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28th October 2022

Honour Based Abuse offences rise by 6%

Our view on the government’s recent annual data return on Honour Based Abuse

Since December 2020, the Home Office has published annual policing statistics on Honour Based Abuse Offences.

The requirement to publish annual data on Honour Based Abuse arose from an HMIC inspection in 2015 which revealed that police are not sufficiently prepared to effectively protect victims of Honour Based Abuse, including forced marriage and female genital mutilation. This inspection was the first by HMIC of the police service in England and Wales to focus on Honour Based Abuse and called upon every police force to improve its understanding and response to Honour Based Abuse.

This year, data revealed that recorded Honour Based Abuse Offences (2,887) had increased by 6% when compared to the previous year (2,725). The highest number of offences were related to controlling and coercive behaviour (17%), assault with injury (14%) and without injury (14%).

The increase in recorded offences is encouraging, considering the multiple barriers that we know victims of Honour Based Abuse face. This recorded growth highlights how important it is for police to ensure that they are adequately prepared to support all victims that do come forward. Raising levels of awareness will improve the response to honour-based violence and victim confidence.

Training held with South Yorkshire Police

Whilst the mandated publication of annual data of Honour Based Abuse Offences is a positive step forward, in comparison to data in previous years only being available through protracted and lengthy Freedom of Information Requests, the annually published data is still very limited in revealing the number of people impacted.

The published data does not quantify how many victims, including children, are affected by Honour Based Abuse across England and Wales, or how many perpetrators are currently offending.  Furthermore, it does not share the criminal justice outcomes for Honour Based Abuse Offences, such as how many offences lead to a successful prosecution and/or conviction.

The Honour Based Abuse data publication evokes a mixture of emotions for Karma Nirvana. Whilst we are keen to not negate the positive step of mandated published government data, we remain concerned the published data does little to improve understanding of the problem or influence change to improve outcomes for victims.

The need for better data on Honour Based Abuse is strongly advocated in the 2015 HMIC inspection. Weak data and evidence are recognised as one of the strongest contributing factors driving the prioritisation of Honour Based Abuse down on the government agenda. Without clear, robust and meaningful data, we cannot understand the true scope, scale and prevalence of Honour Based Abuse and the Criminal Justice System’s response to both victims and perpetrators.

The national Honour Based Abuse helpline witnesses how low prioritisation of Honour Based Abuse at a government level permeates through to frontline practitioner standards, critically impacting the safety of many victims of Honour Based Abuse.

Karma Nirvana’s Honour Based Abuse Helpline

From our freedom of information request this year, we received data from 24 of the 43 police forces and know that 1,339 victims were connected to 1,423 offences. On the flip side, we also have no data evidencing the number of perpetrators relating to each offence.

The Annual Data Return also highlights that there were 1,871 HBA-related incidents that have not resulted in the recording of a notifiable crime. Sadly, the ADR fails to specify what these incidents are and again, how many victims they relate to.

We continue to champion the need for government to capture and publish clear and meaningful data on Honour Based Abuse. Data collection cannot be a ‘number game’ when it comes to understanding the victim’s experience.

We call upon the government to re-evaluate existing datasets collated on Honour Based Abuse to ensure that the next Honour Based Abuse dataset publication in 2023 is data that is making a real difference in the lives of victims and survivors.

At Karma Nirvana, we are committed to training police forces across the UK to implement appropriate risk assessments and good practices to increase confidence in identifying Honour Based Abuse and supporting victims of Honour Based Abuse. So far, we have trained 26 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales with our Honour Based Abuse Risk Assessment.

For training enquiries: [email protected]

For media enquiries: [email protected]