Last updated at 1:15 PM on 3rd December 2011
- London sees the highest number of honour crimes, with West Midlands second
- Call for more support for victims as cases rise by more than 300 per cent in some areas
- Culprits hailed ‘heroes’ in the community for carrying out the attacks
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 fail to provide 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.
In total, eight police forces recorded more than 100 so called honour-related attacks in 2010.
The Metropolitan Police saw 495 incidents, with 378 reported 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.
The report stated: ‘This is the first time that a national estimate has been provided in relation to reporting of honour-based violence.
‘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 against Muslim 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 told the BBC that families often deny the existence of the attacks.
She said: ‘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.’
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.
‘The problem is that there is no systematic training for police and other government forces in the UK, such as social services, teachers and midwives.’
She said that honour-based violence is an ‘organised or collective crime or incident’ which is orchestrated by a family or within a community.
Honour crimes mostly happen in South Asian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern communities, she added.
Ms Nammi added 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.
The association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said they were working hard to offer support to victims, and front-line staff had been specially trained to deal with complaints.
Commander Mak Chishty, lead for honour based violence, said: ‘In 2008 Acpo published a strategy which recommended consistent reporting across England and Wales. We are satisfied that this is being done.
‘We’re now in consultation on a new strategy. All frontline staff have received awareness training and every force has a champion on honour-based abuse.
‘Acpo is confident that any victim who comes to us will receive the help they need.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are determined to end honour violence and recognise the need for greater consistency on the ground to stop this indefensible practice.
‘Our action plan to end violence against women and girls sets out our approach to raise awareness, enhance training for police and prosecutors and better support victims.’
A Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) spokesman said: ‘Honour-based violence cuts across all cultures, nationalities and faith groups – it is a worldwide problem.
‘Our fundamental aims are always: to preserve life, protect those at risk, and seek to bring perpetrators to justice.
‘The MPS has been on a significant journey regarding how we police honour-based violence over the past decade, and has played an instrumental part in developing work in this field.
‘We have used our organisational learning over the years to inform our current policies, staff training and operating procedures.
‘We know that like other hate crimes, honour-based violence is under-reported however, and remain very concerned about this. We continue to work with victims’ groups, non-governmental organisations and statutory agencies to ensure that we are providing the best assistance possible to victims – they are at the heart of all we do.
The spokesman added there were specially-trained officers who carry out daily reviews of reported incidents in London.
He said: ‘The MPS has incorporated honour-based violence and forced marriage into its mandatory domestic violence training for all constables, sergeants and inspectors; there has also been specific training for PCSOs and senior officers, and regular training sessions for other specialist officers such as schools officers and Safer Neighbourhoods’ Teams.’
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.