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Domestic homicide in NSW, January 2003  -  June 2008


Click here for the full report (pdf, 403Kb)

Release date: 27 November 2009

New research by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has overturned the conventional wisdom that offenders in domestic homicide incidents are well known to police prior to the homicide.

The Bureau examined trends and characteristics of domestic homicides in NSW over the period January 2003 to June 2008.

During this time, there were 215 victims of domestic homicide; 115 females and 100 males. Intimate partners were responsible for 43 per cent of domestic homicide victims (70 females and 23 males). One in five victims were killed by their parents. Twenty-one per cent of male victims, compared with 13 per cent of female victims were less than five years of age.

Over three-quarters of offenders were male, and one-third of offenders may have had a history of mental illness and/or been suffering from mental illness at the time of the homicide.

Seventy-four per cent of offenders had no contact with police for violence-related incidents in the 12 months prior to the homicide, and 48 per cent had no contact in the five years prior to the homicide.

Victims of domestic homicide were even less likely to have come to the attention of police.

Only 10 per cent of domestic homicide victims were recorded by police as having been involved in an incident of domestic violence involving the same offender in the 12 months prior to their death.

The Bureau found that the rate of domestic homicide per year remained stable, ranging from a low of 0.46 per 100,000 population in 2004 to a high of 0.63 per 100,000 population in 2006.

Stabbing was the most common act causing death, with knives used in over one-third of domestic homicides. The use of knives increased over the period, while the use of firearms decreased.

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn said that they highlighted the difficulties involved in trying to prevent domestic homicide.

"Identifying cases where a victim of domestic violence is at risk of being killed is extremely difficult, if not impossible", he said. "That is why it is so important to raise the general level of protection for all victims".

Further enquiries:Dr Don Weatherburn, 9231-9190 or 0419-494-408
Copies of the report inpdf