Police changes target 'honour' crimes

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The Independent Online

Hundreds more so-called honour crimes could be recorded by police under a drive to bring offenders to justice.

Officers will be issued new guidance telling them to assume such a crime has been committed in more circumstances.

This will include recording an honour crime in cases where there is only a small amount of information or even when a victim has not reported it.

Prosecutors want victims to receive better and faster protection that could save them from further violence or a forced marriage.

The new approach echoes tactics used to tackle race-hate crime following the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Nazir Afzal, CPS legal director, told the Evening Standard: "It will be about making sure we look for the signs so that we don't miss cases."

The new approach will be unveiled tomorrow at a London conference organised by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Among those due to address the event are Home Office Minister Alan Campbell and Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick.

Police have come under fire for failing the victims of honour crimes from forced marriage to rape and murder.

They define honour violence as crimes motivated by a desire to protect the honour of a family or community.

Women are the most common victims of honour violence which is linked to some interpretations of cultural and religious beliefs.

But such crimes are being increasingly linked to gay men and vulnerable people with learning difficulties.

One of the most high-profile case is that of Banaz Mahmod, of Mitcham, south London, who was murdered by family members and buried in a Birmingham garden.

Independent investigators criticised officers for failing to take her seriously after she contacted them four times to say she was in fear for her life.

In July a young Danish man of Asian origin suffered horrendous injuries when acid was poured down his throat in Leytonstone, east London.

Police believe he was targeted by a group of men because of a personal relationship with a Muslim woman.

Police chiefs published their first strategy for tackling honour-based violence last October. They recommended vulnerable people could be offered places on witness protection schemes and even a new identity.

Up to 12 people are murdered every year in the name of "honour" and police fear a further 500 people are forced into an arranged marriage or attacked.

The Forced Marriage (civil protection) Act 2007 strengthened the law on forced marriage and other forms of honour-based violence.