Domestic Homicide Report 2021
‘Domestic Homicides and Suspected Victim Suicides During the Covid-19 Pandemic 2020-2021’ is the first report of the Domestic Homicide Project, established by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing working with National Policing Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP). The project was created in May 2020 through Home Office funding.
The research carried out by the Project is the first police-led work of its kind in England and Wales and aimed to establish the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic homicides and suspected victim suicides with a known history of domestic abuse to learn lessons from every tragic incident and seek to prevent future deaths.
Evidence from the project showed that domestic homicides didn’t appear to increase dramatically during the pandemic, with 163 recorded in the 12 months to 31 March 2021. However, although there has not been a significant change in the numbers during the pandemic, all organisations in the domestic abuse sector agree that more needs to be done to reduce further incidents.
The Project also found 38 suspected victim suicides with a known history of domestic abuse, although this figure couldn’t be compared with previous years as this was the first time that the data had been captured in this way.
The Project found that Covid-19 acted as an ‘escalator and intensifier of existing abuse’ in some instances, with victims less able to seek help due to Covid restrictions. It also concluded that Covid had not ‘caused’ domestic homicide but had been ‘weaponised’ by some abusers as both a new tool of control over victims, and – in some cases – as an excuse or defence for abuse or homicide of the victim.
Findings from the report also support existing research that coercive and controlling behaviour is associated with higher risk of intimate partner homicide, which remains highly gendered.
The report contains 20 conclusions and recommendations for police and other agencies, covering a variety of areas such as: the impact of Covid, defining domestic homicide, implications for risks assessment, partnership working and further research.