Lessons learned from domestic homicide reviews must be shared more effectively to strengthen responses, research shows
Research led by Manchester Met – in collaboration with UCLan - is the first large scale study to analyse Domestic Homicide Reviews since their introduction a decade ago
Recommendations from Domestic Homicide Reviews – set up to learn from domestic homicides and to strengthen responses to domestic abuse – should be monitored better to boost the response to domestic abuse and prevent escalation to homicide, new research has found.
The Homicide Abuse Learning Together (HALT) study analysed the findings and processes of 302 Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) as part of a research project - funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) and led by Professor Khatidja Chantler at Manchester Metropolitan University with researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) - the first large-scale national study of its kind since they were legally mandated in England and Wales over a decade ago.
DHRs were established in 2011 to understand how domestic homicides occur and the role of service responses to identify any missed opportunities for intervention and to make the victim visible.
"It is vital that their [domestic homicide reports] recommendations are used to change and improve practice - completing the report should not be seen as an end in itself."— Professor of Social Work at UCLan Nicky Stanley
Researchers have now created the first repository of domestic homicide reviews in England, and a series of briefings and articles aimed to help policymakers and service providers.
Films have also been created based on the experiences of current victim-survivors of domestic abuse and family members who have been bereaved by domestic homicide, as well as an anthology of poems with the Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The new study recommends:
- More investment in specialist frontline domestic abuse services, as well as statutory services such as mental health, substance use, adult social care and criminal justice agencies
- Embedded training on different forms of abuse and homicide for professionals working in relevant services,
- Improved risk assessments particularly for older and black and minoritised victims,
- A greater emphasis on understanding diversity and inclusion
- Stronger multi-agency working
The HALT project, led by Professor Chantler, sought to understand DHR processes by analysing over 300 DHRs identifying possible risk factors before any homicides and recommendations to prevent them in future.
"The HALT study has generated new findings based on the type of domestic homicide and the age, gender and ethnicity of victims and perpetrators. We hope that this information can be used to shape future service responses to domestic abuse."— Professor Chantler, Professor of Gender, Equalities and Communities at Manchester Metropolitan University
Professor of Social Work at UCLan Nicky Stanley noted: “Domestic homicide reports provide important opportunities for learning from these tragic events. It is vital that their recommendations are used to change and improve practice - completing the report should not be seen as an end in itself.”
Researchers’ analyses shows that domestic homicide is predominantly carried out by men against women (80%).
In nearly three-quarters (74%) of cases there had been domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in the victim-perpetrator relationship before the murder.
Researchers have identified common risk and vulnerabilities including previous trauma of victims and problematic substance use of perpetrators.
There is also new information on the nature of adult family homicide, which involves family members over 16 years old who are not in an intimate relationship, and homicide-suicide.
The study also analysed cases involving female perpetrators and those involving black and minoritised victims or perpetrators.
Professor Chantler, Professor of Gender, Equalities and Communities at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “The HALT study has generated new findings based on the type of domestic homicide and the age, gender and ethnicity of victims and perpetrators. We hope that this information can be used to shape future service responses to domestic abuse.
“Our research also highlights the need for an accessible, national repository of DHRs, and the regular analysis of their findings and recommendations to maximise learning from them. Through HALT, we have now created the first repository of the DHRs in England, which were analysed as part of the study.”
The findings demonstrate the high prevalence of previous trauma and abuse for victims (83%), while highlighting the prior violent or abusive behaviour of perpetrators (84%).
They also highlight other risks identified throughout DHRs, including alcohol or drug misuse, economic and housing difficulties and diagnosed mental health conditions.
For the full study, please visit the HALT website.