Wiltshire Police is one of four forces which will pilot the so-called Clare’s Law - allowing women to find out if their partners have a history of domestic abuse - the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced today.

The initiative is known as Clare’s Law after the tragic case of Clare Wood who was strangled and set on fire by her ex-boyfriend in Salford, Greater Manchester, three years ago.

Gwent, Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire are the other forces chosen by the Home Office to test the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS).

The 12-month trial, which will start in the summer, will test the methods used by police to help victims, or potential victims, of domestic violence by disclosing information about previous violent offending by their partner. It will examine the disclosure of such information when triggered by a request from a member of the public and will also look at when police can make proactive decisions to release information.

Both processes can be implemented within existing legal powers. The pilot will help to ensure that recognised and consistent processes can be put in place.

Home Secterary Theresa May said: “Domestic violence is a dreadful form of abuse. The fact that two people are killed by their current or former partner each week in England and Wales shows just how urgent is the need for action.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that the police and other agencies have the tools necessary to tackle domestic violence to bring offenders to justice and ensure victims have the support they need to rebuild their lives.

“This pilot scheme is designed to prevent tragic incidents from happening, such as that of Clare Wood, by ensuring that there is a clear framework in place with recognised and consistent processes for disclosing information.”

The domestic abuse lead at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), Carmel Napier, said: “ACPO is fully supportive of these pilots as a positive step in protecting women in domestic situations from harm.

“People should enjoy seamless safety and at all times be protected. A right to know and a right to ask will empower women to make informed decisions to protect themselves and their children when getting involved with a new partner.

“A national review of serial perpetrators of domestic abuse estimated that around 25,000 offenders of domestic violence had abused two or more different victims with violence or threats of violence in a three-year period. Of those, 2,500 had abused three or more victims and one force had an offender who had committed violence against eight different victims.

“If we hold this information and determine there is a risk of harm then we have a duty of care to disclose and inform to stop women from being victims in the first place.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Kier Pritchard, Head of Protective Services at Wiltshire Police, said today: “As a force we have a firm commitment to combat domestic abuse, so we are pleased to have been selected to pilot Clare’s Law.

“Since last summer we have improved the safety of more than 100 women in Swindon and Wiltshire thanks to Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs), another Home Office pilot.

“When our officers are called to a domestic abuse incident they know the DVPO legislation means that, when they believe the victim has suffered violence or the threat of violence, they can apply to a superintendent and then to magistrates for the perpetrator to be removed from that address for up to 28 days.

“We know from talking to victims how much they have appreciated this breathing space which has allowed them to seek legal advice and support from partner agencies and to plan a safer future for them and any children they may have.

“The Clare’s Law pilot will allow women in Swindon and Wiltshire who have concerns about a new boyfriend, or an existing partner, to ask us if anything is known.

“We expect that the Police National Database, which went live in Wiltshire last summer, could in some such cases prove to be an extremely useful tool when we carry out such disclosure checks.

“We are proud that Wiltshire is the safest county in the country and we hope the Clare’s Law pilot will further improve the safety and wellbeing of women in Swindon and Wiltshire.”

Clare Wood, 36, a mother of one, had met her partner on Facebook, unaware of his horrific history of violence against women, including repeated harassment, threats and the kidnapping at knifepoint of one ex-girlfriend.

He had three previous convictions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

At the inquest into Ms Wood’s death, the coroner said women in abusive relationships should have the right to know about the violent past of the men they were with so they could make an "informed choice".

Ms Wood’s father, Michael Brown, backed by MP Hazel Blears, handed in a petition at Number 10 demanding a change in the law to help protect women from domestic abuse.

Around that time the then Chief Constable of Wiltshire, Brian Moore, recommended in a report that the Home Secretary consider a change in the law allowing the police to better manage serial perpetrators and safeguard potential future victims by introducing a disclosure scheme. Last October the Home Secretary, Theresa May, launched a public consultation on the disclosure scheme which received more than 250 responses from a wide range of high profile statutory and voluntary organisations.