Honour-based abuse victims being “done a disservice” says Victims’ Commissioner

The Victims’ Commissioner says the latest police figures on honour-based abuse “shows we are doing these victims a disservice”.

Dec 17, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Dame Vera Baird QC

Dame Vera Baird QC said the data suggests “fundamental problems” with police recording of honour-based abuse when it is reported

Data supplied by forces to the Home Office and published for the first time shows there were only 2,024 offences flagged as being honour-based abuse in 2019/20, a dramatic decrease from the 5,595 honour-related offences in 2015.

Of these, there were 74 female genital mutilation (FGM) offences and 140 forced marriage offences.

Honour-based abuse includes forced marriage, which sees girls or women taken abroad to be married off to strangers, coercive control and FGM, as well as assault, threats to kill, attempted murder and murder.

“So-called honour-based crime, which often includes violence and coercion, usually takes place behind the closed doors of family homes,” said Dame Vera. “It can take huge courage for victims of this crime to come forward and seek help. It is therefore so important they have the confidence to report these crimes to the police, knowing it will be properly recorded and the appropriate action taken.

“The police data released today on honour-based abuse shows we are doing these victims a disservice.”

The Home Office said it has been collecting data from police forces on a mandatory basis since April 2019 .

It added: “The data have been published to shine a light on the level of these offences dealt with by the police and to encourage other victims to come forward and report these offences to the police. Greater Manchester Police have been unable to supply data following the implementation of a new IT system in July 2019.”

Dame Vera added: “As the Home Office makes clear, the limited scope of the data presented here likely masks the true scale of the problem. We know that the true number is likely to be much higher than these figures suggest. Not least because this does not include Greater Manchester Police – one of the largest police forces in the country. This is simply not good enough.

“We know all too well that ‘hidden harms’ are serially under-reported and this needs examining further. But this data also suggests fundamental problems with police recording of honour-based abuse when it is reported.

“More data urgently needs to be captured and published to understand this further. We also need to see research funded to understand why this crime remains under-reported and to better appreciate the barriers for victims to report compared to other hidden harms.”

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