Level of 'honour' crimes shows police need more training

 

Nearly 3,000 so-called honour attacks were recorded by police in Britain last year, new research has revealed.

According to figures obtained by the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (Ikwro), at least 2,823 incidents of "honour-based" violence took place, with the highest number recorded in London.

The charity said the statistics do not give the full picture of the levels of "honour" violence in the UK , but are the best national estimate so far.

The data, taken from from 39 out of 52 UK forces, was released following a freedom of information request by Ikwro, the BBC reported.

In total, eight police forces recorded more than 100 honour-based attacks in 2010.

The Metropolitan Police saw 495 incidents, followed by 378 in the West Midlands, 350 in West Yorkshire, 227 in Lancashire and 189 in Greater Manchester.

Cleveland recorded 153, while Suffolk and Bedfordshire saw 118 and 117 respectively, according to the figures.

Between the 12 forces able to provide figures from 2009, there was an overall 47 per cent rise in honour attack incidents.

Police in Northumbria saw a 305 per cent increase from 17 incidents in 2009 to 69 in 2010, while Cambridgeshire saw a 154 per cent jump from 11 to 28.

A quarter of police forces in the UK were unable or unwilling to provide data, Ikwro said.

"This is the first time that a national estimate has been provided in relation to reporting of honour-based violence," the report concluded.

"The number of incidents is significant, particularly when we consider the high levels of abuse that victims suffer before they seek help."

"Honour" attacks are punishments usually carried out on women who have been accused of bringing shame on their family and in the past have included abductions, mutilations, beatings and murder.

Ikwro director Diana Nammi said families often deny the existence of the attacks.

"The perpetrators will be even considered as a hero within the community because he is the one defending the family and community's honour and reputation," she told the BBC.

Calling for more support for victims she added: "For some cases, police and some organisations just help them up to a length of time, then they will stop. With honour-based violence, the threat may be a lifetime threat for them."

In 2006, Banaz Mahmod, from Mitcham, south London, was strangled on the orders of her father and uncle because they thought her boyfriend was unsuitable.

Cousins Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain, both 28, were jailed last year for a minimum of 22 and 21 years respectively for the "honour killing" of the 20-year-old Iraqi Kurd.

The victim's father Mahmod Mahmod and uncle Ari Mahmod were jailed for life at the Old Bailey in 2007.

Ms Nammi told BBC Breakfast the figures were "shocking" and called for police to be better trained.

"The problem is that there is no systematic training for police and other government forces in the UK such as social services, teachers or midwives," she said.

She said that honour-based violence is an "organised or collective crime or incident" which is orchestrated by a family or within a community, adding: "It can be by a relative and sometimes on the order of community members."

Honour crimes mostly happen in South Asian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern communities, she added.

She said that "lots of things" are considered to be dishonourable including; having a boyfriend, being a victim of rape, refusing an arranged marriage, being gay or lesbian and in some cases wearing make up or inappropriate dress. PA

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