Report of the Cabinet Member for Communities
The Select Committee were informed that a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) was a multi-agency review of the circumstances around the death of an individual aged 16 years or older where this had (or appeared to have) resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a person to whom the individual was related, or with whom they were, or had been, in an intimate relationship, or by a member of the same household as themselves. In April 2011 it became a statutory requirement for local areas to conduct a DHR following a domestic homicide, with the local Community Safety Partnership responsible for conducting the DHR and the implementation of any recommendations resulting from it.
In 2018 an analysis of DHRs in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent was commissioned by the multi-agency Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Domestic Abuse Commissioning and Development Board. The Review considered outcomes from all completed DHRs across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to identify any trends or themes. Of the fourteen statutory DHRs considered, six were Staffordshire based. In addition to DHRs, Staffordshire (excluding Stoke-on-Trent) had also conducted four Domestic Abuse Multi-Agency Learning Reviews (MALRs). MALRs followed the same process as DHRs, although (unlike DHRs) their final reports were not sent to the Home Office for quality assurance and were not published. The Review therefore considered 18 reviews (DHRs and MALRs) in total.
Members received a copy of the Review summary of key findings. Of the total DHRs and MALRs in Staffordshire 3 (30%) involved male victims and 7 (70%) involved female victims. Of the 18 Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire DHRs and MALRs 6 (33%) involved male victims and 12 (67%) involved female victims. This was broadly in line with National Home Office figures published in 2016 of 50 (32%) male victims and 107 (68%) female victims.
Of the 14 Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent DHRs, seven were killed by a partner or ex-partner, six were killed by a family member and one was killed by a member of the same household, in this instance landlord/lodger. The youngest Staffordshire DHR victim was 19 years and the oldest was 73, with victims in their 40s being the most prevalent age group. In Stoke-on-Trent the prevalence was for ages 30-50. The most common method of killing the victim in Staffordshire was by stabbing, whilst the most common method in Stoke-on-Trent was via blunt force, with or without a weapon.
For all DHRs in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent the ethnicity of the perpetrators was White British. The ethnicity of the victims was White British for 12 cases, with two cases recorded as having Asian victims. Members asked for clarification of the ethnicity of the two victims recorded as Asian, asking if these were British Asian. These cases had been Stoke-on-Trent based and Officers agreed to clarify this after the meeting.
Members were informed that an action plan was produced as part of each DHR which looked at how any recommendations made would be implemented. The Community Safety Partnership in the area where the victim lived was responsible for monitoring the implementation of any recommendations made in a timely manner. Where the Partnership had concerns over recommendation implementation they could refer their concerns to the Domestic Abuse Commissioning and Development Board.
The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Domestic Abuse Strategy had considered learning from reviews and looked to address these. In particular consideration had been given to the prevalence of mental health issues and substance misuse. The Domestic Abuse Commissioning and Development Board had endorsed the commissioning of services that promoted prevention, including work around healthy relationships at an early age.
As part of any DHR or MALR, those agencies involved would be expected to undertake a review of their role and actions in relation to the subjects of the review. Members had some concerns over the thoroughness of a review where this was completed by the agency themselves. Members were informed that each agency’s review was undertaken by an individual who had not been involved in the case and who had no line management responsibility for those staff involved. Each agency’s review of their role was then considered by an independent panel who would consider it objectively. The Chair of a review was independent and often subject specialists relevant to the case would be included on the Review Panel.
Members also heard that the DHR and MALR cases were spread across the County, with no hot spot areas of particular concern. There was only one area that had not yet had cause to conduct either a DHR or a MALR, that being Lichfield.
Members heard details of victim support services and services to help address offenders’ behaviour. Both services were delivered under the brand name of New Era.
Whilst the Review had necessarily been considering published DHRs and completed MALRs, and therefore the information was historic, Members heard that the issues presenting in DHRs currently underway were not dissimilar to those highlighted in the Review.
a) the learning from DHRs and the way in which this learning is used be supported; and
b) clarification over the ethnicity of the two domestic homicide Asian victims be forwarded to Members.