Learning Lessons To Keep Domestic Violence Victims Safe

New guidance to ensure any lessons following a domestic violence homicide are learnt, and action to protect others at risk is taken, was published today for consultation by Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland.

This is the latest step in the government’s ongoing drive to reduce domestic violence and bring more offenders to justice. Reviews following domestic violence homicides will be established under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

The purpose of the reviews is for the police, probation boards, local authorities and health bodies to ascertain whether policies and procedures were followed, as it is often the case that someone who dies at the hands of a partner, ex-partner or family member is already known to the relevant authorities.

Rt. Hon. Baroness Scotland QC said:

“The number of homicides resulting from domestic violence has fallen by 14 per cent over the past two years, but still over 100 women and 35 men are killed each year at the hands of a current or ex-partner, or family member.

“Each one is one too many and it is important that when this sort of tragedy does occur we look at what can be done to put systems right. Domestic Violence Homicide Reviews are not about laying blame, but about learning lessons on how to protect future victims better.

“We all need to take responsibility to bring about change and keep our family, friends and communities safe.”

Under the new system, local agencies will have to consider whether a review should take place after every domestic violence homicide. The Secretary of State will also have the power to direct a person or body to carry one out.

The guidance out for consultation is based on the existing serious case reviews that already take place when a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is known or suspected.

The Home Office has also published today an annual progress report which outlines the developments that have been made against our seven key policy objectives for addressing domestic violence, as outlined in the Government’s National Domestic Violence Report.

In the past year, achievements include:

  • Further expansion of the specialist domestic violence court programme
  •  £2 million funding for Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advisors, professionally trained specialists working alongside a victim from the point of crisis, such as their initial call to the police or visit to A&E
  • The roll out of Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) where local agencies work together to identify high risk victims and plans to keep them safe
  • the roll-out of accredited domestic violence perpetrator programmes to every probation area in England and Wales.

The report sets out the priorities for the coming year and the emerging model of a co-ordinated community response for local partnerships, which provides a framework for local action so that victims are better protected.