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Calls to stem ‘devastating’ rise of femicides

Campaigners and Labour demand government act as killings of women and girls reach 14-year peak

CAMPAIGNERS have called for an urgent inquiry after new figures exposed today a “devastating” rise in femicide in England and Wales.

Office for National Statistics figures show that the number of women and girls killed through homicide has soared, with nearly half being victims of domestic abuse.

Around 241 women and girls were victims of murder, manslaughter or infanticide in the 12 months to March 2019, the ONS data showed today.

The 10 per cent rise, from 220 the previous year, means that femicide is at its highest level since 2006.

Of the adults, 48 per cent were killed in a domestic homicide – an increase of 14 per cent from the previous year.

End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAWC) and Labour said that the rise was “extremely worrying.”

Shadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler called on the government to “urgently outline what actions it will now take to help protect women and prevent this from happening.”

EVAWC director Sarah Green called for an “urgent, detailed examination of every case and what failings they have in common.”

The group’s head of public affairs Andrea Simon said: “We should never forget that a significant proportion of violent crime is linked to domestic abuse.

“We need police that are trained to recognise the coercive and controlling behaviour that commonly precedes domestic abuse homicides and respond to those threats appropriately.

“Survivors of domestic abuse and rape are too often put at risk by police failing to use bail conditions and releasing suspects under investigation. This has to change if we are serious about protecting victims.”

The report found that female victims were most likely to be killed in or around a domestic space, amounting to 71 per cent of offences.

In nearly four in 10 killings of adults, the suspect was a partner or ex-partner – up 17 instances from 63 the previous year.

One of those victims was 49-year-old Kay Richardson, who was beaten and strangled to death by her estranged husband Alan Martin in September 2018. It came just days after he had been arrested for allegedly raping her.

Victim Support’s external affairs manager Alex Mayes said that the rise was “deeply disturbing.”

He said: “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 urging the government to guarantee a safe home for anyone fleeing domestic violence in discussions on the upcoming Domestic Abuse Bill.

The group’s head of policy and campaigns Hannah Gousy 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.”

The number of baby girls and toddlers killed over the same period was also the highest in a decade, as 14 girls under the age of one and 13 toddlers aged between one and four were victims.

In the year to March 2009 – the earliest available figures – six babies and eight children between one and four were killed.


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