To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the increase in so called 'honour-based' abuse crimes identified in the Home Office's Statistics on so called ‘honour-based’ abuse offences, England and Wales, 2021 to 2022, published on 20 October 2022; and what steps they are taking to reduce such crimes.
2 February 2023
So-called 'Honour’-based abuse (HBA) is a terrible form of abuse, and we are clear that we will not allow political or cultural sensitivities to get in the way of tackling it. The Home Office has, since April 2019, required police forces to collect data relating to HBA offences which they have recorded, and has published three annual data sets for these data.
Data for the year ending March 2022 showed that the police recorded 2,887 HBA-flagged offences, a 6% increase on the previous year. As with all police recorded crime figures, these data cover only offences that were reported to and recorded by the police. HBA is a hidden crime and victims can be reluctant to report to the police or other authorities. These data, therefore, are likely to represent only a small proportion of the actual HBA offences committed in the year ending March 2022.
The increase seen in recorded offences of HBA in the last year may be due to more victims coming forward to report these crimes, improvements in crime recording, including a better understanding of what constitutes HBA, and a genuine increase in these crimes.
To tackle HBA crimes, amongst other things the Government:
- in the past year, has introduced legislation to ban virginity testing and hymenoplasty throughout the UK and to expand the offence of forced marriage in England and Wales;
- committed in the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy that the College of Policing would produce new guidance on HBA for police first responders (published in December 2021) and police investigators (to be published by autumn 2022);
- in December 2022 launched an invitation to tender for a feasibility study relating to measuring the prevalence of forced marriage and female genital mutilation in England and Wales;
- through its Forced Marriage Unit, provided advice and support for 337 victims or potential victims of forced marriage, and trained 1,537 professionals, during 2021; and
is providing up to £165,000 to Karma Nirvana in 2021/22 for its national HBA helpline, which enabled Karma Nirvana to provide support for 1,833 victims between April and December 2022.