Police handling of so called honour-based crime

Dealing with so called honour-based offences can be extremely demanding for officers

Updated guidance for police on domestic abuse will include a section on honour-based crime, the College of Policing has said. 

The 14 July marked the first National Day of Memory for Britain’s Lost Women, which coincides with the birthday of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed who was murdered by her parents in Cheshire in 2003 for bringing what they considered to be shame on the family name.

Honour-based crime is an umbrella term for specific criminal offences which include assaults, murders, manslaughters, encouraged or assisted suicides and forced abortion.

Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, it is a criminal offence to force somebody to marry and can carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

We have published guidance on forced marriage and honour based violence and later this year there will be updated guidance for forces investigating domestic abuse, which will include honour-based crime.

Dealing with honour-based offences can be extremely demanding for officers because victims can find themselves in a dilemma of supporting officers in taking action to prevent the offence, but become isolated from their family and community.

The role of officers is to make the victim or potential victim as safe as possible, supporting whatever decision they choose to make and then pointing them to sources of support.

There are many statutory and voluntary or charitable organisations that can help. The police will also have a pivotal role in working with the CPS in those cases where prosecution follows.

Sometimes, in the most serious cases, prosecution can take place without the consent of the victim, where there is sufficient evidence and doing so is necessary to prevent serious harm.

David Tucker, the College of Policing lead for crime and criminal justice, said:

"Honour-based violence and forced marriage are very real issues that forces are facing.
“Today is a day we can pay tribute to victims of these crimes and focus on what policing is doing to tackle these issues.

"The College of Policing, as the professional body for police, is working on its programme of guidance for major investigations and public protection. Current Authorised Professional Practice for addressing honour based violence is based on CPS guidelines.
“Police officers and staff need to support victims in making decisions, take effective steps to make them safe and work with partners to ensure longer term support.

“We are continuing to do our best to equip officers and staff across all forces with the skills and knowledge they need to do their job and protect the communities they serve.

In some cases, this includes educating them on issues they perhaps haven't faced before to ensure they deal sensitively with these difficult incidents."​

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