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A Tortoise File

Hidden Homicides

How many women are killed – but not counted?

Hidden Homicides

First published
Monday 25 January 2021

Last updated
Monday 8 February 2021

Why this story?

In the UK, we’re told that two women a week are killed by a current or former partner. But these are just the killings we know about… the true toll of domestic abuse could be far higher. In this investigation, we examine cases of killers missed, of a body left to decay in a morgue, and of systemic police failings. We reveal how poorly police forces are tracking these sudden deaths, and we ask: how is it that no one knows how many women, known to be suffering from abuse, are dying? In Hidden Homicides, we illuminate a scandal hidden from view, and we invite you to join us to push for real change. Basia Cummings, Editor


Episode 1

Hidden in plain sight

Episode 2

A killer, twice missed

Episode 3

No going back

Episode 4

Fight on



The uncounted


We count what we care about

join us

What you can do

long read

The uninvestigated

Further reading

A guide



Hidden homicides: how many murders go unreported?


Louise Tickle

Louise is an award-winning journalist who has reported extensively on domestic abuse, child protection and family courts. She was one of the team on Behind Closed Doors, the BBC1 Bafta-nominated film about how the police and criminal justice system respond to domestic assaults, which was also shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils. Her writing on domestic abuse and the treatment of victims has been published in Tortoise, the Guardian, Observer, the Times and Sunday Times. She tweets at @louisetickle

Claudia Williams

Claudia is a reporter at Tortoise. Previously she worked at the New York Times and The Week magazine.

Patricia Clarke

Patricia is a data journalist at Tortoise. She is a graduate of the MSc in Digital Journalism at Goldsmiths, and was previously Commissioning Editor at Culture Trip.

Matt Russell

Matt is a producer at Tortoise. He has worked at the BBC across a range of programmes including Newsnight and Radio 4’s World at One and PM.

Basia Cummings

Basia is an editor at Tortoise. Previously, she was news editor at HuffPost and a foreign editor at the Guardian.

Tom Kinsella

Tom is a composer working at Tortoise. He has been twice awarded the Denis Stevens Prize for music, and his compositions have been performed by the BBC Singers, The Villers Quartet and the ANIMA ensemble.

Hidden Homicides