The Department of Justice has today published a summary report on a review carried out by a Domestic Homicide Review Panel.
Domestic Homicide Reviews are carried out by an independent Chair with the support of a panel of representatives from statutory and voluntary and community organisations, who gather and review information pertinent to the case. The process is essentially about learning, to improve services and support families who are living with domestic abuse.
The independent review panel for this case included a range of representatives from organisations including Women’s Aid, Health & Social Care Trusts, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) and the Department of Health’s Strategic Planning and Performance Group (formerly the Health and Social Care Board) and was chaired by Anne Marks.
The Executive Summary report on the Domestic Homicide Review for ‘Ellen’ has been published at the publication section of this website.
Notes to editors:
1. Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) were introduced in Northern Ireland in December 2020 under Section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crimes and Victims Act 2004 (the 2004 Act).
2. A DHR may only be considered when it may result in identifying lessons to be learned and within the following circumstances:
i. The deceased person is aged 16 or over;
ii. The death has or appears to have resulted from violence, abuse or neglect, which has been caused by:
- A person to whom the victim was related, or
- A person with whom they had been in an intimate personal relationship with, or
- A member of the same household.
3. Reports are produced by the independent DHR Panel Chair at the request of the Department of Justice.
4. The Review concluded in March 2022, but has since been subject to processes and engagement with departmental leads, the Coroner’s office and family members.
5. Since the conclusion of the DHR Review, the Department of Justice has progressed a wide programme of work to address domestic abuse, which is relevant to the recommendations. This includes;
- In April 2022, the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Bill received Royal Assent to become the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022. This legislation includes the offence of ‘non-fatal strangulation or asphyxiation’. This new offence will address problems associated with the existing offence of strangulation which includes statutory limitations, making it difficult to charge. As a result, alternative assault charges are typically used at present, carrying lower maximum sentences and making recording incidences of the offence of strangulation problematic. Implementation work is underway with a view to commencing the new offence during 2023.
- The Department of Justice and Department of Health have completed a ‘Call for Views’ exercise and have prepared a draft Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy for Northern Ireland, which will be consulted on. The tenure of the current Strategy ends in 2023.
6. The Department of Justice is aware that other relevant statutory agencies have also progressed work to address the report’s recommendations.
7. Given the personal information and sensitivities contained within this Review, pseudonyms have been used to help protect the identity of individuals and, in particular, children. While it may be possible to identify the specific case from information provided, given the relatively small population of Northern Ireland, the Department is mindful of endeavouring to ensure individuals’ privacy is respected.
8. Media enquiries for the Department of Justice should be directed via email.
9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.
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