East of England

Crown Prosecution Service and NPCC launch new Honour-Based Violence/Abuse and Forced Marriage Protocol

14/12/2016

The CPS and National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) have published the first ever joint honour-based violence/abuse and forced marriage protocol today (14 December 2016), outlining their commitment to the successful investigation and prosecution of these crimes. The protocol recognises the importance of strong partnership working between these two agencies.

The protocol highlights the unique complexities of these cases and the barriers victims face in coming forward to report. An example is the potential that these crimes may not only be committed by family members but also by those who are part of the wider community.  Rather than families and communities protecting the victim, they will often protect the perpetrator. The protocol emphasises the importance for multiagency working and engagement with specialist third sector organisations.

Jenny Hopkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East of England and lead on Violence against Women and Girls said: "This protocol emphasises how important it is for the police and CPS to work together closely, from the outset, to build the strongest possible cases. These cases are complex and the safety of the victim is vital.

"So-called honour-based violence/abuse and forced marriage is increasingly being committed online, usually by victims' families, extended families and communities. We know that offenders follow a course of conduct which is used to control, coerce, dominate or exploit a victim. 

"It is important for police and prosecutors to remember that these cases may involve some of our most vulnerable victims and witnesses who may have the least confidence in the criminal justice process.

"In improving the criminal justice response to these crimes, this protocol is a key step."

The CPS has led the development of this protocol, as part of a wider commitment to improve performance in this area. The protocol enables police and prosecutors to quickly understand the action they must take when a crime is reported to the police and referred to the CPS for a charging decision, ensuring the safety of the victim is at the heart of the process.

The protocol highlights:

  • A number of offences can be committed in the context of honour-based violence/abuse and forced marriage, including common assault, GBH, harassment, kidnap, rape, threats to kill and murder. 
  • A victims family and/or members of their community may go to great lengths to discover their whereabouts once a crime has been reported. The risks to the victim from their entire family, the offenders family and the community should be considered not just the direct risk of the immediate perpetrators on the victim. 
  • Cases may involve vulnerable victims and witnesses who may have the least confidence in the criminal justice process. Victims often feel a loyalty to their family/community and this may make them particularly reluctant to support a prosecution.

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