I am pleased to announce today that the Government have issued two publications. One is a consultation document on guidance for conducting domestic homicide reviews across England and Wales, under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 and the second is our annual domestic violence progress report. Copies of both publications have been placed in the Library and are also available from the crime reduction website at www.crimereduction.gov.uk/dv01.htm.
These publications are the latest phase in a long line of work aimed at tackling domestic violence, a crime that ruins families and devastates lives.
Section 9 of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004, establishes a statutory basis for conducting domestic homicide reviews. The Act imposes a duty on named agencies to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State as to establishing or conducting such reviews. The named agencies are: chief police officers; local probation boards; local authorities; strategic health authorities; primary care trusts; local health boards and NHS trusts.
Under the Act a domestic homicide review is defined as a 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 he/she was related or with whom he/she was or had been in an intimate personal relationship; or
a member of the same household as himself/herself,
held with a view to identifying the lessons to be learnt from the death. In practice this will include:
Identifying the lessons to be learnt from the death, in particular about how local professionals and agencies work together to safeguard victims;
identifying how those lessons will be acted upon and what is expected to change as a result; and
improving inter-agency working and improving protection for domestic violence victims to help prevent future deaths.
Domestic homicide reviews are designed to complement the existing serious case reviews (SCRs) that take place when a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is known or suspected to have played a part in the death or serious injury.
The Government want to ensure that the reviews do not simply become a bureaucratic exercise. We will want to ensure that local agencies learn the lessons and implement any recommendations made by the reviews, and that findings with national relevance are shared and acted upon.
The consultation period will end on 13 September 2006
The progress report provides an update on the comprehensive framework set out in last year's national delivery plan for domestic violence and the Government's achievements on this. All the achievements outlined in the delivery plan have only been possible because of the close partnership working across Government and with the support and help of the public, private and non-Government sectors. Future developments are predicated upon partnership making. It also looks forward to activities planned in 2006-07 and gives direction to local partnerships, agencies and communities on how to protect adult and child victims of domestic violence and bring perpetrators to justice.