This briefing paper looks at homicide statistics in England and Wales. It also looks at equivalent statistics for Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as comparing international statistics on homicide. The paper also examines statistics concerning the characteristics of victims and offenders, the methods used to kill and the outcomes for offenders. This paper updates and supersedes the Commons Library Homicide Statistics Research Paper (99/56) published on 27 May 1999.

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Number of Victims by Gender

In 2018/19, just under two thirds (64%) of the total 671 victims of offences currently recorded as homicide were male and over a quarter were female (36%). The proportion of female victims (36%) matched the highest proportion previously recorded in 2014/15.

Homicide Rates

In 2018/19, the homicide rate per million population in England and Wales was 11.4, in Scotland it was 11.0, and in Northern Ireland 13.8.

Until the 1960s, Northern Ireland experienced relatively low homicide rates. After this, levels increased considerably during the troubles, before gradually returning to rates similar to the rest of the UK by the end of the 1990s.

Homicide by Method of Killing in England and Wales , 2017/18

In 2018/19, the most common method of killing (39%) involved the use of a sharp instrument. This was the most common method of killing for both male and female victims at 46% and 25% respectively.

Strangulation and asphyxiation was the next most prevalent method of death for females (41 out of 241 victims). The second most common method for men involved hitting, kicking, etc (79 out of 429 victims). As a proportion of all homicides, hitting, kicking, etc was also the second most common for all victims accounting for 16% of deaths (106 deaths).

  • Commons Research Briefing CBP-8224
  • Authors: Grahame Allen, Yago Zayed

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