The police data on honour-based abuse "shows we are doing these victims a disservice," says Victims' Commissioner.
New data supplied by forces to the Home Office 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 has prompted accusations the police have not been taking honour-based abuse seriously.
Honour-based abuse includes forced marriage, which sees girls or women taken abroad to be married off to strangers, coercive control, and female genital mutilation (FGM), as well as assault, threats to kill, attempted murder, and murder.
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, says:
“So-called honour-based crime, which often includes violence and coercion, usually takes place behind the closed doors of family homes. 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.
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 underreported 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 underreported and to better appreciate the barriers for victims to report compared to other hidden harms.”