The number of domestic homicides stayed relatively stable during the counter-coronavirus lockdowns, a police-commissioned report has found. Some commentators had predicted a rise as victims of domestic abuse would be trapped with the perpetrator.
In the event, there were 163 domestic homicides with a known history of domestic abuse in the 12 months to 31 March this year.
Though up on the previous year’s figure of 152, it is in line with the 15-year average, according to the authors of the Domestic Homicides and Suspected Victim Suicides During the Covid-19 Pandemic 2020-2021 report by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing.
Nevertheless, they concluded the findings show that domestic homicide remains an entrenched and enduring problem
“Although there has not been a significant change in the numbers during the pandemic, all organisations in this sector agree that more needs to be done to reduce further incidents.
“A continuing situation where between two and three women are murdered every week by their partners or ex-partners is unacceptable,” the authors added.
The research also found Covid-19 sometimes acted as an escalator and intensifier of existing abuse, with victims less able to seek help due to coronavirus restrictions.
The report concluded that though Covid-19 had not caused a domestic homicide, the pandemic had been weaponised by some abusers as both a new tool of control over victims, and – in some cases – as an excuse or defence for abuse or homicide of the victim.
The report also found 38 suspected victim suicides with a known history of domestic abuse. The authors cautioned the figure cannot be compared with previous years as this was the first time the data had been captured in such a way.