Why do we carry out Domestic Homicide Reviews?

Domestic Homicide Reviews are carried out so that agencies such as the police, social services and the health service can examine how they handled a murder case and if there are any ways they might work better together in the future.

Deaths as a result of domestic violence are thankfully rare, but by their very circumstances the perpetrator will be linked to the victim as a partner, an ex-partner or as a family member.

It is also likely that the act that led to the death will not have been the first incidence of violence.

Since 2011, where there has been a case of a violent death in domestic circumstances, there has been a legal requirement upon community safety partnerships (in this borough the Safer Croydon Partnership) to instigate a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR).

This examines the conduct of professional agencies involved with the case in order to identify what needs to be changed, so that, if similar circumstances arose, the risk of a death happening again is dramatically reduced.

The Home Office guidance explaining when and how a DHR should be carried out is attached at the bottom of this page. Guidance for family members, friends and work colleagues is also attached.

Information in DHRs is anonymised to protect the family and friends of the victim.

What happens if there is a domestic homicide in Croydon?

The police immediately inform the chair of the Safer Croydon Partnership (SCP). The SCP must then review the circumstances and decide whether a DHR is necessary. If so, it then has to inform the Home Office of the decision to proceed with a review.

Not all cases will be appropriate for a DHR; eg, in circumstances where neither victim nor perpetrator were known to any agency until the death occurred. If the SCP decides not to hold a DHR, the Home Office must be told - the HO has the power to reverse this decision.

If it is felt a DHR is required, the SCP will appoint an independent chair, who will be responsible for production of the final report. The independent chair will request that all the agencies' information about their engagement with the family be presented. The chair will then conduct a series of meetings with them to discuss how well they worked with each other.

Family members, friends and colleagues of the victim are central to the DHR process, if they wish to be. The independent chair will make contact with them to enable them to inform the review constructively, by ensuring a more complete view of the lives of the victim and/or perpetrator, and in order to see the homicide through the eyes of the victim and/or perpetrator.

The chair will also, where possible, interview the perpetrator.

The purpose of a DHR is to:

  • establish what lessons can be learned from the circumstances of the death and the way in which local professionals and organisations worked individually and together to safeguard victims (the victims also include bereaved children, parents and other kin);
  • identify clearly what those lessons are, both within and between agencies, how and within what timescales they will be acted on, and what is expected to change as a result;
  • apply these lessons to service responses, including changes to policies and procedures as appropriate; and
  • help prevent homicides in domestic settings and improve service responses for all domestic violence victims and their children through improved intra- and inter-agency working.

At this stage, all the information that is shared is confidential. It remains so until the Home Office has reviewed it, and approved it for publication.

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