Sask. victims may be warned of partners' violent past

A father who fought for more disclosure by police to protect victims of domestic violence says “Clare’s Law” has proved its worth in the United Kingdom and may save lives in Saskatchewan if adopted here, too.

Father of U.K. murder victim says Clare's Law is saving lives

Clare Wood, 36, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend who had a violent past. (Manchester Greater Police)

A father who fought for more disclosure by police to protect victims of domestic violence says "Clare's Law" has proved its worth in the United Kingdom.

Michael Brown believes it may also save lives in Canada, as Saskatchewan considers becoming the first province to adopt such a measure.

The province said on Wednesday it is considering emulating the U.K. law allowing police to divulge what would otherwise be private information, as part of other measures to address domestic violence.

Brown's daughter, Clare Wood was murdered in 2009 by her ex-boyfriend in the Great Manchester area.

The 36-year-old met George Appleton online and they dated for about 15 months.

"But unknown to us he'd already done six years in prison for holding a lady at knifepoint for 12 hours," said her father.

Michael Brown (left), the father of murdered Clare Wood, and Wood's brother speak to the media after handing in a petition at 10 Downing Street in London, calling for a law change giving women the right to know if their partner has a history of domestic abuse. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Images/Getty Images)

Brown said he took an instant dislike to Appleton and asked his daughter not to bring him around. Eventually she, too, had had enough.

"My daughter gave him his marching orders and apparently he couldn't take 'no' for an answer," Brown said.

He celebrated Christmas with his daughter in 2008, but early in the new year he hadn't heard from her.

He sent a family member to check on her.

"Apparently I'd sent him into hell because the house had been set on fire and my daughter had been beaten, raped, strangled and set on fire," Brown said.
Clare Wood as a child. (Adam Wilkinson-Brown)

As more details emerged after her death, Brown began to push for change.

"I thought it was a disgrace that the police couldn't tell my daughter she was in trouble," he said. "And it was frustrating for them not to be able to tell my daughter this lad's done it before."

Now, under the law named for his daughter, what would ordinarily be private information about a person's criminal history can be disclosed to someone if police deem it necessary.

"So now if anybody suspects domestic violence, whether it be a partner, a child — whatever — they can approach the police in this country and go through the channels and if it's warranted, it'll be told," Brown said.

Saskatchewan's justice minister says he and police see potential in public disclosure as is possible via Clare's Law. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's justice minister said this province will consider a similar measure to allow police to disclose information.

"So they would be authorized to release that information to the victim so the victim could say, 'Oh gee I don't want to be with that person anymore, or I need to take some other steps for protection,'" said Don Morgan.

He said the government will need to work out who could trigger such disclosure and in what circumstances.

"I think the expectation would be that there would be some sort of significant ongoing relationship rather than sort of use it as a screening process for dating — but I think it's got potential to be a useful tool," he said.

Morgan said the government wants to talk more with the Provincial Association of Transition Houses of Saskatchewan about the measure, but he said police see potential.

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition