Number of female homicide victims up 10% in year to March 2019

By Henry Vaughan and Flora Thompson, PA

The number of female victims of homicides in England and Wales rose by 10% in the year up to March 2019, to the highest number since 2006, official figures show.

Almost half (48%) of adult women were killed in a domestic homicide, while the suspect was their partner or ex-partner in nearly four in 10 (38% or 80) incidents, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The rise in the number of female victims to 241 from 220 the previous year is the second annual increase and the highest number since the year ending March 2006, when there were also 241.

The ONS report published on Thursday said female victims were most likely to be killed in or around a home, accounting for 71% or 170 offences.

(PA Graphics)

Alex Mayes, external affairs manager at charity Victim Support, said: “It is deeply disturbing to see that more women are being killed, in part, due to a rise in homicides as a result of domestic abuse.

“Working with the families bereaved by murder and manslaughter, we know that the impact of these crimes is devastating to both families and communities.

“These statistics highlight the fatal impact of domestic abuse, and show how much more needs to be done to tackle abuse and keep victims safe.”

Homeless charity Crisis is calling for the Government to guarantee a safe home for anyone fleeing domestic violence in the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill.

Hannah Gousy, head of policy and external affairs at homeless charity Crisis, said: “These figures are a devastating reminder of why it’s so important for women experiencing domestic violence to have somewhere safe to escape to, and how our continued failure to act is having fatal consequences.

“We know that leaving an abuser can be one of the most dangerous times, but currently we’re leaving women with no option but to return to the very place and person they were trying to flee from, because they have nowhere else to go. This is truly shameful, we can and must do better than this.”

There were 662 separate homicide incidents in the 12 months to March 2019 – up 3% from the 644 the previous year and the highest since 2008, when there were 712.

Overall, there were 671 victims of homicide, 33 or 5% fewer than the previous year – the first fall since 2015.

However, this was partly due to those killed in the London and Manchester terror attacks and the Shoreham air crash being included in the 2018 figures.

The ONS said the drop in offences recorded as murder, manslaughter or infanticide in the 12-month period was driven by a fall in male victims, which dropped 11%, from 484 to 429.

But the majority of victims, just under two thirds (64%), were male and just over a third (36%) were female.

The most common method of killing continued to be stabbing, with 259 homicides committed with a sharp instrument, down 8%, with a fall of 23 offences, on the previous year.