Victims’ Commissioner and Domestic Abuse Commissioner say “little progress” has been made since the HMICFRS Honour Based Abuse inspection recommendations in 2015 and call for a follow-up inspection.
Dame Vera Baird, QC, the Victims’ Commissioner and Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner have issued a joint letter to the Home Secretary on Honour Based Abuse and call in their letter for a follow-up inspection.
The two Commissioners write to share their joint concerns on the progress of the HMICFRS Honour Based Abuse (HBA) inspection recommendations from December 2015.
This follows the publication of Home Office data earlier in the week on the number of HBA-flagged incidences by the police, which the Victims’ Commissioner said shows police “are doing these victims a disservice”.
The two Commissioners write that “to date, little progress has been made on the recommendations arising from [the 2015] report”.
They cite a letter from the national charity Karma Nirvana in May 2019 which previously flagged these concerns. A response from the Home Office at the time indicated that Ministers were not convinced a follow-up inspection was necessary but that the Home Office would review the position in a year’s time.
The Commissioners write: “As a year has now passed since the Home Office agreed to review the position on the ‘need for HIMICFRS to hold a follow up inspection,’ we write to implore the Home Office to support the commission of a follow up inspection.”
The preliminary inspection in 2015 arose as a consequence of joint sector concerns that victims and survivors of HBA, at that time, were being failed by the police. “The majority of the inspection findings concurred with this position,” the Commissioners write.
The 2015 report explained that many forces felt “constrained in their response to HBV by deficits in national leadership, guidance and policy.”
The Commissioners write: “We commend the preliminary inspection into HBA for its honest and frank representation of a deeply concerning picture of how policing HBA across England and Wales is both inconsistent and overwhelmingly a postcode lottery.”
It is estimated that since the 2015 inspection a further 75 victims have been murdered in the name of ‘so-called’ honour in the UK. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the national HBA helpline has experienced increased call volumes by up to 264%. This is against a backdrop of declining HBA-related prosecutions, which has fallen by 43% since 2014/15, according to a Crown Prosecution Service annual VAWG report.
“The call of a second follow up inspection is essential in curtailing the regression of policing in HBA. The failure to follow up on the inspection recommendations not only undermines victim confidence to engage with police, but fundamentally exacerbates the hidden nature of HBA, thus intensifies victims’ risk and compromises victim safety,” the Commissioners write.
The letter was sent to the Home Office on 18 December.