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Femicide: No improvement in violence against women
Latest Femicide census finds at least 147 women were killed by men in 2021.

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Three quarters of women killed in their own home

The most recent edition of the hardest of all reports to read, the Femicide Census, was published this Monday, 1 July 2024. This edition covers the calendar year 2021; publication of the census is typically two to three years later than the year it covers for the very important reason that the team wait for the conclusion of the criminal justice process before publishing. 

What is the femicide census?

The Femicide Census is a database containing information on nearly 1500 women killed by men in England and Wales since 2009. It is a ground-breaking project which aims to provide a clearer picture of men’s fatal violence against women by allowing for detailed tracking and analysis. It was developed by Karen Ingala Smith and Women’s Aid working in partnership, with support from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Deloitte LLP.

The Femicide Census has become established as a leading articulation of men’s fatal violence against women in the UK.  It plays a key part in the identification of patterns of femicide, the circumstances leading up to it and the response of the criminal justice system.

The Femicide Census collects and collates data relating to all women and girls aged 14 and over who have been killed by men in the UK, and the men who have killed them. To date they have documented 147 women and girls killed by men in 2021. In addition, at least six UK women were killed by men abroad. These 6 women are not included in the analysis in the report. The table below shows the deaths of women recorded since 2009.

 

Findings

At least 147 women were killed by 144 men in 2021, the name of every woman killed by a man in that year is listed at the start of the report; a terrible reminder that the census is talking about lives lost and families devastated, not report statistics. The report is dedicated to these 147 women.

In 2021, like previous years, most women killed by men were killed by a current or former partner (53%), of those at least half had left or were taking steps to leave him. The average between 2009 and the end of 2021 is 60%. A further 19 women (13%) were immediate family members and 8 (5%) part of the perpetrator’s extended family. Just seventeen women (11%) had no known relationship with their killer.

Almost three quarters of women (74%) were killed in their home and a sharp instrument, consistently the most common method used in men’s fatal violence against women, was used in 52 per cent of cases of woman killing by men.

In most cases (72%) men used one method of violence to kill. In 22% of cases, two or more forms of violence were used. Evidence of ‘overkilling’ (the use of excessive, gratuitous violence beyond that necessary to cause the victim’s death) was found in at least 94 (64%) deaths. There was evidence of violation of a deceased woman’s body in 42 femicides (29%).

The most troubling fact in the report is that eighty-eight men (62%) were known to have histories of violence against women and/or were subject to monitoring or restrictions by a statutory agency at the time they killed a woman.

Another profoundly distressing fact is that 35 (24%) women were aged 66 years or older.

The killers

Conversely, men who kill women have a different age profile to that of the women they kill. Only 10 men who killed women (7%) were aged over 66 years. This is not an anomaly, the same trend has been observed over the course of the census reports.

Nearly one quarter (24%) of the men showed indications of problematic substance use.

Criminal justice outcomes

122 men (85% of all killers, 97% of those men charged) were charged with murder, double or multiple murder. 6 men (3.5% of all killers, 4% of those charged) were charged with manslaughter or culpable homicide. 16 men (10%) killed themselves after they killed a woman or women and therefore escaped justice.

79 men (68%) who had been charged with murder were found guilty of murder, 33 men (29%) who had been charged with murder were found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Men found guilty of murder were handed sentences between 11 and 37 years, with two men given whole life sentences. 

Five men (3%) were subject to indefinite hospital orders or detained under the mental health act.

The report was deliberately published immediately prior to the general election with the Femicide Census team stating:

“It is vital that the incoming government understands that it is not good enough to leave femicide reform to grieving families and loved ones.”

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