Honour murders: surge of 60% across Britain

From The Telegraph U.K.

Police tackle more ‘honour’ cases

Police are tackling more suspicious incidents motivated by so-called ”honour” than ever before, according to new figures released today.

Published: 12:11PM GMT 07 Dec 2009

The Metropolitan Police recorded 256 incidents, of which 132 were criminal offences, in the year 2008-9.

This was a surge of 60% from the 161 incidents recorded in the previous financial year, of which 93 were criminal offences.

The latest figures revealed the upward trend is continuing with 211 incidents reported in the six months until October, of which 129 were offences.

Police define honour violence, including murder, rape and kidnap, 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 ”non-crimes”, where no offence has been committed, were also recorded, particularly where police believe the incident could be part of a wider picture.

These could include incidents in which an attempt has been made to force someone into marriage.

Detectives continue to probe the murder of mother-of-two Geeta Aulakh, 28, who was hacked to death with a sword in Greenford, north west London, last month.

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.

One of the most high-profile cases 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.

Earlier this year, police were issued with new guidance telling them to assume honour crimes have been committed in more circumstances.

Senior officers anticipated that the move would drive up figures as in many cases only limited information is available or a potential victim refuses to help police.

In London, each of the 32 boroughs has a dedicated unit staffed by officers trained to investigate all kinds of hate and domestic violence crimes.

There is also a central team reviewing all cases daily and flagging up incidents where people may be immediately at risk.

Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell, of the Metropolitan Police, said the new figures could be revealing the true extent of the problem.

He said more work is being done to collect up-to-date information about people at risk and emerging patterns.

Mr Campbell said: ”The description of this type of crime is misplaced. There is no honour in these crimes.”

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.

A Home Office spokesman said: ”Forced marriage and honour-based violence are appalling crimes and the government is working with partners across the voluntary sector to support victims.”

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