Domestic Abuse Commissioner vows to hold public bodies to account over deaths

The work looked at a sample of 302 reviews following domestic abuse-related deaths between 2012 and 2019. Credit: PA Images

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales has pledged to hold public bodies to account over the action they take to prevent future deaths.

It comes after research carried out in conjunction with Manchester Metropolitan University, found that the majority of victims of domestic homicide were in touch with the police, health services and other public agencies before their deaths.

The work looked at a sample of 302 reviews following domestic abuse-related deaths between 2012 and 2019.

Commissioner Nicole Jacobs said too often changes recommended after domestic homicide reviews – which are carried out following every domestic abuse-related death to see what can be learned – might happen only locally, rather than nationally despite being needed.

Domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales Nicole Jacobs Credit: PA Images

She said "cross-governmental leadership" is necessary to make sure all agencies, ranging from health to children’s services, "make ending domestic homicide a priority".

To that end, she has announced she is launching a "domestic homicide oversight mechanism to hold public bodies and national government to account".

Reports published on Wednesday 6 December by the commissioner’s office focused on recommendations to criminal justice agencies such as police and probation; physical and mental health services; children’s services; and adult social care.

More than half (52%) of victims had already had contact with the police before they were killed, according to a report looking into criminal justice agencies, the commissioner said, while 57% of perpetrators had criminal records for domestic abuse offences before killing their victim.

Nineteen reviews identified children under 18 living in the home, and in five, children were also victims of homicide, the commissioner’s office said.

Some 78% of victims and 69% of perpetrators had been to services such as GPs or hospitals before they died, the report into health services found.

More than two thirds of these reviews found that health services were not sharing information or working together with other agencies, the commissioner’s office added.

There were 12 deaths where the perpetrator was the main carer for the victim, the reports found, and the commissioner’s office said domestic homicide experienced by older people is poorly recognised.

More than half of victims had already had contact with the police before they were killed, according to a report Credit: PA Images

Ms Jacobs said: "Any life lost to domestic homicide is a tragic failure by systems that should be there to protect victims.

"That both victim and perpetrator were known to services in the vast majority of these homicides shows there is a life-saving opportunity to intervene earlier.

"Domestic homicide reviews have been gathering vital learning to prevent future deaths since 2011.

"Until now, there has been no mechanism to ensure the changes these important reviews call for are happening at a regional and national level. Too often, this leads to stagnation and the vital changes to save lives are not made.

"That’s why I’m launching this domestic homicide oversight mechanism to hold public bodies and national government to account so that they take the important steps to preventing future deaths."

Professor Khatidja Chantler, principal investigator of the study, said the findings "illustrate specific gaps" in each area looked at, and called for a "systems-level change" which considers victims and perpetrators including aspects such as race, gender, age, disability and sexuality.

Prof Chantler added: "The Domestic Homicide Oversight Mechanism offers a new possibility for ensuring that lessons from these tragic deaths are acted upon to strengthen responses to domestic abuse."

Domestic Abuse helplines


Fortalice is a Refuge for women and their children escaping domestic abuse.

Their 24 hour advice line for Bolton is 01204 365677, or you can call them on 01204 701846.

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Refuge supports more than 6,000 clients on any one day, helping them rebuild their lives and overcome many different forms of violence and abuse - including domestic violence, sexual violence, so-called ‘honour’-based violence, human trafficking and modern slavery, and female genital mutilation

  • If you, or someone you care about, is experiencing domestic abuse, you can phone The National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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Women's Aid

Women’s Aid is the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. They have been at the forefront of shaping and coordinating responses to domestic violence and abuse through practice for over 45 years.

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Men's Advice Line

Men’s Advice Line is a team of friendly Advisors who will listen and believe you. Its focus is to increase the safety of men experiencing domestic abuse, and the safety of any children, by providing confidential support.

  • You can call on 0808 8010 327 for non-judgemental information and support.

  • Lines are open Monday and Wednesday, 9am to 8pm, and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9am to 5pm

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The Mankind Initiative is the principal, expert and specialist charity in the UK focussing on male victims of domestic abuse. The charity collaborates and works in close partnership with other organisations and practitioners to support these victims too. It was the first in Great Britain to support male victims.

  • You can call ManKind on 01823 334 244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)

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Merseyside Domestic Violence Service

Merseyside Domestic Violence Services (MDVS) formally known as Chrysalis is a registered charity working with women, men, children, young people and families whose lives have been affected in some way by the issues related to domestic violence and cultural/honour based crime.

For assistance call or text 07802 722703, or email

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