Police must improve services regarding ‘honour’ crime issues, Criminologist’s report finds

The police force in Hertfordshire must improve their services regarding ‘honour’ crimes against black and minority ethnic (BME) women, according to a new report commissioned to improve services for priority victims.  

Posted: 26 June 2017

image for news story Police must improve services regarding ‘honour’ crime issues, Criminologist’s report finds
Professor Aisha K. Gil

The report Honour Based Violence and Abuse, Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage: Shaping Services for Priority Victims in Hertfordshire was based on research conducted from February to April 2017. It was conducted by Professor Aisha K. Gill from the University of Roehampton, Professor Pamela Cox and Ruth Weir from University of Essex with consultant input from Professor Sandra Walklate, University of Liverpool. Data was gathered from a wide range of national and local sources and including unique local geographical information system (GIS) created by the team.

Primary data was collected from interviews with ten women victims and fourteen practitioners in the field. The victims of ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation had all engaged at some level with Hertfordshire Services in recent years. The majority of the victims who reported the crimes were satisfied with the initial response, but dissatisfied with their overall experience of dealing with the police.

The report concluded that the police and supporting services must:

  • Better understand the dynamics of ‘honour’ in BME communities, particularly how it exerts psychological and physical control over victims.
  • Understand how the wider family and community may be implicated in abuse.
  • Be aware of multiple barriers which exist to reporting ‘honour’-based crimes.
  • Appreciate and act on the high level of risk facing victims who decide to approach the police.

Professor Gill said “The findings on agency gaps, honour-based violence strategy, services and challenges in Hertfordshire suggest that agencies do achieve basic levels in terms of tracking and monitoring offenders and responding to the needs of victims. To save lives, a stronger, more networked and victim-focused police response is vital. Far more needs to be done to provide effective policing to prevent harm and protect victims.”

Gill, Cox and Weir’s recommendations to protect these women better is to:

  • Increase victim’s confidence to report incidents by ensuring all community leaders have conducted safe reporting practises.
  • Commission a dedicated service to tackle ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation in county hotspot areas.
  • Improve data sharing and case management and review of the efficacy of existing risk assessment practices.
  • Coordinate cross-referrals for women affected by ‘honour’ crimes.
  • Engage stakeholders working with ‘honour’ crimes and survivors in the framing of a planned referral pathway for the county.

The report was commissioned by the UK Police Crime Commissioner of Hertfordshire, David Lloyd. Professor Gill is an established expert on ‘honour’ crimes and author in the field.

The Department of Social Sciences is rated one of the best in the UK for impact of its Social Sciences research (REF 2014).


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