A review examining domestic homicide cases between 2012 and 2019 has revealed that the vast majority of victims had previously had contact with the police, health services, and other public agencies prior to their death.
The 4 reports published today reveal that, in one review, 52% of victims had been in prior contact with the police across 46 homicide cases. In a different review of 58 cases, 78% of the victims and 69% of the perpetrators had sought assistance from physical health services, including GPs or hospitals. The review also uncovered that 57% of perpetrators had criminal records for previous abuse offences before they went on to murder their victims.
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, responded to the findings, stating: ‘Any life lost to domestic homicide is a tragic failure by systems that should be there to protect victims. That both victim and perpetrator were known to services in the vast majority of these homicides shows there is a life-saving opportunity to intervene earlier.’
Despite reviews into Domestic Homicide cases being conducted since 2011, there has been a noticeable absence of mechanisms ensuring that the vital recommendations from these reviews are enacted both at regional and national levels. While changes may be implemented at a local level, the critical adjustments needed at the national level seem to be going unheeded.
Further comments from Jacobs reported in the Guardian explain that the findings highlight a lack of ‘political will’ at national level to take on board the findings from the previous domestic homicide reviews which were, more often than not, exceptionally avoidable deaths. She called for ‘systemic change’ explaining that the current systems in place ‘were never built with an understanding of domestic abuse.’
In identifying the way forward, Jacobs discussed the launch of a ‘domestic homicide oversight mechanism’ which can ‘hold public bodies and national government to account so that they take the important steps to preventing future deaths.’ It was also suggested the police should use similar tactics to investigate domestic abuse as they would employ in tackling organised crime, which would extend to the possibility of subjecting suspected perpetrators to surveillance.