18% Increase In Domestic Violence Related Homicides

The BBC has today reported a large increase in homicides linked to domestic abuse, meaning rates are at their highest in 5 years.

In 2018 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides, an increase of 32 from 2017, with the majority of victims being women.

The figures are disappointing, especially as the Government has been attempting to tackle domestic violence in recent years with Theresa May making it a high priority and introducing the Domestic Abuse Bill before her departure in July.

After a report published by the Home Office revealed the economic and social cost of domestic abuse was £66 billion in 2016 and 2017, it is not just the cost of human life that weighs heavy.

Since 2014 around three quarters of domestic homicide victims were women and either in relationships or related to their perpetrator, with most perpetrators being male.

The statistics came hours after Boris Johnson pledged to return the Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament when it reconvenes next month, stating on Twitter:

“Domestic abuse shatters lives & tears families apart. We are fully committed to tackling this horrific crime – which is why the Queen’s Speech will confirm we will be reintroducing domestic abuse legislation in the next session.”

The announcement will be welcome news to charities including Women’s Aid who had written to Mr Johnson asking for a ‘clear pledge’ that the Bill be reintroduced in the Queen’s speech. The Domestic Abuse Bill looks to include the first government definition of domestic abuse, including coercive control and non-physical violence.

Figures released in 2018 showed that the estimated incidents of domestic abuse remained steady, however, there was a 23% increase in recorded domestic abuse-related crimes. The increase has been attributed to the identification and recording of incidents and willingness of victims to speak up. Conviction rates have also been at their highest since 2010, with 76% of prosecutions resulting in a conviction. Charities fighting domestic violence, however, feel that the rise in convictions are not enough and the problem is still not being dealt with effectively. The Centre For Women’s Justice (CWJ) lodged a ‘super-complaint’ in March this year, accusing the police of failing to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Nogah Ofer, from CWJ, said: “Women have to go off and get orders in the civil courts, those orders are breached and the police don’t do anything to arrest the suspects. We hear this all the time. There’s this constant sense of frustration they’re not being taken seriously.”

Following a consolation, in January, the draft Domestic Violence Bill was published and included new civil Domestic Abuse Protection Notice (DAPNs) to provide immediate protection following a domestic abuse incident, and a new civil Domestic Abuse Protection Order (DAPO) to provide flexible, longer-term protection for victims than the current Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) and Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs).

Although the proposed legislation will come too late for the rising number of victims, it is encouraging that Mr Johnson has confirmed that the Bill will be brought back to Parliament and gives hope of further protection to current and future victims.

As a family lawyer, what is your view of these statistics?

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