The number of people killed in Britain due to domestic violence jumped to a five-year high in 2018, according to information released by police departments in England and Wales Friday.
Domestic violence-related homicides accounted for 173 deaths in Britain last year, 32 more than in 2017. Women made up most of the victims and perpetrators were mainly men, according to statistics.
“These statistics are truly horrifying,” Sandra Horley, the chief executive of the British domestic abuse organization Refuge, said in a statement. “Domestic violence is a national travesty and the biggest issue facing women and girls worldwide.
“Now more than ever, violence against women and girls must be taken seriously. But change will not happen without pressure, and we know that women and girls depend on us to keep pushing for action. To put it simply, without the necessary action to address violence against women and girls, these appalling statistics are unlikely to be reduced,” Horley continued.
The issue has caught the attention of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said Thursday he plans to roll out bills that will start to address some of the issues around domestic violence.
“Domestic abuse shatters lives and tears families apart,” Johnson said on Twitter. “We are fully committed to tackling this horrific crime — which is why the Queen’s speech will confirm we will be reintroducing domestic abuse legislation in the next session.”
Liverpool University criminologist Sandra Walklate said, though, that beyond legislation, law enforcement agencies need to work together and view domestic violence from the same lens.
“What might change behavior is to ensure that police forces, health services, education, social services all speak from the same hymn sheet in relation to violence against women,” Walklate said. “It is at that point at which you start to send out general messages that this is not tolerable.”