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  • Author or Editor: Kelly Bracewell x
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Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) are a statutory review process to better understand domestic homicide in England and Wales. As a policy intervention, DHRs are intended to build a picture of the circumstances before such deaths and identify gaps in practice, policy and system response. The rationale is that this learning can improve response to domestic violence and abuse and reduce the likelihood of future homicides. However, little is known about how the DHR process operates, including how knowledge is produced or its subsequent use, including any outcomes. In effect, for the most part, DHRs are a ‘black box’. Yet, researchers are increasingly using DHR reports as a source of data. By locating ourselves within these processes, this article explores the implications of limited engagement with DHRs as a process of knowledge generation to date. It focuses on the implications for researchers, in particular the epistemological and methodological issues that arise, before considering what this might mean for policy and practice. It identifies recommendations to address key gaps in the understanding and use of DHRs for research purposes.

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Refuges or shelters have been central to UK domestic violence service provision since the 1970s. In 2013, UK policy transformed teenagers into primary service users of domestic violence refuges. Digital technology is central to teenagers’ lives but moving to a refuge can cause serious disruption in this respect.

The study was undertaken in 20 refuges in England. Repeat qualitative interviews with 20 young people aged 13–18 and single interviews with refuge staff explored teenagers’ experiences of refuge life. Access to digital technology emerged as a central theme for this group of young people.

Teenagers described difficulties in accessing digital technology and the internet in refuges and this impacted on their education, support networks and leisure. Restrictions concerning online access in refuges were attributed to safety concerns and resource shortfalls. This study found that restrictions on internet access lacked consistency across refuges and were underpinned by protectionist attitudes towards teenagers. Refuges need to seek a balance between risk and protectionism and identify opportunities to use digital technologies to increase the safety and support available to teenagers.

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In the context of high rates of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) during the pandemic, specialist DVA services have been required to adapt rapidly to continue to deliver essential support to women and children in both refuges and the community. This study examines service users’ experiences and views of DVA service provision under COVID-19 and discusses implications for future practice. Data are drawn from a wider evaluation of DVA services in five sites in England. Fifty-seven semi-structured interviews and five focus groups were conducted with 70 female survivors and seven children accessing DVA services during the pandemic. Analysis identified key themes in respect of the influence of COVID-19 on the experience of service delivery. COVID-19 restrictions had both positive and negative implications for service users. Remote support reduced face-to-face contact with services, but consistent communication counteracted isolation. Digital practices offered effective means of providing individual and group support, but there were concerns that not all children were able to access online support. Digital support offered convenience and control for survivors but could lack privacy and opportunities for relationship-building. The pivot to remote delivery suggests directions where DVA services can expand the range and nature of future service provision.

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Increasing evidence documents domestic violence and abuse (DVA) and domestic homicide of adults killed by a relative in non-intimate partner relationships. Most literature focuses on intimate partner violence and homicide, yet non-intimate partner homicides form a substantial but neglected minority of domestic homicides. This article addresses this gap by presenting an analysis from 66 domestic homicide reviews (DHRs) in England and Wales where the victim and perpetrator were related, such as parent and adult child. Intimate partner homicides are excluded. These 66 DHRs were a sub-sample drawn from a larger study examining 317 DHRs in England and Wales.

The article contributes towards greater understanding of the prevalence, context and characteristics of adult family homicide (AFH). Analysis revealed five interlinked precursors to AFH: mental health and substance/alcohol misuse, criminal history, childhood trauma, economic factors and care dynamics. Findings indicate that, given their contact with both victims and perpetrators, criminal justice agencies, adult social care and health agencies, particularly mental health services, are ideally placed to identify important risk and contextual factors. Understanding of DVA needs to extend to include adult family violence. Risk assessments need to be cognisant of the complex dynamics of AFH and must consider social-structural and relational-contextual factors.

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