Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs)
Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) were established on a statutory basis under section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (DVCA 2004) and came into force on 13 April 2011. A DHR is a locally conducted 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 he or she was related, or with whom he or she was or had been in an intimate personal relationship; or
- a member of the same household as himself or herself.
This includes where a victim took their own life (suicide) and the circumstances give rise to concern, for example it emerges that there was coercive controlling behaviour in the relationship.
Overall responsibility for establishing a review rests with the local Community Safety Partnership (CSPs), as they are ideally placed to initiate a DHR and review panel due to their multi-agency design and locations across England and Wales. CSPs are made up of representatives from the ‘responsible authorities’ (police, local authorities, fire and rescue authorities, probation service and health) who work together to protect their local communities from crime and help people feel safer.
Their purpose is not to reinvestigate the death or apportion blame, but to:
- Establish what lessons are to be learned from the domestic homicide, regarding the way in which local professionals and organisations work individually and together to safeguard victims.
- Identify clearly what those lessons are, both within and between agencies, how they will be acted on, within what timescales, and what is expected to change as a result.
- Apply these lessons to service responses including changes to policies and procedures as appropriate.
- Prevent domestic abuse homicide and improve service responses for all domestic abuse victims and their children, through improved intra and inter-agency working.
The DHR will usually draw upon information obtained from:
- Interviewing family members.
- Interviewing significant people who may have known the victim.
- Obtaining information from participating agencies, either by way of an Individual Management Review (IMR), or by other means such as a chronology of events.
There is further statutory guidance on the government website Domestic homicide reviews: statutory guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)