increase the timescale.
However Rosie's sister Alice Hodgson and her family from Preston, Lancashire, are now campaigning for a change in the law so that disclosures about criminal history are passed on more quickly.
"When she started putting pictures of them together on Facebook, people were commenting on them, saying he's a bit weird or he's not good for her," explained Alice. "An ex-girlfriend of his wrote something like 'you'll be next'."
"We kept pushing Rosie to do a [Claire's Law application] so she did it to prove a point - that everything was okay," she added.
"They weren't together long, but in that time he changed her," added her mum Andrea Darbyshire. "They knew each other from college and he made her feel good at a low ebb in her life by saying he always fancied her."
"She never mentioned him being aggressive towards her. In fact, she said he understood her, he let her be herself."
Clare's Law is named after Clare Wood - a 36-year-old mother of one who was raped and murdered by her former partner George Appleton in 2009.
Clare never knew that he had a history of violence against women, and it was her father Michael Brown who spearheaded the original fight to set up Clare's Law in 2014.
Michael is now supporting this new campaign, which calls for disclosures about criminal history to be passed on more quickly and for applicants to get a call back within 48 hours.
"Clare's Law is an incredible thing but it needs tightening up," said Rosie's other sister Eleanor. "It's such a long process but you see people getting stopped and searched at the roadside, and the police have all the information there and then. Why can't Clare's Law be like that?"
"We're not delusional, Rosie might not have left [Topping] if she had the response, she might have decided she was the one who changed him, but she didn't get to make that choice. If this saves a handful of lives, then we need to do it," she added.
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Featured Image Credit: SWNS