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Funding awarded for research into domestic abuse-related deaths

New research at University of Gloucestershire aimed at identifying successful interventions to help prevent further domestic abuse-related deaths has been awarded Government funding.

Professor Jane Monckton-Smith, Professor of Public Protection, and Dr Dan Ash, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, have partnered with a number of police forces, including Gloucestershire Police, and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) services on a study entitled Preventing Domestic Abuse Related Homicide and Suicide: learning lessons about perpetrators and interventions from ‘near-miss’ cases.

The study has received £56,869 in funding from a national Government package totaling £1.4 million to support 21 projects that build on existing research related to domestic abuse-related deaths.

There were 163 domestic homicides (murder by a current or ex-partner, family member or co-habitee) and 38 suspected suicides of victims with a known history of domestic abuse in the 12 months to 31 March 2021, according to a Home Office-funded study established by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing. The victim was female in three out of four cases.

Professor Monckton-Smith (pictured), whose internationally renowned research specialises in homicide,  said: “Four domestic abuse-related deaths a week is unacceptable and we need to do everything we can to learn lessons from these tragic incidents.

“We are pleased to have been awarded Government funding for our study that aims to help cover gaps in areas where there is currently limited knowledge, along with the other projects that have received support.

“We have partnered with a number of police forces and IDVA services to talk about cases where a homicide or suicide might have been averted, to learn about successful interventions.

“The standard approach is to review lessons learned after a death, so in our research we want to look at the interventions that professionals believed worked in potentially stopping a death – the so called ‘near-miss cases’. This is an approach used more widely in the health sector and it has been found to have benefits.

“Our study will gather data on perpetrators of domestic abuse and practitioner interventions from ‘near-miss’ cases and identify the interventions that professionals identify as successful.

“We will then produce a framework that highlights when interventions have had a positive outcome, what type of intervention was used and why it might have been successful, in a way that will be a quick reference for professionals responding to high-risk cases.”

As well as Gloucestershire Police, partner organisations in the study include Staffordshire Police, Kent Police, Dyfed Powys Police, Northamptonshire Police, Victim Support IDVA Service and Aurora New Dawn IDVA service.

Announcing the £21 million in funding for the 21 projects, Safeguarding Minister Rachel Maclean MP said: “Research plays a vital role in strengthening our approach to preventing domestic abuse and safeguarding victims.

“This new funding will enable organisations to significantly improve our understanding of many aspects of perpetrators’ behaviour and I look forward to seeing the results.”