The government is considering changes to the legislation surrounding domestic homicide reviews (DHR) to ensure they better reflect the range of deaths that can result from domestic abuse.
The Home Office said a DHR is a multi-agency review which seeks to identify and implement lessons learned from deaths which have, or appear to have, resulted from violence, abuse, or neglect. Their aim is to better protect victims in future and prevent further tragedies.
It has been indicated that the current DHR legislation could be brought in line with the legal definition of the domestic abuse enacted in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 – something under review as part of an eight-week public consultation.
This would mean that a DHR can be commissioned whenever there is a death that has, or appears to have, resulted from domestic abuse. This includes controlling or coercive behaviour, emotional and economic abuse, in addition to physical abuse, and will help to ensure that lessons are learned from fatal domestic abuse cases.
The consultation will also consider renaming DHRs as “domestic abuse fatality reviews” to reflect cases where the death was not a result of homicide, such as in the case of suicide.
“Domestic abuse is a devastating crime which can have tragic outcomes, including murder and suicide,” said Safeguarding Minister Sarah Dines:
“The government is committed to protecting people from this horrific abuse in all its forms and we are striving to make changes that will bring justice to victims and some comfort to their loved ones.”
Through the consultation, the public, key stakeholders, researchers, and bereaved families will share their views.
The changes are being considered in response to concerns from charities and bereaved families that the current system does not reflect the full range of domestic abuse related deaths.
CEO of Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse Frank Mullane MBE said:
“Renaming these reviews and incorporating the statutory definition of domestic abuse, reflects the findings of the extensive forensic work achieved over 12 years.
We do not know how many deaths are fully, or in part attributable to domestic abuse, but these reviews have revealed many of them, for example some suicides and deaths from neglect.
Commissioning these reviews sends the signal that the state takes very seriously any deaths caused by domestic abuse.”