The Dark Figure of Infanticide in England and Wales: Complexities of Diagnosis

Fiona Brookman, Jane Nolan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Infants aged younger than 12 months have the highest homicide victimization rate of any single age group in England and Wales. In addition, there are good grounds for believing that the official homicide statistics for this particular age group are an underestimate and subject to distortion. At the same time there is evidence mounting in the United Kingdom that some parents have been incorrectly convicted of infanticide. This article first explores all recorded cases of infanticide in England and Wales for the period 1995-2002 (298 cases in total). Characteristics of the offenders, victims, offense, and court outcomes are examined. The second part of the article takes a critical gaze at the complexities involved in distinguishing infanticide from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sudden unexplained deaths in infancy (SUDI). The article ends by considering in what ways infant deaths might be more effectively investigated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)869-889
    JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2006


    • infanticide
    • sudden infant death syndrome
    • dark figure
    • misdiagnoses of infant death
    • infant death investigations


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