Characteristics of the victims of homicide
The characteristics of the victims of homicide can vary greatly from year to year, as the overall numbers of offences is relatively low. However, there are some key patterns from the data:
- The majority of homicide victims in England and Wales are male. In the year ending March 2022, 72% of victims were male and 28% were female.
- Female victims of homicide have most commonly been killed by a partner or ex-partner, accounting for 59% of victims in the last decade where the relationship could be determined.
- Male victims of homicide have most commonly been killed by a friend or acquaintance (40% of victims where the relationship was determined).
- In the year ending March 2022, the rate of homicide was highest for Black and Black British victims and lowest for those of Mixed or multiple ethnicities.
Method of killing
In the year ending March 2022, 41% of homicides involved a sharp instrument. This was the most common method of killing, followed by hitting or kicking (without the use of a weapon).
Sentencing and convictions
As of May 2023, charges had been made in almost two thirds (63%) of homicide cases recorded in 2021/22. Just under a quarter (24%) of cases had not been assigned an outcome.
In the most recent year, the year to March 2022, 414 people were indicted for homicide and 318 were convicted.
How does this all compare to the situation in other countries?
The definitions of offences vary in different countries. For example, use of the term ‘homicide’ to refer to manslaughter, murder and infanticide (as in the UK) is common in many countries, but not all.
Different social and economic conditions, as well as legal and criminal justice systems, may affect the number of homicides recorded.
Furthermore, homicides are recorded at different points in the criminal justice system depending on the country. For example, it may be recorded when the offence is discovered or on completion of legal proceedings. In some countries, the police will record a death as homicide if it cannot immediately be attributed to other causes.
The most recent comparative European data for the UK is from 2018, when the homicide rate for England and Wales ranked 18 out of 38, with 11.4 homicides per million population. Northern Ireland ranked 16 and Scotland 19.
The most recent figures are for 2020 which show that Latvia had the highest rate of homicide in Europe, with 49 offences per million population. Latvia was followed by Lithuania, Estonia, and Liechtenstein.
The lowest rate was recorded in Luxembourg (3.2 offences per million population) followed by Italy and Slovenia.