University of Sussex
Rowlands, James Henry.pdf (7.07 MB)

‘Illuminating the past to make the future safer?’ Exploring the potential and peril of domestic homicide reviews as a mechanism for change

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posted on 2023-06-10, 06:42 authored by James Rowlands
Since 2011, domestic abuse (DA)-related deaths in England and Wales have been subject to a ‘Domestic Homicide Review’ (DHR). A DHR brings together a range of stakeholders – including representatives from organisations that had contact with a victim, as well as those who knew them – to build a picture of case circumstances and identify learning to improve practice, policy, and systems. To date, DHRs have been seen as enabling efforts to improve responses to DA and contributing to the prevention of future deaths. Reflecting this, research has focused on DHR findings. As a result, the doing of DHRs – including the operational, discursive, and symbolic practices involved – have been largely unexamined, both for DHRs as individual case examinations but also collectively as a state-mandated counting mechanism. Drawing on interviews with stakeholders, as well as published DHR reports and the results of a web-based survey, this research examines DHRs as a process, product, and a system. This thesis approaches DHRs as a technology of power, doing so through the prism of use by examining what DHR is for, what is used by and in DHR, and how DHRs are themselves used. This thesis goes on to argue that DHRs have potential as one way of accounting for a victim’s experiences and generating knowledge to bring about changes to practice, policy, and systems. However, this thesis also argues that, as a technology, DHRs are marked by complexity and tension in their establishment and doing that can be perilous, with this being to the detriment of learning, stakeholder experience, and the story told about a victim’s death. This thesis concludes by identifying the implications for policy, practice, research, and theory, and makes a call to broaden approaches to DHRs by seeking to deliver both procedural and outcome justice.


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University of Sussex

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