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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Domestic Homicides 2019-2020

Date of request: January 26, 2021
Reference: 111/21

Request

• The number of homicides recorded by the force in the calendar year 2020
• The number of homicides recorded by the force classified as domestic violence in the calendar year 2020
• The number of homicides recorded by the force in the calendar year 2019
• The number of homicides recorded by the force classified as domestic violence in the calendar year 2019
If possible, and it does not exceed the expense limit, the figures above broken down by the victim’s gender and whether the victim was aged under 18.

Response

Please note, Avon and Somerset Constabulary does have a domestic abuse tag that can be applied to incidents recorded on our large scale crime recording system, Niche. However, our Major Crime and Incident Team use a different recording system, Holmes; that records relationship between the victim and suspect as opposed to ‘domestic related’. Depending on the nature of the homicide and our investigation, they may be recorded on either or both of these systems. We have therefore provided two sets of data for you.

For any information that has been retrieved from our Holmes system, we have used the below Home Office definition for domestic violence to determine which data is relevant to your request.

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

Further information about this can be found at the following link:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/142701/guide-on-definition-of-dv.pdf

Please see the information requested below:

Avon and Somerset Constabulary recorded a total of 11 homicides in the calendar year 2020.

Of these, three were female and eight were male. One victim was aged under 18.

Two homicides recorded on Niche in 2020 were tagged as domestic abuse related.

Of these, one was female and one was male. Neither were aged under 18.

Four homicides recorded on Holmes in 2020 had a victim / suspect relationship that would be classified as domestic in accordance with the Home Office definition provided above.

Of these, three were female and one was male. One victim was aged under 18.

One homicide has been recorded on both systems and is therefore included in both of the above statistics.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary recorded a total of seven homicides in the calendar year 2019.

All seven of these victims were male. One was aged under 18.

Zero homicides recorded on Niche in 2019 were tagged as domestic abuse related.

One homicide recorded on Holmes in 2019 had a victim / suspect relationship that would be classified as domestic in accordance with the Home Office definition provided above.

This victim was aged over 18.

Some of the data requested has been considered for disclosure and I can confirm it has been exempt as it is in relation to offences committed by children. It is therefore withheld by virtue of the following exemptions:

Section 38(1) – Health and Safety.

Section 44(1)(a) – Prohibitions on Disclosure.

Section 38 is a qualified and prejudice based exemption therefore as well as considering the public interest in disclosure, there is a requirement to articulate the harm that would be caused by disclosure. Please see this below:

Harm in disclosure

The information requested relates to an investigation into a murder case. Releasing information about any children involved would likely endanger their physical or mental health as it would alert members of the public to them. It may also cause pain to members of the victims / offenders friends and family who may relive distressing memories related to the event.

Public Interest Considerations

Factors favouring disclosure

Disclosure could lead to a better awareness of this type of investigation and enable a better informed debate to be undertaken.

Factors favouring non-disclosure

Release of the information is likely to expose individuals to distressing memories thus risking harm to their mental well-being. This would be relevant to the close friends and family of the victim as well as any other individual involved in the investigation. The constabulary takes their responsibility to protect both the physical and mental health and safety of the communities we serve seriously and any information that could jeopardise this will not be released. The public would lose confidence in our commitment to protecting the wellbeing of our community.

Balancing test

After weighing up the competing interests, I have determined that the disclosure of the above information would not be in the public interest. Although the information requested would be considered interesting to some members of the public, it is not in the public interest to disclose this. I believe the importance of the factors favouring non-disclosure outweigh those considerations favouring disclosure.  At this time the potential harm outweighs any tangible community benefit in complying with section 1(1)(b) of the Act.

Section 44 is also an absolute and class based exemption therefore there is no requirement to conduct a harm or public interest test.

This section states than any information is exempt from disclosure if it is in contravention of any other enactment. The Children Act 2004 states that all persons have a responsibility to safeguard children. As some of the information requested is regarding children, Avon and Somerset Constabulary have a duty to protect their anonymity.

This therefore acts as a partial refusal notice for the data relevant to your request regarding children.

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