Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) were established under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 and became a statutory requirement on 13th April 2011.
A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) is a multi-agency review of the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a person to whom they were related or with whom they were, or had been, in an intimate personal relationship, or a member of the same household as themselves. Since 13 April 2011 there has been a statutory requirement for local areas to conduct a DHR following a domestic homicide that meets the criteria.
What makes a good Domestic Homicide Review?
The review is underpinned by principles, some of which are:
- Independence - It should be very clear to the family that the Chair is independent of the agencies contributing to the reivew
- Humility - Openness to learning and not being defensive; willingness to admit one's limitations and believing that others may hold answers currently unknown by you
- No Blame - Efforts are directed at learning
- Victim Centred - Central to the reivew is how the victim percieved both her chances and what the agencies were offering. Family and friends can also make an empirical contribution to the review as agency records are ofthen incomplete or may have errors. Information from these sources can rebalance the forensic narrative until that point formed by input only from agencies and often, the perpetrator, for example during a trial. An accurate narrative means we learn from an aiuthentic history.
- Broad Based, thorough and honest - Reviewers need to go wherever necessary to ensure they know the circumstances in the lead up to the homicide.
Other factors making for good reviews:
- Seeking the truth is a focus of the review.
- Information contained in organisational records is cross checked.
- The report:
- Is concise
- Gets to the 'heart' of the matter
- Is well crafted and accessible
- Helps the reader understand something about the lives of victims and perpetrators
- Demonstrates an understanding of Coercive Control & the dynamics of abuse
- Is capable of causing improvements that will protect others
What makes a bad Domestic Homicide Review?
- Poor scoping
- Inadequate understanding of role and contribution of family and friends
- Thinking that statutory records are complete and provide everything that is needed
- Perceiving the lead up to the homicide only from the reviewers' and statutory agencies' perspective
- Insufficient professional curiosity
- Victim blaming
- Blaming of front line workers
- Doing it for the sake of doing it
- Poor quality report