Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) may feel like an established part of how we work together to make sense of a domestic homicide, but they are still relatively ‘new’ as a process. After all, they were only introduced in England and Wales in 2011. That’s reflected in the evidence-base; only a handful of reports have been produced by government and charities, including work by the Home Office, Standing Together and a just published study by SCIE. There is also a small but growing body of academic literature (including the recent work by Benbow et al. 2018; Robinson et al. 2018; Stanley et al. 2018; Chantler et al. 2019).
As an Independent Chair of DHRs, I have found this lack of evidence frustrating. It’s hard to get a sense of the learning and recommendations from other DHRs, the common themes that are coming up, as well as what good practice looks like. As a result, it can often feel like DHRs are being conducted in silos, which is precisely the opposite of how they should be working as a whole process.
I am lucky that, since the end of 2018, I have been undertaking a PhD at Sussex University (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council). Not surprisingly, my topic is DHRs. Specifically, I am researching how DHRs work to make sense of a victim’s experiences and tell their story. I am also interested in how decisions are made during the DHR process, how institutional or social change is understood, and how learnings and recommendations are produced.
A key part of my research is exploring the experience of people who have participated in DHRs, as well as hearing from them about what they think worked and did not work, and how they think the process could be improved.
Ultimately, I hope my research will help ensure that DHRs work as well as they can do, which should enable agencies, partnerships and government to improve their ability to safeguard victims of domestic abuse and prevent future homicides.
So, I am excited to be launching the first ‘public-facing’ phase of my PhD study. I am recruiting participants to take part in an online questionnaire. You can take part if you are aged 18 or over and have participated in a DHR in England or Wales. This could be as:
A family member or a friend (of someone who was a subject of a DHR)
In a professional capacity (as an advocate for family or friends, an independent chair, someone who commissioned a DHR, as a panel member, report writer, review panel member, or in some other way)
Or if you are a reader for, or member of, the national Quality Assurance Panel
At the end of the questionnaire, you will also be invited to express an interest in taking part in an interview if you would like to talk in more depth about your experiences.
If you have participated in a DHR, I am hoping you will take part. It will take about 20 minutes. If you want more information about the questionnaire, or are ready to start answering questions, go to: https://universityofsussex.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0OLvxg4o8iVOgN7.