Reducing Homicide: a review of the possibilities

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    This report explores the potential for reducing homicide in the UK. It draws upon data from the Homicide Index, international research on homicide, and the general crime reduction literature. Homicide is highly diverse in its characteristics, causes and dynamics, so effective strategies to reduce it are likely to require tailoring to specific types of homicide. The report focuses upon four important categories: domestic (partner) homicide; the killing of infants; alcohol-related homicide; and homicide involving guns and knives. Attention is also paid briefly to homicide victimisation in relation to specific occupations.
    Homicide is a relatively rare event: between 800 and 850 homicides are officially recorded annually across the UK, which translates to 16-17 per week (this excludes deaths due to, for example, dangerous driving or corporate negligence). It is, however, possible to identify certain patterns and characteristics. Many of these features are also observed in violent crime
    more generally, which supports the view that homicide can be best understood as an extreme manifestation of serious violence, influenced by similar factors, rather than a quite separate form of behaviour.

    Three potentially fruitful approaches to prevention are distinguished, all of which are prominent in the discussions of the four selected categories of homicide:
    • to develop a range of strategies to reduce the frequency of interpersonal violence in general (the assumption being that this would bring with it a reduction in homicide);
    • to identify people, locations or situations associated with an exceptionally high risk of serious violence, and to ‘target’ these for preventive interventions;
    • to identify ways of reducing the likelihood that an assault will end lethally.
    It is, however, worth noting that there are other (less common) kinds of homicide, marked by a strong determination to kill rather than injure, where general violence reduction strategies (especially ‘situational’ initiatives) are less likely to be effective.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherResearch Development and Statistics Directorate, Home Office
    Number of pages63
    ISBN (Print)1 84082 952 4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

    Publication series

    NameHome Office Online Report
    PublisherHome Office


    • Homicide in the United Kingdom
    • Home Office Report


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