West Midlands police recorded an increase in "honour-based" abuse offences last year, new figures show.
Karma Nirvana, a charity supporting victims of honour-based abuse, said more work needs to be done to ensure victims feel safe enough to report the abuse to police.
Police consider HBA as an incident or crime involving violence, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion or abuse which has been committed to "protect or defend the honour of an individual, family or community" for perceived breaches of the family or community’s code of behaviour.
Recent figures from the Home Office show police forces across England and Wales recorded 2,887 HBA crimes in the year to March 2022, up 6% from 2,725 the previous year.
West Midlands Police recorded 371 of these offences in 2021-22, up 5% from 352 the year prior. Police forces across the West Midlands as a whole recorded 473 offences last year.
The Home Office began collecting data from police forces on HBA offences on a mandatory basis from April 2019, with 2,024 offences recorded in the first year. Data from 2019-20 excludes Greater Manchester Police due to IT issues and does not provide a breakdown by police force. Excluding Greater Manchester Police, there has been a 25% rise in HBA offences in two years.
What have anti-honour based abuse campaigners said about the rise in offences?
Ann Bonner, Karma Nirvana analyst, said many victims suffer from more than one type of HBA at the hand of multiple perpetrators, which creates further barriers in reporting to the police.
Ms Bonner added: "We are encouraged to see a slight increase in the recording of offences involving so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse recorded by the police in England and Wales during 2021-22."
Ms Bonner said “there is still so much to be done” to encourage victims in coming forward. “A lot of the time, a lot of the victims are worried about repercussions from perpetrators and mistrust the police. They don’t feel like they are going to be believed.”
She added the charity works with police to train them in identifying HBA when they have been contacted about other crime, especially domestic abuse.
What has the Home Office said about HBA?
The Home Office said it recognised HBA is a "hidden crime" and victims can be reluctant to bring the abuse to the attention of police. "These data, therefore, are likely to only represent a small proportion of the actual HBA offences committed in year ending March 2022," it added.
Honour-based abuse can include female genital mutilation and forced marriage – in the last year, 68 HBA-related FGM offenses were logged by police across England and Wales, while 117 HBA-related forced marriage offences were recorded. Two years ago, 74 FGM offences and 140 forced marriage offences were recorded excluding Greater Manchester Police.
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