Fatal domestic abuse reporting: new guidelines must be backed up by code change

The press complaints-handler IPSO, and the independent regulator IMPRESS, have adopted campaign group Level Up’s guidelines on fatal domestic abuse reporting. Whilst IMPRESS have vowed to consider changes to their standards code, to ensure that the guidelines are taken seriously and breaches are sanctionable, IPSO do not appear to have made any undertakings further to the adoption of unenforceable guidelines.


The guidance has been published on both organisations’ websites. This development has been welcomed by experts and victims’ families after tireless campaigning.


Hacked Off have been vocal supporters of Level Up’s efforts to see change in this area.


Hacked Off Director Kyle Taylor said in response:


“We welcome the fact that both IMPRESS and IPSO have indicated willingness to address the appalling coverage of fatal domestic abuse in elements of the media, but these new guidelines must be backed up with code change for them to have any meaningful effect. It is disappointing therefore that, while IMPRESS have committed to reviewing their code in this area, IPSO so far appear unwilling to take further action. We urge IPSO to seek code change immediately if they are serious about improving coverage in this area.


“As Level Up have made clear, responsible reporting about fatal domestic abuse could save lives. Hacked Off urges readers and journalists who see reporting in breach to share the guidelines and to notify Level Up when they see it. These guidelines can be a useful tool in exposing unethical media coverage – even if IPSO is unwilling to take regulatory action.”


On IPSO’s record on this area, Kyle Taylor added,


“Some IPSO members are the worst offenders when it comes to irresponsible domestic violence reporting, meaning further action from the complaints-handler is essential, yet IPSO have repeatedly prevaricated on this issue – hiding behind the argument that they do not receive many complaints regarding fatal domestic abuse. This is absurd given that often complaints cannot even be made given there is no specific code clause, while the person most closely affected by the coverage is deceased and unable to complain.


“Hacked Off will continue to work with Level Up and other campaign groups to monitor fatal domestic abuse reporting, given the failure of IPSO guidelines in other areas to make any difference at all.


“There must be robust action in the form of an enforceable Code change so that there is meaningful regulation on this life or death issue.”




For press enquiries contact: sara@hackinginquiry.org  07554 665 940



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