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Police fail to gauge honour crimes

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Well-trained police officers capable of spotting victims were spread thinly across England and Wales…reports Asian Lite News

Forced marriageThe police must better understand honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation in order to provide victims with the best possible service and encourage those affected to come forward, a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said.

In the first review of police responses, HMIC  said three forces out of 43 were completely unprepared and only three were fully prepared. Well-trained officers capable of spotting victims were spread thinly across England and Wales, HMIC said.

he report, ‘The depths of dishonour: Hidden voices and shameful crimes’, examines the approach of police forces in England and Wales in relation to the protection of people from harm caused by honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation, and at supporting victims of these offences.

“When the girl been murdered, then you open a case – how does that help?
You can’t bring the girl back at that point can you? So you need to support them, but they don’t support them.”

Honour crime is the name given to offences carried out by people claiming they are protecting their cultural and religious beliefs.

The HMIC review of police preparedness examined police tactics for identifying and stopping forced marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM).

HMIC said that while there were “pockets of good practice” most forces needed to do a lot to improve. Three – Staffordshire, Thames Valley and Dyfed Powys – were found not to have passed any key tests for preparedness.

The Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police were among those that failed on tests of their ability to enforce the law.

Only three forces passed all stages of the review – West Midlands Police, Derbyshire and Northumbria.

The HMIC said that a joint operation at Heathrow Airport between the Met and border officials, designed to identify people being taken in or out of the UK for FGM or a forced marriage, had not uncovered any crimes or perpetrators.

Some forces had developed tactics for combating honour crimes from their existing strategies on domestic and child abuse, but the HMIC said forces did not have a “sound and complete understanding of the nature or magnitude of these crimes, nor how best to respond to them.”

Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of charity Karma Nirvana, which supports victims of honour crimes and forced marriages, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the way honour-based crimes were dealt with was “getting better” but more needed to be done.
“Does this [report] mean that chief constables and police and crime commissioners are going to demonstrate some leadership in making this part of the broader mainstream agenda of domestic violence?” she said.

“Because when victims are calling the helpline day in and day out, they are still not being believed. It is like a postcode lottery out there – responses are very much dependent on who you get on the day as to whether you are going to be protected or not, and that is not good enough.”

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the report showed that honour crime “remains in the shadows”.
He welcomed the report’s recommendations on better training, engagement with communities and better services for victims.