The Victims' Commissioner fears the move from the Home Office set back work in the field and further hide the issue, which is already hidden, mis-identified, and under-detected.
First reported in The Independent on 6 January 2021.
The Victims’ Commissioner has reacted to news that ministers are considering dropping references to honour-based abuse in the recording of crimes such as forced marriage, coercive control and female genital mutilation. Raising concerns offences could go undetected, the Victims’ Commissioner “strongly urged” the Home Office to reconsider the move.
Dame Vera said she feared the step by the Home Office “would set work in this field back, bury even more deeply the hidden nature of Honour Based Abuse and damage victim confidence that the government understands their unique experiences.” She “strongly urged” the Home Office to reconsider the proposed move.
Under the current system, certain offences — which can also include threats to kill, assault, attempted murder, and murder — are recorded under the blanket label of honour-based abuse. Ministers are believed to want to scrap the term to avoid falsely linking such crimes to “honour”.
Campaigners fear these plans would further undermine the survivors of honour-based violence, who are often hidden.
Data supplied by police forces to the Home Office published in December 2020, show 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 back in 2015.
This prompted accusations the police have not been taking honour-based abuse seriously. At the time, Dame Vera Baird said the data “shows we are doing victims a disservice.”
The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, says:
“While I recognise that there will be good intentions behind a proposal to remove the term “honour” from honour-based violence, experience shows that its removal would further undermine the victims of this horrible abuse who are often hidden. In fact, it is almost always referred to as ‘so-called Honour Based Violence’ these days, to make the point that the claim to honour is a false one. That label remains important to help the police and others who might be called on to help to understand that they are dealing with a victim who is even more vulnerable than most domestic abuse victims and will be terrified of the consequences of asking for help.
I fear this step from the Home Office would set work in this field back, bury even more deeply the hidden nature of Honour Based Abuse and damage victim confidence that the government understands their unique experiences. I strongly urge the Home Office to reconsider.”