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Guidance proposed for domestic violence reviews

15 June 2006

The Home Office this week published draft proposals for the format that domestic homicide reviews should take.

The consultation sets out the Government's recommendations for the guidance local authorities should follow when conducting a review of a domestic violence homicide.

Under sec 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, it will be the statutory duty for local bodies to consider whether a review should take place after every domestic homicide, to ascertain whether the correct policies and procedures were followed and to “identify the lessons top be learnt from the death”.

The proposals bring the guidance for domestic homicide reviews into line with those already conducted when a child dies or is seriously injured as a result of suspected abuse. Under the new system, the Secretary of State would also be able to direct a person or body to carry out a review where applicable.

Amongst the 11 issues the Home Office suggests should feature in the guidance for consideration during a review are: Which body should undertake the review?; Should the family or media be involved?; and Do all the agencies have access to legal advice?

The consultation points out that the government understands that domestic violence can be viewed differently in a variety of cultures and religions and that “victims in some black and minority ethnic communities may be discouraged from speaking out about violence for fear of bringing dishonour upon the family or community”.

At the publication of the paper, Home Office minister 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.”

The consultation can be found at Crime Reduction. Responses must be received by 13 September 2006.

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