Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage
- Definition of Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage
- Gender and the CPS Violence against Women Strategy
- Identifictation and Flagging
- Social and Cultural Context
- Case Building
- Expert Witnesses
- Support and Safety of Victims and Witnesses
- Legal Remedies
- Forced Marriage Unit
- Annex A
- Annex B
- Annex C
- Annex D
The Crown Prosecution Service is committed to fairly and effectively prosecuting those who are found to harm others in the name of honour. This commitment is embedded in the CPS Violence against Women strategy. This Legal Guidance is designed to assist specialist CPS prosecutors in cases of honour based violence including crimes associated with forced marriage.
Crimes connected with forced marriage and honour based violence often occur in a domestic setting. These crimes are usually perpetrated by male family members against women within their own family network. As such, honour based violence and forced marriage are also considered within our policy for prosecuting cases of domestic violence. Prosecutors should apply the Domestic Violence Policy and accompanying Guidance when considering these cases.
The experience that we have in prosecuting cases of domestic violence is directly applicable to prosecuting forced marriage and honour based violence crimes. It can greatly inform how prosecutors use the most effective and appropriate procedures when dealing with these cases. This guidance must also be read in conjunction with the CPS Flagging Guidance for cases of honour based violence. The flagging guidance will assist prosecutors once they begin to flag cases in the COMPASS Case Management System (CMS). National flagging of cases of honour based violence and forced marriage began in April 2010.
Honour based violence is a cultural phenomenon and can affect any community. Cases involving honour based violence can be very difficult to prosecute and high risk, and because of their nature require sensitive and careful handling, especially with regard to victim care and support. The provision of accurate and up-to-date information to the victim throughout the life of the case, together with quality support and careful consideration of any special measures requirements are all important factors for the CPS to consider.
It is important that we work closely with the police and other agencies to ensure that the best evidence is gathered and presented to the court. A strong, coordinated prosecution team is required to proactively build and manage a case. It is also essential that we liaise with Witness Care Units (WCU) and voluntary sector support organisations to ensure that the victims safety and support needs are addressed throughout the life of a case.
Detailed multi-agency guidance has been produced to supplement statutory guidance - The Right to Choose (Issued under section 63 Q (1) Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 by the Home Office). This guidance provides advice and support to front line practitioners who deal with such cases.
More information can be found at:
There are no specific offences of "honour based crimes" or "forced marriage". Forced marriage and honour based crimes are umbrella terms to encompass various offences already covered by existing legislation. Both are a violation of human rights and may be a form of domestic and/or sexual violence.
There has been considerable debate among practitioners and academics about the nature of honour based violence. Indeed, the use of the term honour in relation to violence perpetrated in this way is contentious. There is not and cannot be any honour or justification for the abuse of human rights of others. However, throughout this guidance the term "honour based violence" has been used to frame the various forms of violence that take place because of notions of so-called honour and in line with the terminology used by academics, statutory and non-statutory agencies worldwide in relation to such violence.
The CPS and ACPO have a common definition of honour based violence:
"Honour based violence" is a crime or incident, which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community'.
This definition is supported by further explanatory text:
"Honour Based Violence" is a fundamental abuse of Human Rights.
There is no honour in the commission of murder, rape, kidnap and the many other acts, behaviour and conduct which make up "violence in the name of so-called honour".
The simplicity of the above definition is not intended in any way to minimise the levels of violence, harm and hurt caused by the perpetration of such acts.
It is a collection of practices, which are used to control behaviour within families or other social groups to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Such violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and / or community by breaking their honour code.
Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims of 'so called honour based violence', which is used to assert male power in order to control female autonomy and sexuality.
"Honour Based Violence" can be distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or community members.
Examples may include murder, un-explained death (suicide), fear of or actual forced marriage, controlling sexual activity, domestic abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse), child abuse, rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, threats to kill, assault, harassment, forced abortion. This list is not exhaustive.
Such crimes cut across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities. They transcend national and international boundaries.
Notions of honour have always existed in our societies. In this context, these notions framed within culture, religion or the need to preserve identity, are used as a vehicle for justifying mainly male violence against women, children and sometimes other men. Ultimately, this is rooted in a patriarchal position which establishes clearly defined gender roles and where women are seen as objects and/or property. They are therefore expected to conform to a prescribed set of appropriate behaviours. This patriarchal position may be supported by varying degrees of social collusion and approval.
Honour based violence may also be referred to by other agencies as "honour crime". There are also a range of culturally specific words or phases which may be used to refer to honour and are therefore linked to honour based violence. The actions associated with the preservation of this "honour" include a variety of violent crimes carried out predominantly, but not exclusively, against women (men usually become victims when they are accused or suspected of bringing a womans reputation into disrepute). They can include assault, imprisonment and murder. The victim is being punished for allegedly undermining what the family or community believes is the correct code of behaviour. In purportedly transgressing this code of behaviour, the victim illustrates that they will not be controlled or conform to their family or communities wishes and this is to the "shame" or "dishonour" of the family or community.
This quote from Honour: Crimes, Paradigms and Violence against Women eidited by Welchman, Lynn and Hossain, Zed Books (London) succinctly confirms:
The term crimes of honour encompasses a variety of manifestations of violence against women; including murder termed honour killings, assault, confinement or imprisonment and interference with choice in marriage where the publicly articulated justification is attributed to a social order claimed to require the preservation of a concept of honour vested in male family and or conjugal control over women and specifically womens sexual conduct-actual or suspected or potential.
We are seeking to flag any criminal offence of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional- as in the domestic violence definition) committed as honour based crime. Cases will be prosecuted under the specific offence committed e.g. common assault, inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm, harassment, kidnap, rape, threats to kill, murder. These crimes should be identified as honour crimes on CMS as well as by their named offence(s).
Additionally, honour based crimes could include:
- Attempted murder;
- Procuring an abortion;
- Encouraging or assisting suicide;
- Conspiracy to murder;
- Conspiracy to commit a variety of assaults.
The definition of forced marriage that the CPS use is the definition adopted by the Government and ACPO. Forced marriage as set out in A Choice by Right published by HM Government in June 2000:
Is a marriage conducted without the valid consent of one or both parties where duress is a factor.
This is further expanded upon in multi-agency practice Guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage (HM Government 2008):
"A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or both spouses do not (or in the case of some adults with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and duress is involved. Duress can include physical, psychological, financial, sexual and emotional pressure."
Forced marriage is a violation of human rights and is contrary to UK law, including the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, which states that a marriage shall be voidable if:
"either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence of duress, mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise."
An arranged marriage is very different from a forced marriage.
In an arranged marriage, both parties enter into the marriage freely. Families of each spouse take a leading role in arranging the marriage and this usually includes the choice of partner. However, the choice of whether or not to accept the arrangements remains with the prospective spouses. In forced marriage, one or both spouses do not (and in the case of some adults with support needs, cannot) consent to the marriage, and duress is involved. Duress can take the form of overt behaviour, for example assault, or more subjective factors which may depend on the victims perception of the situation. This can include the applying of subtle pressures such as a sense of duty and emotional blackmail (e.g. threats to disown or ostracise the victim; accusations of bringing disgrace and dishonour onto the family or community); sexual or financial pressure.
Consent is essential to all marriages in all religions. Only a spouse will know if consent is given freely. If the prospective spouse has been placed under familial pressure to marry, then consent is not given freely and therefore it is a forced marriage.
We in the CPS are seeking to flag any criminal offence of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) that has been carried out in the context of a forced marriage either:
(i) to coerce a party/parties into marrying without their consent, which would be prosecuted under the specific offence committed e.g. harassment, kidnap, threats to kill; or
(ii) after a forced marriage (without the consent of one or both parties and where duress is a factor), which would be prosecuted under a specific offence e.g. rape, sexual assault.
If these crimes were committed in forcing or having forced someone to marry, they should be identified as forced marriage on CMS as well as by their named offence(s).
Forced marriage situations could involve, for example, the specific offences of:
- False imprisonment;
- Common assault, actual/grievous bodily harm;
- Threats to kill;
- Child abduction;
- Rape or other sexual offences;
- Immigration offences;
- Marriage offences;
- People trafficking; and
- Controlling, causing or inciting prostitution.
Annex A (Guidelines for Police Officers Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriages) provides a list of indicators to help the police identify forced marriage cases.
The term "victim" may be perceived negatively by some. The term "survivor" is considered to be more empowering for adults and children and, as such, is the preferred terminology for some of our partner agencies.However, our guidance reflects the CPS' role in honour based violence cases and so the term "victim" (victim of a crime, victim of an offence) is used.
For similar reasons, this guidance refers mainly to a "defendant" rather than to an "abuser" or "perpetrator".
In this document, all references to "men" should be read to include "boys" and all references to "women" should be read to include "girls".
The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 provides for three types of applicant who may apply for a forced marriage protection order (see elsewhere in this Guidance). They are the victim; anyone on their behalf with the permission of the court; and a relevant third party. A 'relevant third party' may apply on behalf of a victim and does not require the leave of the court. The Lord Chancellor designated local authorities as relevant third parties on 1 November 2009.
The Children Act 1989 introduced the concept of 'significant harm' as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children and young people. It gives local authorities a duty to make enquiries to decide whether they should take action to safeguard or promote the welfare of a child who is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm. ('Working Together to Safeguard Children': HM Government 2006 and 'Safeguarding Children: Working Together Under the Children Act 2004': Welsh Assembly Government -WAG).This was amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 to include, "impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another".
The Violence against Women Strategy provides an overarching framework for crimes that have been identified as primarily, although not exclusively, being committed by men, against women, within a context of power and control.
Honour based violence including forced marriage cases should therefore be addressed within an overall framework of violence against women and an overall human rights framework. Where appropriate, prosecutors should make links with other topics such as domestic violence, rape and sexual offences, child abuse, crimes against the older person, pornography, human trafficking, prostitution, and female genital mutilation.
Prosecutors should be aware, when dealing with a case of honour based violence including forced marriage, that the victim might not just be a victim of honour based violence. The victim may have been subjected to rape and other sexual offences and could be under 18. The victim would accordingly be a victim of child abuse. Prosecutors should recognise the connections and links between crimes of violence against women in terms of both defendants and victims.
Prosecutors should recognise the diversity of victims. Victims experiences of honour based violence are undoubtedly affected by identities distinct from gender, like their ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability, immigration status, and religion or belief. Each victims individual experiences of violence will be different, and some victims may encounter additional barriers to accessing justice. For example, a young woman forced into marriage may find it difficult to report domestic violence because she fears she will not be taken seriously because of her age. The safety and needs of each victim should be assessed on an individual basis.
Links to other relevant policies:
Accurately identifying an incidence of forced marriage was one of the key suggestions of HM Government's 'A Choice by Right' report published in 2001 which can be found at:
A key recommendation which arose out of the report on the CPS pilot project on forced marriage and so called honour based crime noted that identifying the scale of the problem is essential if services are:
- to be underpinned by an evidence base;
- to be tailored to the needs of the communities being served;
- to be sensitive and appropriate; and are to be developed in line with identified and/or emerging trends and patterns.
By identifying the scale of honour based violence we will be able to allocate resources appropriately, target interventions and deploy resources more effectively.
This Guidance should be read in conjunction with the Guidance on Identifying and Flagging Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence cases. Flagging of such cases has been rolled-out nationally since April 2010.
It is important to recognise that distorted perceptions of marginalised communities has often rendered them less credible in certain contexts, particularly with respect to the criminal justice system. Sensitivity is therefore required in addressing this issue to reflect an understanding of how a victims social identity may impact on her/his perception of:
- her/his experience of violence;
- the perpetrator(s);
- her / his family, community or wider society;
- the context in which the violence occurs;
- her/his right to seek help; and
- the availability of appropriate support.
Para 1.14 of the CPS Policy for Prosecuting cases of Domestic Violence explains:
People from Black and minority ethnic communities may have experienced racism from the criminal justice system. They may fear that they will not be believed, or that they will not be treated properly. As a result, they may be reluctant to report offences or support a prosecution. In particular, a number of women may feel that they are unable to leave their abuser because they could be financially dependant; unable to speak or understand English; or their immigration status in the UK may be unclear. Cultural and religious beliefs may also deter people from reporting offences or supporting a prosecution.
However, sensitivity should also include addressing the offences as they are and not treating them any less, or more, seriously because of social identity. It is the responsibility of the CJS to respond to the victims experience of violence. While the context in which the violence has occurred in is indeed relevant, it is important that victims do not perceive that it is their culture, religion or community that is under scrutiny but rather the crime(s) that has / have been committed against them.
We have learnt that notions of honour and shame have been associated with a range of communities and it is important to understand that all societies at various points grapple with this issue. It is currently understood that within a UK context honour-based violence and forced marriage disproportionately affect Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee women and young people. This includes, but is not limited to, Latin American, Traveller, African, South Asian, South-East Asian, Middle-Eastern, Turkish, Kurdish and Caribbean communities. The term communities should not be read as an exclusive reference to newly or recently arrived individuals.
In many cases, honour based violence and forced marriage will affect victims who are second or third generation members of an established community and therefore are British with respect to their status, their self-perception and their value base. In addition, references to communities must not be used to further homogenise and marginalise individuals and communities.
It is also important to note that an insistence of framing honour based violence within traditional practices does not take into account the evolving nature of these crimes. For example, new versions of violence against women in the name of honour exist within the context of serious youth violence where young women face alarming levels of violence for supposedly bringing disrespect to their gang-involved boyfriends, brothers and extended family members; alternatively, they find themselves being harmed to teach a lesson to someone else where rival gang members are at war.
It is important to recognise that victims may experience multiple disadvantages and that this may have the effect of increasing vulnerability.
- Some Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people may face actual or threatened forced marriage and the potential for other forms of honour based violence as a result of how their sexuality or gender identity is perceived within their family or community. There is an increasing body of evidence to support the fact that LGBT people from within affected communities are being forced into marriage to cure their sexuality or address their gender issues. This may also include honour based practices such as corrective rape.
- As with any VAW issue, disability or illness may add to a young persons, or an adults, vulnerability and may make it more difficult for them to report abuse or to leave an abusive situation. Their care needs may make them entirely dependent on their carers.
It is important to recognise that a victim of honour based violence or forced marriage may not come forward because he/she may fear further acts of harassment or violence. This violence may be committed by or against members of an extended family, social or community network or the wider community. This is particularly relevant if it is the victim's conduct that is regarded as the cause of the shame and dishonour.
However, the victim may also be unwilling to come forward because of her acceptance of the value system she is living in. The victim may feel responsible, believing that they have brought dishonour to the family by their substantive infraction of honour codes and that the further reporting of any retributive acts by family members may only compound the dishonour.
Bereavement within a family can be a factor that increases the risk of someone being forced into marriage. Occasionally, when a parent dies, particularly the father, the remaining parent may feel there is more of an urgency to ensure that the children are married.
A similar situation may arise within single parent households or when a step-parent moves in with the family. Sometimes, when an older child (particularly a daughter) refuses to marry, the younger female siblings are forced to marry in order to protect the family honour or to fulfil the original contract.
A refusal to marry may also cause other forms of honour based violence to be perpetrated on other siblings.
In some contexts, a victim of sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault may be perceived as carrying shame or bringing shame and dishonour on to the family, despite being the victim.
In such situations a marriage may be forced in order to 'restore honour'. In some situations it is believed that a marriage will stop the abuse. It should also be noted that victims of sexual violence may face further risk of violence in the name of honour i.e. she may be punished for having brought shame and dishonour on to the family or community.
It is important to note that across cultures and communities, the fear of shame and stigma associated with being a victim of sexual violence is a consistent phenomenon. This fear is likely to be compounded where there is any degree of victim blaming. As a result many women and girls are further silenced.
Practitioners should be mindful of any factors which may further compound the issue of victim blaming. This can be especially relevant if a victim has already stepped outside of acceptable norms.
Examples include, but are not limited to, young women dating cross-culturally, young women who may themselves have a history of offending, young women experiencing 'gang' rape, young women being assaulted by multiple perpetrators after agreeing to have sex with one person as well as situations where the victim is concerned about any kind of reprisal activity that may be related to 'protecting her honour' or punishing her for disclosing.
For those in fear of forced marriage or honour based violence, isolation can be one of the biggest problems. They may not feel there is anyone they can trust to keep this secret from their family and they have no one to speak to about their situation. These feelings of isolation are very similar to those experienced by victims of other forms of domestic abuse and child abuse. Only rarely will someone disclose fear of forced marriage. Therefore, they will often come to the attention of practitioners for behaviour consistent with distress rather than for the problem that is at the crux of the matter.
Additionally, for an adult with support needs it may be more difficult for them to report abuse or to leave an abusive situation. Their care needs may make them entirely dependant on their carers who may be the perpetrators of abuse.
The effects of forced marriage and other forms of honour based crimes on children cannot be underestimated. Young victims may find themselves in an abusive and dangerous situation against their will with no power to seek help. Forced marriage can be a form of child abuse and domestic violence and should be treated as such. Many victims of reported honour based violence and forced marriage in the UK are under 18 years old. It is highly likely that there is significant under-reporting. In 2008, 39% of cases dealt with by the Home Office Forced Marriage Unit involved minors, and 14% of those cases involved a person under 16.
Findings from a Metropolitan Police Service strategic problem profile on forced marriage indicated those victims between the ages of 16 and 20 years were most at risk of forced marriage, whereas the fear of forced marriage predominantly affected those under the age of 18. The majority of victims that the Forced Marriage Unit deals with range form 15 to 24 although they have had enquiries form a girl as young as 9 years old.
As with adults, honour based violence manifests itself in a diverse range of ways with children and young people including forced marriage, rape, physical assaults, kidnap, threats of violence (including murder), female genital mutilation or witnessing violence directed towards a sibling or indeed another family member. Female genital mutilation, is an offence contrary to the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, and can result in severe physical and psychological injuries and even death. It is almost always restricted to female children and young people i.e. those under 18 years old.
The involvement of parents and/or siblings as defendants in these practices leaves young victims with very few options in terms of long-term safety. The decision to leave and/or support the authorities in prosecuting relatives is an extremely difficult one.
Parents who force their children to marry may justify their behaviour as being in the childs interests or necessary to protect their children, build stronger families and preserve cultural or religious traditions. The impact on the potential victim is often either not understood or minimised in the interests of maintaining the family honour. Some conservative interpretations of religious belief may be used to justify forced marriage, but more liberal traditions in every major faith condemn it and state that freely given consent is a prerequisite. Often parents believe that they are upholding the cultural traditions of their home country when in fact, practices and values there may have changed.
Some of the key motives that have been identified in the Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage (June 2009) are:
- controlling unwanted behaviour and sexuality (including perceived promiscuity, or being LGBT) - particularly the behaviour and sexuality of women,
- controlling unwanted behaviour, for example, alcohol and drug use, wearing make-up or behaving in what is perceived to be a westernised manner;
- preventing unsuitable relationships, e.g. outside the ethnic, cultural, religious or caste group;
- protecting family honour or izzat;
- responding to peer group or family pressure;
- attempting to strengthen family links;
- achieving financial gain;
- ensuring land, property and wealth remain within the family;
- protecting perceived cultural ideals;
- protecting perceived religious ideals which are misguided;
- ensuring care for a child or adult with special needs when parents or existing carers are unable to fulfil that role;
- assisting claims for UK residence and citizenship; and
- long-standing family commitments.
While it is important to have an understanding of the motives that drive parents to force their children to marry, these motives should not be accepted as justification for denying them the right to choose a marriage partner and enter freely into marriage. Forced marriage is a violation of childrens rights as well as a form of violence against women and an abuse of human rights under UN human rights conventions. See, for instance, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Young people, particularly girls, forced to marry or those who may be forced to marry, are frequently withdrawn from education, restricting their educational and personal development. They may feel unable to go against the wishes of their parents and be threatened with disownment if they do consequently they may suffer emotionally, often leading to depression and self-harm. These factors can contribute to impaired social development, limited career and educational opportunities, financial dependence and lifestyle restrictions.
Studies have shown that self-harm and suicide are significantly higher among South Asian women than other groups and contributory factors include lack of self-determination, excessive control, weight of expectations of the role of women and anxiety about their marriages. Some usual background information can be found in Self harm in British South Asian: psychosocial correlates and strategies for prevention - Hussain M, Waheed W, Hussain N: Annnals of General Psychiatry 2006.
Honour based violence is clearly a child protection matter. Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) have strategic responsibility for developing policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in their area. The key theme throughout the strategy is effective joined up partnership working.
More information about safeguarding children can be found here.
Prosecutors are well aware of the usual routes that the police follow in order to obtain evidence in relation to the types of crimes that might be motivated by forced marriage or honour based violence crimes. However, additional challenges arise with regard to victim confidence, witness corroboration and the familial setting of most such allegations, as well as jurisdiction as some cases may have an international dimension. It is evident from recent prosecutions that many of these crimes are extremely well organised, planned by more than one individual and may have been instigated by others. There is clear evidence, from cases throughout the UK, that crimes are premeditated with multiple offenders being involved, which include family, extended family and community members in the UK and overseas. The conspiratorial nature of such crimes requires consideration of whether it is necessary and justified to utilise the tools that are most effective against organised crime e.g. covert intelligence techniques.
The findings from the CPS pilot on forced marriage and so-called honour crime were published in December 2008. These indicated that it was not unusual for more than one defendant to be involved in committing the offence or offences. For example, in 8 of the 20 case files identified in the pilot, more than one defendant was involved in the same incident (or set of offences). Similarly, in 9 of the 20 cases identified, offences were committed against more than one victim.
In a number of high profile honour based violence cases, at least three people were involved in the actual commission of the murder and were involved either in the preparation, its encouragement or its cover up. It is not unusual for the youngest member of the family to be the most heavily implicated. Prosecutors should be alive to the fact that those who commit honour based violence killings often choose the youngest member of the family to carry out the act in the expectation that they will receive the most lenient sentence. This should not preclude us from seeking to bring to justice all of those who are involved in the planning and execution of the crime.
Early consultation between police and specialist prosecutors is essential. ACPO Strategic Guidance can be found here.
During the investigation of these offences, police will need to be aware that they may inadvertently help endanger the victim by seeking to discuss and liaise with other members of the family and community. The investigation will seek to maintain a balance between seeking to secure the support of the wider communities whilst at the same time securing the safety of the victim. The victims safety is paramount however.
There are also reported instances where a false crime has been alleged by the members of the family in order for the police to expend resources locating the victim, thereby inadvertently delivering and returning that person to the environment from which they had escaped.
It may be necessary to use covert intelligence techniques to bolster the evidence against those not directly involved in the murder. Prosecutors must give thought as to whether or not this approach is appropriate and ensure that early conferences take place with the police to facilitate this course of action where necessary. Our experience has shown that police investigators might need to be guided from an early stage to pursue covert intelligence techniques. Prosecutors are therefore advised to read the relevant CPS Guidance.
Again, our experience has shown that it might be some years after the murder or disappearance before this technique bears fruit. For example, loyalties within a family may change over time, thereby enabling the police and CPS to build a case which was not possible at the outset.
Police officers and prosecutors must be conscious of the need to consider other covert intelligence techniques including the use of covert human intelligence sources, given that Metropolitan Police Service research has shown that contract killers sometimes carry out honour-based killings and that other honour-based offences are perpetrated by professional criminals.
Again, given the organised nature of much of this crime, we may need to give thought to public appeals for information in an attempt to reassure witnesses that they will be taken seriously. Police officers have been known to use the offer of a reward to attract some witnesses and this has been, on occasion, linked to the use of covert techniques in the hope and expectation that those suspected of the crime are more likely to talk about the crime if they are prompted by public discussion. In some cases, public appeals can be done in conjunction with trusted voluntary sector agencies in order to encourage more members of the community to come forward with information.
Some witnesses will require the following, in addition to the usual special measures considered:
- the full protection afforded by witness protection schemes;
- voice distortion;
- a multi-agency risk conference (MARAC). These need to be on-going and not finish with the conclusion of the case. Care should be taken to ensure full confidentiality is maintained by participating agencies, and that extra precautions are be taken with regard to information sharing in honour based violence cases which involve extended family and community networks;
- additional support from Witness Care Units;
- pre-trial court visits;
- referral to specialist agencies;
- the taking of Victim Personal Statements;
- interpreters; and
- support with travel to court and childcare during court visits.
More information about risk can be found at:
The victim and witnesses can be at risk for the rest of their lives. Whatever measures are sought, further protection may need to be in place for a considerable length of time. Some witnesses and complainants will remain in fear for the rest of their lives regardless of whether or not those suspected of the crimes are convicted and sentenced. There is further guidance on this at refer to section 10 - Support and Safety of Victims and Witnesses.
The Code for Crown Prosecutors must be applied to all cases, irrespective of the sensitivity of the case under consideration. There must be sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and it must be in the public interest to proceed with the case. The CPS now has responsibility for charging all but the most minor of cases under the statutory charging regime. Once a case has passed the threshold test, prosecutors should be proactive in working with the police to identify lines of enquiry, opportunities for effective evidence gathering and rectifying evidential deficiencies. In cases of forced marriage or honour based violence, the prosecution team may have to consider using investigative techniques more commonly used for cases involving serious organised crime. Decisions will need to be made expeditiously and the prosecution team will need to work together very closely.
Having regard to the Code, where there is sufficient evidence, it will usually be in the public interest for a prosecution to proceed.
It is evident from studying a number of cases that those who perpetrate these types of crimes both in this jurisdiction and abroad are keen to use the youngest member of the family to carry out harmful acts. This may be to attempt to deflect attention away from those who have conspired in the criminal act. Prosecutors need to consider whether it is necessary to prove the age of the defendant. In some cases, defendants have sought to prove that they are under 18 when they are not. A variety of methods can be explored to obtain confirmation of the age. These include:
- where a person of migrant status has been involved in the commission of these crimes, there have been instances where the identity given is questionable. A variety of enquiries may need to be undertaken by investigators to satisfy themselves as to the identity and immigration status of the individuals concerned. More assistance in this area can be found in the Youth Offenders Legal Guidance.
- prosecutors and investigators can be assisted by enquiries in other jurisdictions either through the mutual legal assistance route or more informally through police-to-police contacts; and
- if such contacts are used, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has designated a number of police officers as ambassadors to other jurisdictions. These individuals have contacts within those jurisdictions, which can facilitate expeditious enquiries. Prosecutors and investigators can access this list on request from ACPO by emailing through their contacts page at:
Prosecutors should be aware of the disclosure issues that may arise in these prosecutions. Disclosure issues should be addressed at an early stage, especially where third party material may need to be considered. Investigations involving covert human intelligence sources and international cooperation will require particularly careful consideration, as will cases where victims or witnesses are in need of emotional support and counselling.
For further guidance refer to Disclosure Guidance.
Many successful prosecutions and investigations have been supported by the provision of expert evidence from those who have an understanding not only of honour based crimes and forced marriage but specifically about the communities within which they commonly occur. Juries and magistrates can be assisted by the provision of expert evidence in areas with which they are not familiar.
Expert evidence may be necessary as rebuttal evidence when defences are raised in which an attempt is made to justify the commission of the offence in the name of honour or as a respectable cultural practice.
One concern is the relatively small number of experts available to give evidence and the parochial nature of some of these experts. That is because an expert that can speak about Punjabi culture for example does not make them an expert on India.
Please refer to the CPS Guidance for Expert Witnesses booklet for full information regarding the duties and obligations of all expert witnesses. Where appropriate, experts may need to be referred to the self-certification guidance at the back of the booklet.
Prosecutors should make contact with the Forced Marriage Unit and the voluntary sector (particularly the specialist womens organisations as outlined in Annex B) to identify experts with regard to specific parts of the world and/or tribalistic customs. Consideration should also be given to the use of academics with specialised knowledge of forced marriage and/or so-called honour crimes; specialist voluntary agencies; specialised counsellors; specialist refuge workers or specialist police officers.
The need to access expertise when developing an investigation and a prosecution cannot be over-emphasised. Neither can the importance of the jury receiving this evidence in reliable and admissible form.
The police senior investigating officer (SIO) in an honour based violence case has responsibility and accountability for ensuring that effective risk assessment, identification and management processes have been undertaken. In short, this means ensuring that a risk management plan, with proportionate and effective control measures, has been developed. These products are driven by information and intelligence.
Further information about the development and rollout of a new risk assessment tool DASH (which includes Domestic Abuse Stalking and Honour based violence) can be found at:
Prosecutors must also be aware that CPS prosecution team is also part of the risk management process/plan. For example careful consideration must be given to when particular witnesses are being called to give evidence, if there is an early application for special measures, how the witness will travel to and from court, whether there is an overlap with the movement of any other witnesses that day and separate waiting rooms (different witnesses from the same family may have conflicting interests etc). The prosecution team must work in an effective and productive partnership with the SIO to achieve the risk management strategic objectives.
The protection and care of victims was recognised as pivotal in the recommendations arising out of the CPS Forced marriage and Honour based violence pilots. The pilot report indicated victim and witness difficulties were responsible for the majority of unsuccessful outcomes in this pilot, indicating a need to ensure specific support systems for victims. Article 2 - 'the right to life' confirms:
'Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.'
This confirms that deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
- in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
- in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
- in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.
For further information, please refer to Legal Guidance on Human Rights.
Police officers have power under section 17(1)(e) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) to enter and search any premises in order to protect life or limb. Police officers can also prevent a child or young person's removal person's removal from a hospital or other safe place in which the child or young person is accommodated. The parents may ask for contact with the child or young person, but this does not have to be granted if it is not in the childs best interests, for example, if it would place the child or young person in danger.
The local Police Child Protection Officer must be informed of any child under police protection. A child or young person may wish to see a police officer of the same gender. They may, or may not, want to see a police officer from their own community - the victim should be given a choice. In all cases, Prosecutors should ensure that police have checked the Child Protection Register.
It may well be that police and/or prosecutors are placed under pressure from relatives and community and religious leaders or elders, including councillors and MPs, to say where the child or young person has gone. Prosecutors must not divulge this information. There may also be pressure to discontinue an investigation or prosecution in order to be 'culturally or religiously sensitive'. The police and/or prosecution should ensure that abuse, regardless of the cultural or religious context, is actively investigated and prosecuted. There may also be pressure on the victim to withdraw their allegations and reconcile with the family through mediation via community elders or religious courts/arbitration. These 'alternative dispute resolution' community based mechanisms are dangerous as they return victims to abusive situations at home. The victims should be encouraged and supported to use civil and criminal justice remedies instead to maximise their protection.
Prosecutors need to be fully up to speed with policies in relation to victim and witness care. Victims and witnesses in such cases are some of the most vulnerable and often have the least confidence in criminal justice. They may also need support mechanisms throughout the rest of their lives and not just during the prosecution process.
Where child victims or witnesses are in local authority care, or under court orders, consideration should be given to both the children and the carers. Parental responsibility must be established and in cases where the local authority has been granted parental responsibility by the court order a consultation should be made with the local authority in question. Consent for the child to give evidence must also be sought. Care should be taken in making any disclosure to the relevant local authority, in relation to the evidence being given.
It should be borne in mind that often parents are the perpetrators of crimes against children and where this is the case they may well be in touch with the local authority as well as the child (i.e. supervised visits), therefore extra care in disclosure is a necessity.
In cases where the child is in foster care, carers should also be part of the process of consultation. It should be remembered that the local authority could well be acting in a supportive role for the child in several aspects of its life and may well be best placed to act as victim support for the child in any court proceedings. As with all childcare issues the welfare of the child is paramount.
Recent research has shown that a significant number of victims of forced marriage and so-called honour crimes suffer from disabilities both of a physical or a mental nature. Some, it would appear, are used by the offenders for immigration purposes to facilitate the entry to the United Kingdom of an individual for marriage. We therefore need to be alive to issues with regard to complainants with support needs and also linking in additional policies with regard to disability hate crimes and immigration crime. For further information refer to Disability Hate Crime Policy and Immigation Policy.
Prosecutors and Witness Care Units need to know what support agencies are available within their local area, nationally and internationally. Many victims' groups have decades of experience of working with victims of honour based crimes and forced marriage. They are extremely well placed to advise prosecutors on the steps that need to be taken either to elicit information, to support an investigation and prosecution, to encourage others to come forward, to provide support to victims and witnesses and provide expert evidence.
Many of these agencies are non-governmental and voluntary agencies. The groups which have particular expertise are specialist secular black and minority ethnic womens organisations which have a track record in providing services on domestic and sexual violence, forced marriage and honour crimes. Prosecutors are encouraged to be open (with confidentiality agreements in place) and to share progress and obstacles. A list of support organisations can be found at Annex B. However, prosecutors need to be aware that in a close knit community, who they speak to about the case needs itself to be risk assessed, and that information should only be shared with trusted agencies.
The difficulties and trauma associated with honour based violence are exacerbated by language difficulties. Language difficulties pose particular barriers in accessing legal, social, medical and support services. This presents additional challenges for those responding to the various manifestations of so-called honour crimes. Individuals who are victims of so-called honour crimes are not a homogenous group. Their needs may vary and be influenced by a range of cultural barriers, level of education, length of residence, level of English fluency, family and social network and economic independence.
Experience has led us to be concerned about interpreters and translators who are not on the approved list and may often be part of the family, community, or linked to the group suspected of carrying out the crime. Interpreters must have an understanding of the culture of the linguistic community they are interpreting for. Guidance on the use of interpreters can be found here.
The Forced Marriage Unit Guidance and Police Guidance also help in adopting a consistent approach across agencies. Please see Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage.
The joint Home Office-Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit is well placed to provide advice and assistance. Prosecutors should be confident that other agencies, particularly in the voluntary sector, can provide valuable assistance. Further information about the Forced Marriage Unit can be found below.
Victims with an insecure immigration status are particularly vulnerable as their rights to settlement or public funds, such as social security benefits and public housing, may be limited. They may be reluctant to come forward to seek help as they may fear deportation and/or destitution. Some stay in, or return to, abusive relationships, as they fear removal to their country of origin and the risk of further abuse, harassment and acts of violence. In some cultures, separated or divorce women are ostracised and harassed for bringing shame and dishonour on their families and communities.
In some circumstances, victims may be allowed to remain in the UK if they can show they have experienced domestic violence in a relationship with a British or settled partner or because they fear gender-related persecution in their country of origin. Cases where the victim has an insecure immigration status are often complicated and require specialist help. Victims should consult a reputable and properly qualified immigration solicitor or advisor if they wish to make an application to remain in the UK or are unsure about their status. Other agencies, such as BME women's groups, can also provide information and support to victims in this situation. See Annex B for further information.
There are a growing number of professionals who have been identified as 'knowledge specialists' for honour based violence and forced marriage.
This pool of people includes: police specialists; analysts; academics; and policy makers. It is essential if the criminal justice system is to ensure continued service delivery improvements and for staff development that this knowledge and expertise is cascaded widely through the CPS.
The CPS honour based violence and forced marriage pilot identified that trained specialist prosecutors were pivotal to the success of cases. Specialist prosecutors have been identified and will undergo a programme of training during spring 2010. These specialists will be a vital resource in disseminating knowledge and improving the response to victims/survivors of honour based violence.
Although there is no specific criminal offences of forcing someone to marry within England and Wales, criminal offences may still have been committed. These are set out in more detail above in the definition section of this guidance.
Additionally, there are a number of emergency legal remedies available to protect victims. These are primarily civil and family orders that can be made to protect those threatened with or already in a forced marriage or being subjected to other forms of honour based violence. Some of these require the police or local authority to take action whilst others require the victim to seek an order on their own behalf.
For further information refer to 'Domestic Violence: A Guide to Civil Rememdies and Criminal Sanctions' on the Family Justice website found in a number of languages.
Social care services may approach the police and ask for their assistance in undertaking a joint investigation. This will be handled in accordance with the procedures prepared by the Local Safeguarding Children Board and in accordance with Working Together- Working Together to Safeguard Children HM Government, 2006 and Safeguarding Children: Working Together Under the Children Act 2004 (WAG). A joint approach may be particularly useful where it is thought that a child or young person is at immediate risk of forced marriage.
Where there is reasonable cause to believe that a child or young person, under the age of 18 years, is at risk of significant harm, a police officer may (with or without the co-operation of social care services) remove them from the parent and place them under "police protection" for up to 72 hours (under section 46 Children Act 1989). The police must inform children's social care and ask them to assist in finding safe and secure accommodation for the child or young person. Childrens social care should commence child protection enquiries under section 47.
After 72 hours, the police must release the child or young person. At this point, however, childrens social care may apply for an emergency protection order (EPO) if they are still considered to be at risk of significant harm. The police have the power to make their own application for an EPO. Social care services should assist the police, if requested to do so, by arranging a placement for the child or young person in a place of safety, taking into account risk management and safety planning - whether this is in local authority accommodation provided by childrens social care, on their behalf, or in a refuge.
Prosecutors should also make reference to the section of this guidance which deals in more detail with witness protection.
The police do not have parental responsibility with respect to the child or young person while they are under police protection but they can do what is reasonable in the circumstances for the purposes of safeguarding or promoting the childs welfare. The police cannot make any decisions for them beyond the 72 hours of the order.
Sometimes an EPO is followed by an application from the local authority for a care order - under section 31 and section 38 Children Act 1989. Without such an application the EPO will lapse and the local authority will no longer have parental responsibility. A court will only make an interim care order or an interim supervision order under section 38 Children Act 1989 if it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the following threshold criteria are met:
- the young person concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm; and
- the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to (amongst other things);
- the care given to the young person, or likely to be given to them if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to a young person.
It is the court's responsibility to decide whether an order is necessary to protect the young person and what sort of order is the most appropriate. The advantage of a care order over a supervision order is that it allows greater protection to be offered to the young person as the local authority may obtain an order that there be no contact with the family and may conceal the whereabouts of the child if that is necessary to ensure adequate protection.
An EPO is open to challenge by the child's or young person's parents or any person with parental responsibility. Once an EPO is made, the local authority shares parental responsibility with the parents but can only exercise parental responsibility so far as required to safeguard or promote the child's welfare. The local authority need not release details of where the child or young person is living if this is necessary to protect the young person. If it is necessary to protect the child or young person, the court should be asked for an order that states there be no contact (or restricted contact) during the period of the EPO. If this is not asked for, there is a presumption of reasonable contact. Social care services have a duty to make child protection enquiries (section 47) when a child or young person living in their area is the subject of an EPO or is in police protection or who they have reasonable cause to suspect is suffering, or is likely to suffer from significant harm - under section 47 Children Act 1989.
There will be cases where a care order is not appropriate, possibly because of the age of the child. A childrens social care department may ask the court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to protect the child. Any interested party, including the young person themselves, a private individual or the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS/CAFCASS CYMRU) legal services can apply to have a young person up to the age of 18 made a ward of court. For the purposes of obtaining protection for a child or young person, there is little difference between wardship and the other orders made in the exercise of the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. Both types of orders under the inherent jurisdiction are flexible and wide-ranging and an order may be sought where either there is a real risk of a child or young person being forced into marriage or after the marriage has taken place.
Where there is a fear that a child or young person may be taken abroad for the purpose of a forced marriage, an order for the surrender of their passport may be made as well as an order that the child or young person may not leave the jurisdiction without the Court's permission. Orders for the immediate return of the child or young person can be obtained. These orders can be enforced on family members or extended family members. The orders are in the form of injunctions with penal notices attached. There have been cases where the court has invoked inherent jurisdiction to protect adults facing forced marriage. In particular, this is relevant for adults under a disability that prevents them form making a free choice, or are incapacitated or disabled from giving or expressing a real and genuine consent.
Once a young person has left the country, there are fewer legal options open to police, social services, other agencies or another person to recover the young person and bring them back to the UK. One course of action is to seek the return of the young person to the jurisdiction of England and Wales by making them a ward of court or subject to a Forced Marriage Protection Orders.
An application for wardship is made to the High Court Family Division, and may be made by a relative, friend close to the child or young person, CAFCASS/CAFCASS CYMRU legal services department or any interested party, including a local authority. The High Court has extensive experience of forced marriage cases and of dealing with them quickly. Its orders in the inherent jurisdiction and under wardship have greater influence in foreign states.
An Emergency Family Division Applications Judge is available at 10.30 am and 2 pm on all working days at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London, to hear without notice applications. Once the order is obtained, the co-operation of the authorities in the country to which the child or young person has been taken can be sought. Without such co-operation, it may be difficult to locate and return the child or young person.
The Forced Marriage Unit can offer advice and support on possible options. More information about the work of the Forced Marriage Unit is detailed at the end of this chapter.
In child abduction cases, it may be possible to seek a tipstaff order this may be a seek and locate order backed by a bench warrant ordering any person with knowledge of the child or young person to give that information to the Tipstaff (who is an officer of the High Court) or his/her deputy or assistants.
The majority of the Tipstaffs work involves taking children into custody and dealing with child abduction).
Related orders may require the alleged abductor to hand his passport and other travel documents to the Tipstaff, and order the Tipstaff to take the child and deliver him or her to a designated place.
There may also be a port alert executed by the Tipstaff, to help prevent the child or young person being taken abroad. In the case of children who have been declared a ward of court for example, in cases where the court is acting in loco parentis the Tipstaff has a role in ensuring that those children are delivered to the locations specified by the court.
The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 enables the courts to make Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) to prevent or pre-empt forced marriages from occurring and to protect those who have already been forced into marriage. The order can include restrictions or requirements to protect a victim from a spouse, family member or anyone involved - and the order can relate to conduct either within or outside of England and Wales. In cases involving children, FMPOs can be used alongside wardship (-Involvement can include aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring, encouraging, or assisting another person to force or attempt to force a person to marry).
Applications for a FMPO can be made direct to the court by the person seeking protection. The Act has been extended since 1 November 2009 to allow local authorities, which will be designated as relevant third parties under the Act. This means that local authorities do not need to seek the courts permission to make an application for an order. Other people can also make applications with the leave of the court. This means that they have the courts permission to make an application.
Breach of an order made under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 is not a criminal offence. However, there is provision in the Act for a power of arrest to be attached to the order. The court must attach a power of arrest to the order where violence has been threatened or used unless the court considers that there will be adequate protection without it.
Where a power of arrest is attached, police may arrest a person whom they have reasonable cause to suspect is in breach of the order. For further information on Forced Marriage Protection Orders and a list of county courts where applications can be made, refer to Her Majestys Court Service Form FL701.8.
Further information can be found at:
For further information about the remedies that are available refer to the Ministry of Justice publication Domestic Violence: A Guide to Civil Remedies and Criminal Sanctions on the Family Justice Website.
A person may seek a non-molestation order against their spouse under section 42 of the Family Law Act, 1996. When such an order is granted it forbids the spouse or family member from using violence or other behaviour amounting to harassment against the applicant. Such an order can also be sought in relation to a child of the family. The criteria for granting such an order are:
- there must be evidence of molestation (e.g. domestic violence or other behaviour which amounts to harassment);
- the applicant or child must need protection; and
- the judge must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that judicial intervention is required to control the behaviour, which is the subject of complaint the order may be applied for without notice being given to the spouse if there is a risk of significant harm to the applicant or to a child.
A non-molestation order may be made not only against a spouse but also against:
- a person who lives in the same household (but not if the reason they are living in the same household is because one is the others employee, tenant, lodger or boarder);
- relatives; or
- a person whom the applicant has agreed to marry.
Even though non-molestation orders are civil court orders, breaching a non-molestation order issued after 1st July 2007 is a criminal offence for which perpetrators may be fined or sent to prison.
A person may also seek an occupation order against their spouse under the Family Law Act 1996, seeking the removal of their spouse from the house.
The criteria for removal are stricter, and being a victim of a forced marriage is unlikely to be sufficient to obtain an occupation order. The basis on which an order may be granted also depends upon the "right to occupy".
It will be necessary to seek legal advice to ascertain whether it would be possible for someone to obtain such an order.
A person may also seek an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. They may obtain an injunction against their spouse, a family member or any other person, if they knowingly pursue a course of conduct against the person that amounts to harassment.
Criminal proceedings may also be taken under this Act for harassment. A course of conduct must involve conduct on at least two occasions. Conduct can include speech and need not be a physical attack. A threat to use violence that causes fear can therefore amount to conduct for the purposes of this Act.
Breach of a non molestation order is a criminal offence.
Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 (which was implemented on 30 September 2009) amends the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
It has enabled a criminal court to make a restraining order in any offence where a defendant has been convicted or acquitted, if the court believes that the victim is in need of protection.
This may be very useful in cases of honour based violence or forced marriage where it is imperative that we make an effort to increase the safety of the victim and any children or other relevant family members.
For further guidance on the use of this legislation, refer to: Restraining Orders Guidance.
A significant number of cases dealt with by the Forced Marriage Unit and by investigators and prosecutors illustrates the international nature of some of these honour based violence and forced marriage crimes. Early discussions with the extradition team at CPS Headquarters will assist. Further information can be found within the Extradition Guidance.
Increasingly, prosecutors must be conscious of any international element or potential international issues as early as possible so that investigations and prosecutions are not impeded.
Mutual legal assistance is often sought for these types of crime. More information can be found within the Extradition Guidance.
Crimes of forced marriage and Honour Based Violence are often sufficiently high profile in a number of countries to enable us to get support of other jurisdictions in obtaining evidence and potentially bringing suspects back to the UK.
In more cases, prosecutors must be conscious of any international element or potential international issues as early as possible so that any investigation or prosecution is not impeded.
The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office Unit. The Unit works with other Government departments, statutory agencies and voluntary organisations to develop effective policy for tackling forced marriage. The FMU organise ongoing outreach programme raising awareness amongst frontline practitioners such as police, teachers, doctors, nurses and social workers throughout the UK. The Unit also works in partnership with community organisations and voluntary organisations to tackle forced marriage. It also runs an annual fund to support small projects on forced marriage.
In addition to training and strategic work, the FMU has a public helpline that provides confidential advice and support to victims, and to practitioners handling cases of forced marriage. Caseworkers in the Unit have experience of the cultural, social and emotional issues surrounding forced marriage. The FMU offers information and support to those who fear they will be forced into marriage and can talk with them about their options.
In respect to overseas cases, the FMU can assist British nationals facing forced marriage abroad by helping them to a place of safety and helping them to return to the UK. The FMU can assist non-British nationals facing forced marriage abroad by referring them to local organisations that can help. It can also help those who have already been forced into marriage to explore their options, including assisting those who are being forced to sponsor a spouses visa for settlement in the UK.
The FMU welcomes enquiries from frontline practitioners handling cases of forced marriage at any stage in a case. It can offer information and advice on the range of tools available to combat forced marriage, including legal remedies, overseas assistance and how to approach victims.
To contact the FMU:
Call: 020 7008 0151 (Mon-Fri: 09.00-17.00)
Address: Forced Marriage Unit, Foreign &Commonwealth Office, Old Admiralty Building,
For out of hours emergencies, please telephone 020 7008 1500 and ask to speak to the Global Response Centre.
Guidelines for Police Offices Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines: Handling Cases of Forced Marriage
How Police Officers can make a difference
Police have a number of responsibilities in relation to forced marriage. These include, protecting victims, investigating any crimes associated with forcing someone to marry and assisting the prosecution as well as supporting the witnesses.
In line with other publications for police on domestic abuse, this chapter focuses mainly on womens needs. This is because 85% of those seeking help concerning forced marriage are women and the consequences for women are different than those for men. Women trapped in a forced marriage often experience violence, rape, forced pregnancy and forced childbearing. Many girls and young women are withdrawn from education early. Some are taken and left abroad for extended periods, which isolates them from help and support this limits their choices so that often they go through with the marriage as the only option. Their interrupted education limits their career choices. Even if women manage to find work, however basic, they may be prevented from taking the job or their earnings may be taken from them. This leads to economic dependence, which makes the possibility of leaving the situation even more difficult. Some may be unable to leave the house unescorted living virtually under house arrest.
Although this chapter focuses on women, much of the guidance applies to men facing forced marriage and men should be given the same assistance and respect when they seek help. Men may find it more difficult to admit to being forced into marriage and therefore, may be less likely to seek help.
To gain the trust of the person, police must have a good understanding of the issues surrounding forced marriage and the steps that they can take in order to protect a victim. They need to be aware that people living within a forced marriage, or those under threat of one, may face significant harm if their families become aware that they have sought assistance from an agency whether it is police, social care or a voluntary or community-based organisation. The persons safety must come first. In many cases, it may not be in their best interest to remain with the family or even in the immediate vicinity. For these reasons, cases of forced marriage, actual or suspected, should only be handled by an officer who has been nominated by his or her police force as being qualified by both relevant experience and specialist training to deal with cases of forced marriage.
What to do when someone fears they may be forced to marry
First steps in all cases:
- See them immediately in a secure and private place where the conversation cannot be overheard
- See them on their own even if they attend with others
- Explain all the options to them
- Recognise and respect their wishes
- Perform a risk assessment
- Contact, as soon as possible, a trained specialist who has responsibility for forced marriage
- If the young person is under 18 years of age, refer them to the designated person with responsibility for safeguarding children and activate local safeguarding procedures
- If the person is an adult with support needs, refer them to the person with responsibility for safeguarding vulnerable adults
- Reassure them about confidentiality i.e. practitioners will not inform their family
- Establish a way of contacting them discreetly in the future
- Obtain full details to pass on to the trained specialist
- Consider the need for immediate protection and placement away from the family.
- Send them away
- Approach members of their family or the community unless they expressly ask you to do so
- Share information with anyone without their express consent (section 3.3 and 3.7)
- Breach confidentiality
- Attempt to be a mediator
- Give them, where possible, the choice of the ethnicity and gender of the specialist who deals with their case
- Inform them of their right to seek legal advice and representation
- If necessary, record any injuries and arrange a medical examination
- Give them personal safety advice
- Develop a safety plan in case they are seen i.e. prepare another reason why you are meeting
- Establish if there is a family history of forced marriage, e.g. siblings forced to marry. Other indicators may include domestic violence, self-harm, family disputes, unreasonable restrictions (e.g. withdrawal from education or house arrest) or missing persons within the family
- Advise them not to travel overseas. Discuss the difficulties they may face
- Identify any potential criminal offences and refer to CSPS
- Give them advice on what service or support they should expect and from whom
- Ensure that they have the contact details for the trained specialist
- Maintain a full record of the decisions made and the reason for those decisions
- Information from case files and database files should be kept strictly confidential and preferably be restricted to named members of staff only
- Refer them, with their consent, to appropriate local and national support groups, counselling services and womens groups that have a history of working with survivors of domestic abuse and forced marriage
When referring a case of forced marriage to other organisations, ensure they are capable of handling the case appropriately. If in doubt, approach established womens groups who have a history of working with survivors of domestic abuse and forced marriage and ask these groups to refer the person to reputable agencies. Circumstances may be more complex if the person
is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
British Embassies and High Commissions can only help British nationals or, in certain circumstances EU or Commonwealth nationals. This means that if a non-British national leaves the UK to be forced into marriage overseas, the British Embassy or High Commission will not be able to assist them. If in doubt, ask the Forced Marriage Unit for advice.
- Collect as much of the information as possible
- Discuss the case with the Forced Marriage Unit
- Refer the victim, with their consent, to appropriate local and national support groups, counselling services and womens groups that have a history of working with survivors of domestic abuse and forced marriage
- Consider whether a communication specialist is needed if the victim is deaf, visually impaired or has earning disabilities
- Check police and social services records for past referrals of family members including siblings e.g. domestic abuse or missing persons within the family.
- Obtain details of any threats, abuse or hostile actions against them
- Create a restricted entry in the force intelligence system and submit a crime report if applicable
- Explain the options available to them
- If foreign travel with the family becomes unavoidable, take the precautions
What to do when a third party reports that someone has been taken overseas for the purpose of a forced marriage.
Sometimes a person may be taken overseas on the pretext of a family holiday, the wedding of a relative or the illness of a grandparent. On arrival, their documents and passports may be taken away from them. Some even report their parents drugging them. In these cases, it may be a concerned friend, relative, partner or agency that reports them missing. These cases may initially be reported to the Forced Marriage Unit, social care, police, education or a voluntary group. As with all cases of forced marriage, confidentiality and discretion are vitally important. It is not advisable immediately to contact an overseas police service or organisation to make enquiries. Risks may arise if police or organisations overseas are contacted directly. If, through police actions, the family becomes aware that enquiries are being made, they may move the victim to another location or expedite the forced marriage.
- Collect as much information as possible as set out above
- Discuss the case with the Forced Marriage Unit
- Refer to the Child Protection Officer, if the person is under 18 years
- Check existing missing persons reports
- Obtain details of, and maintain contact with, the third party in case the person contacts them whilst overseas or on their return
- Consider asking an Education Welfare Officer to make careful enquiries
- Use existing national and local protocols for interagency liaison
Reassure the third party that if the person being held overseas wishes to return to the UK (if they are a British national), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office can try to repatriate them as soon as possible. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is obliged to ask the individual, the third party or trusted friends to fund the cost of repatriation. However, this should never delay the process of getting the individual to safety. Police should be extremely careful not to disclose information to the overseas police or any other overseas organisation that could place the person in further danger e.g. disclosure about previous/current boyfriends or partners in the UK.
There may be occasions when a person is overseas and the Forced Marriage Unit ask the police to visit the family in the UK to request that the family overseas present the person at the nearest British Embassy or High Commission (if they are a British national). In these situations, the family may suggest that the police officer speaks to the person on the telephone. If this occurs, the officer should refuse to speak on the telephone and insist that the person is presented at the British Embassy or High Commission. There have been occasions when individuals have not been able to talk freely over the telephone or a different person has spoken to the officer.
- Go directly to the persons family, friends or those with influence within the community, as this will alert them to the enquiries and may place them in further danger. (Note: There may be exceptional circumstances when the Forced Marriage Unit asks the police to visit the family)
- Make direct contact with the British Embassy, High Commission or overseas police without first liaising with the Forced Marriage Unit
- Speak to the person on the telephone in order to find out if they are being held against their will. The family may be present threatening them or it may be a different person speaking on the telephone.
- Ascertain if anyone else is aware of the situation and establish whether enquiries have already been made. Is there evidence to support forced marriage and other abuses?
- Dissuade the third party and other agencies involved in the case from making enquiries and taking action independently of the police.
- Find and document any evidence to confirm the threat of forced marriage and any related criminal offences.
- If the third party needs support, refer them to an organisation with a history of assisting in cases of forced marriage and domestic abuse
What to do when someone has already been forced to marry
Many cases of forced marriage come to light when a person (particularly a woman) is reported missing or there are allegations of abuse and domestic violence but some cases are brought to the attention of the police or social care when a victim is forced to act as a sponsor for their spouses immigration to the UK. They are frequently reluctant to tell the immigration service that it was a forced marriage because of threats and fear of reprisals from the family. A person whose application to enter the UK as a spouse is refused has a right to know the reasons why - and the right to appeal against the decision. This can place the person in a difficult position.
Although someone may be tempted to prevent a successful visa application for their spouse, in reality, it is not possible to do this without all parties concerned being aware of their reason for not wishing to sponsor their spouses visa application. Spouses forced into marriage may suffer years of
domestic violence, but feel unable to leave due to fear of losing their children, lack of family support, economic pressures and other social circumstances.
The fact that they were forced to marry may only become apparent years after the marriage has taken place. In all cases, the police officer needs to discuss the range of options available to the person and the possible consequences of their chosen course of action
British High Commissions and Embassies
Contact the Forced Marriage Unit if you require further details of any other British High Commission
BANGLADESH - Dhaka
British High Commission
United Nations Road
Postal Address: PO Box 6079, Dhaka 1212
Telephone: (00) (880) (2) 8822705-9
Facsimile: (00) (880) (2) 8823437
Office Hours (GMT): Sun to Wed 03.00-10.15
Local Time Sun-Wed 08.00-15.15
BANGLADESH - Sylhet
British High Commission
Telephone: (00) (880) (821) 724694
Facsimilie: (00) (880) (021) 720070
Office Hours (GMT): Sun to Wed 03.00-10.15
Local Time Sun - Wed 08.00-15.15
ETHIOPIA - Addis Ababa
Postal address: PO Box 858, Addis Ababa
Telephone:(00) (251) (11) 6610588
Facsimile:(00) (251) (11) 6614154
Consular facsimile: (00) (251) (11) 6414154
Office hours (GMT): Mon - Thurs 05.00-3.00
Local time: Mon - Thurs 08.00 -16.30
Fri 08.00 - 13.00
INDIA - New Delhi
British High Commission
New Delhi 110021
Telephone: (00) (91) (11) 2687 2161
Facsimile: (00) (91) (11) 2 6116094
Office Hours (GMT) Mon-Fri 03.30 - 07.30
08.30 - 11.30
Local Time 09.00-13.00
INDIA - Mumbai (Bombay)
Office of the British Deputy High Commissioner
C/32 G Block
Bandra Kurla Complex (Opposite Dena Bank)
Telephone: (00) (91) (22) 66502222
Facsimile: (00) (91) (22) 66502324
Office Hours (GMT) Mon-Thurs 02.30-10.30
Fri 02.30-07.30 and 08.30-10.30
Local Time Mon-Thurs 08.00-16.00
Fri 08.00-13.00 and 14.00-16.00
British High Commission
PO Box 1122
Telephone: (00) (92) (51) 2012000
Facsimile: (00) (92) (51) 2012019
Office Hours (GMT) Mon-Thurs 03.00-11.15
Local Time Mon-Thurs 08.00-16.15
British Deputy High Commission
Telephone: (00) (92) (21) 5827000
Facsimile: (00) (92) (21) 5827012
Office Hours (GMT) Mon - Thurs 03.00-11.15
Local Time Mon - Thurs 08.00-16.15
British Consulate General
Mesrutiyet Caddesi No 34
Tepebasi Beyoglu 34435
Telephone: (00) (90) (212) 334 6400
Facsimile: (00) (90) (212) 315 6401
Consular facsimile: (00) (90) (212) 334 6407
Office hours (GMT): Mon - Fri 06.30-11.00
Local time: 08.30-13.00
YEMEN - Sana'a
938 Thaher Himiyar Street
East Ring Road (opposite
PO Box 1287
Telephone: (00) (967) 1308 100
Facsimile: (00) (967) 1302454
Office hours (GMT): Sat-Wed 04.30-11.30
Local time: 07.30-14.30
Information on the Immigration Issues that some Victims of Forced Marriage or Honour Based Crime may experience.
Domestic Violence by a British Citizen or Person with Permanent Settlement
Victims with an insecure immigration status may be entitled to remain in the UK if they have experienced domestic violence and they enter or remain in the country on the basis of marriage/relationship/civil partnership to a British citizen or a partner with permanent settlement (the sponsor), subject to a twoyear probationary period.
A probationary period is the period for which the foreign spouse/partner has limited to leave to remain in the UK which is dependant on their marriage/relationship being subsisting. Currently, the probationary period is two years, at the end of which the foreign spouse can obtain indefinite leave to remain in the UK with the support of their British spouse/partner. If the marriage/relationship breaks down during the probationary period, the foreign spouse/partner is normally required to leave the UK and return to their country of origin. The domestic violence rules enables victims to stay in the UK indefinitely if the marriage/relationship breaks down due to domestic violence within the probationary period and they meet the evidential criteria as set out in the immigration rules.
They will have to show that the marriage/relationship broke down due to domestic violence within the two year probation period and provide the requisite evidence. This provision applies even if the abuse is from persons other than the sponsor and it leads to the breakdown of the marriage or relationship, for example, where the sponsor fails to protect the victim from abuse by members of the sponsors extended family.
Evidence Required: The following evidence is required to show domestic violence under the Immigration Rules:
- A relevant court conviction against the sponsor; or
- Full details of a relevant police caution issued against the sponsor.
If the victim is unable to provide any of the above, the following formal documentary evidence will be considered:
- An injunction, non-molestation order or other protection order made against the sponsor (other than an ex-parte or interim order);
- A letter from Chair of a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC).
If none of the above are available, evidence from the following non-exhaustive list will be considered:
- A medical report from a hospital doctor confirming injuries consistent with being a victim of domestic violence; and/or a letter from a General Medical Council registered family doctor who has examined the victim and is satisfied that their injuries are consistent with being a victim of domestic violence;
- An undertaking given to a court that the abuser will not approach the victim;
- A police report confirming attendance at the victims home as a result of domestic violence;
- A letter from social care services confirming its involvement in connection with domestic violence; or
- A letter of support or a report from womens refuge or domestic violence support organisation.
Applicants are required to provide as many pieces of evidence as possible to prove they were the victim of domestic violence. Providing only one piece of evidence from those listed in section C would not usually be deemed to have proven the case.
Applications from overstayers, or those who apply to remain after the two year probation has ended, will be considered sympathetically. In making the application, it is important to set out the reasons for the delay.
Domestic Violence by European Economic Area Nationals
A similar domestic violence rule also benefits non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who enter or stay in the UK as a result of marriage or partnership with an EEA national (as opposed to a British National). The marriage/partnership must have lasted for at least three years immediately prior to the divorce/termination of the partnership, both parties must have lived in the UK for at least one year of the marriage/civil partnership, and the EEA national must have been exercising Treaty rights during that time.
Chapter 5 of the Immigration Directorates Instructions at:
In order to qualify for residence, the applicant must provide their passport, evidence of domestic violence (as outlined above) and evidence that they are a worker, self-employed or self- sufficient (including students that are self-sufficient).
If the victim cannot return to their country of origin and wants to remain in the UK, it is essential to report any domestic violence they may have suffered, particularly to the agencies outlined above, where the victim is seeking also assistance.
Asylum, Humanitarian Protection or Discretionary Leave:
Other applications may also be possible for asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain in the country if the victim is escaping forced marriage or other dangers to their or their childrens lives or well-being abroad. When assessing any claims for asylum, the Home Office should take into account any relevant gender issues, including the specific Asylum Policy Instructions under Gender Issues for Asylum claims. All victims can also apply outside the immigration rules for leave to remain on compassionate or exceptional grounds.
For more information you can refer to See Asylum Policy Instructions under Gender Issues for Asylum Claims:
Also see the Immigration Appellate Authoritys Asylum Gender Guidelines:
The victim should make an application to the Home Office before their limited leave to remain or visa expires as this improves their chance of remaining in the UK and protects their rights to appeal.
No Access to Public Funds
Victims with an insecure immigration status may also be prohibited from claiming public funds, which includes most Social Security benefits and housing under the Housing Act 1996. However, note that persons with indefinite leave to remain (ILR), refugees and those with humanitarian protection, discretionary leave to remain or right of abode in the UK, have the same entitlements to public funds as a British citizen. Also, some categories of overseas nationals with no settlement rights may also be entitled. It is therefore best to check entitlement. This prohibition does not apply to public funding (legal aid) for legal help or assistance.
Victims with no recourse to public funds can pursue the following options for housing and financial support:
From December 2009, the Home Office and Eaves Housing for Women are running a three month pilot scheme which gives housing and subsistence costs for up to 40 days for victims of domestic violence eligible to apply under the domestic violence immigration rule. See www.eaves4women.co.uk
Approach an advice and support agency, particularly womens refuges and support services (including those specifically providing for BME women), to obtain information, advice and assistance on safe accommodation and financial support. Contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline for list of agencies Tel 0808 2000 247.
Southall Black Sisters runs a small fund providing direct housing and subsistence cost, subject to availability. See their website www.southallblacksisters.org.uk.
Contact social care services (particularly if the victim is a pregnant woman, is with children or is especially vulnerable due to age, disability or ill health) for help under the Children Act 1989, the National Assistance Act 1948 and other legislation. Local authority support does not count as public funds. If possible, the victim should consult an immigration solicitor before making such an approach for assistance from the local authority as the authority may contact the Home Office to establish the victims status.
Contact a family lawyer to make an application for maintenance for the victim from the sponsor in the Family Courts. However this option may be limited if it is a short marriage, the sponsor has a low income and if there are long delays or problems in obtaining public funding or a court hearing date.
Apply to the Home Office National Asylum Support Services (NASS) if they have claimed asylum and/or made a human rights claim under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, provided that the applications are being considered as such, or at least acknowledged, by the Home Office.
Aide-memoire on charging in Honour Based Violence cases including Forced Marriage.
This aide-mmoire has been prepared to assist prosecutors particularly when making charging decisions in cases of Honour Based Violence (HBV) and Forced Marriage (FM) and in understanding the relationship between the stages of the tests in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Domestic Violence (which includes HBV and FM within its remit).
Relationship between the Code and domestic violence policy.
The domestic violence policy statement and legal guidance for HBV and FM should always be read in conjunction with the Code. These documents support and underpin the Code by providing further guidance. These should never be interpreted in such a way that the Code test is diluted or supplanted.
Points to consider
Definitions of HBV and FM and charging considerations:
- There are no specific offences of forced marriage or honour crimes. Forced marriage and honour crimes are umbrella terms to encompass composite offences already covered by existing legislation, for which there is already guidance. Both are a violation of human rights and may be a form of domestic and/or sexual violence.
- The definition of honour crimes we use is the cross government definition namely that Honour-based violence is a crime or incident which has or may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community.
- Similarly we use the the cross-government definition of forced marriage: A marriage without the consent of one or both parties and where duress is a factor. The Court of Appeal clarified that duress is: whether the mind of the applicant has been overborne, howsoever that was caused.
Building a robust case
- Prosecutors will be well aware of the usual routes that the police follow in order to obtain evidence in relation to the types of crimes that might be motivated by forced marriage and honour. However, prosecutors should be mindful of the challenges which arise given the issues with regard to victim confidence, witness corroboration and familial setting of most such allegations.
- Many of these crimes are extremely well-organised, planned by more than one individual and may have been instigated by others (which include family, extended family and community members). The conspiratorial nature of such crimes requires us to consider whether we need to use the tools that are most effective against organised crime, e.g. covert intelligence techniques, including the use of covert human intelligence. Prosecutors are therefore advised to read the relevant CPS Policy and the appropriate RIPA Guidance.
- Given the organised nature of much of this crime, prosecutors may need to give thought to public appeals for information in an attempt to reassure witnesses that they will be taken seriously.
- Don't assume that a complainant giving evidence in court is the only way to prove the matter. Instead, consider if there is other material that supports the prosecution case but is independent of the complainant, or corroborates the complainant.
- Whilst each case must be considered on its merits, you should routinely ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the victims account corroborated by any other evidence?
- What other evidence can we rely upon apart from the victims account?
- A police officers account?
- A neighbours account?
- Another eye witness statement (for example, from a child)?
- 999 tape (remember to listen to this even if someone else made the call)?
- CCTV or head camera footage?
- Bad character?
- A note of injuries in the police incident report book?
- Evidence of previous incidents including those against other victims?
- Medical evidence?
- Any photos of injuries and the scene?
- Any damage on property noticed by the officer?
- Is there a history of previous incidents?
- Are there any civil orders in place including Forced Marriage Protection Orders and could these provide any evidence to assist in the criminal case?
- Has the defendant breached any criminal or civil orders in the past?
- Do you intend to rely upon expert evidence? If yes, have you fully briefed the expert?
- Make sure you consider all available charges and record full reasons for your decisions. Always comprehensively endorse the MG3 to show the elements you consider.
- If there is an action plan for the police, make sure that it is detailed and prioritised, so that time isnt wasted gathering evidence that doesnt substantially take the case any further.
- Where it isnt necessary to detain a suspect in custody, short periods of pre charge bail may be helpful to ensure the best evidence can be gathered before a prosecution is brought. But remember that the safety of the complainant and any children is a key consideration. Suitable bail conditions, that do not restrict the victim and children, should be imposed to prevent further offending and intimidation of the complainant.
- Find out whether there are any concurrent or imminent public law or private law family proceedings involving the complainant and/or accused. Also, find out whether Social Services has been alerted to the violence or involved with the family.
- Make sure you are aware of available civil proceedings and remedies and how they might affect criminal proceedings.
- Consideration should be given to obtaining expert evidence during both the investigative and the trial stages. Forced marriage and honour crimes tend to fall outside the experience of the average investigator, prosecutor and juror. Expert evidence from those who have an understanding not only of honour crimes and forced marriage, but specifically about the communities within which they most occur, will be of great assistance.
- Try to prevent unnecessary delay and take decisions in a timely manner. But remember to balance the need for expedition with the need for proper investigation.
Evidence by and about the defendant
- Don't focus solely on the behaviour of the victim. Instead, find out details of the defendants previous misconduct, if any, at the earliest opportunity so you can assess whether this evidence could be used as part of your case:
- Does the defendant have any related previous convictions or acquittals?
- What was the defendants conduct and demeanour like when arrested?
- Has the defendant made any admissions?
- Are there any previous domestic violence reports that may not have been pursued to court?
- Is any available bad character evidence admissible?
- Those who participate in these types of crimes, both in this jurisdiction and abroad, are often keen to use the youngest member of the family to carry out any harmful acts. This may be to deflect attention away from those who have conspired in the criminal act. When considering youths, prosecutors will need to give some thought to whether it is necessary to prove the age of the alleged perpetrator as some claim to be under 18 when they are not. There are a number of options available to investigators and prosecutors to give them some confirmation of age.
- Where a person of migrant status has been involved in the commission of the crimes, there have been instances where the identity given is questionable. A variety of enquiries may need to be undertaken by investigators to satisfy themselves as to the identity and immigration status of individual(s) concerned. Prosecutors and investigators can be assisted by enquiries in other jurisdictions either through the mutual legal assistance route or, more informally, through police to police contacts.
- Given the international nature of these crimes, early discussions with the extradition team at CPS Headquarters may assist.
- Explore the credibility of the defendants account as part of the charging consultation:
- How plausible is the defendants account?
- Were there any signs of injury to the defendant upon arrest (see domestic violence guidance on dealing with self-defence and/or counter-allegations)?
- Are there any contradictions in the defendants account?
- Has the defendant made no comment from which an adverse inference can be drawn?
- Remember that in these cases there is often more than one defendant and that preplanning is often features.
Victim participation and support
- These cases involve some of our most vulnerable victims and witnesses who often have the least confidence in criminal justice. They may also need support mechanisms not just during the prosecution process, but throughout the rest of their lives.
- Do all you can to support the victim through the criminal justice process to encourage them to participate in the prosecution and to give their best evidence.
- Has the victim indicated what support s/he needs through the prosecution process (for example, special measures, reporting restrictions)? Has this been reflected in the polices action plan?
- Do you have enough information to ensure that victim care issues can be comprehensively assessed (for example, on the MG2 and MG11 forms)?
- Has an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor or specialist domestic violence support agency made contact with the victim?
- Does the victim have any individual needs such that they require specialist support (for example, cultural or language barriers, alcohol or drug dependency, disability, physical or mental illness)?
- How would the victim feel if forced to face the defendant during trial?
- Has a victim impact statement been taken? Is it up-to-date?
- Some victims and witnesses will require the following, in addition to the usual special measures:
- the full protection afforded by witness protection schemes,
- anonymity, even voice distortion,
- reporting restrictions,
- other special measures in order for them to feel confident and comfortable with giving evidence,
- a multi-agency risk assessment which may need to be on-going after the conclusion of the charging decision and/or the prosecution.
- Make sure that the victims statement includes information about whether s/he supports the prosecution. If the victim indicates that they wish to withdraw the complaint or their support for the prosecution, ask yourself:
- Is there any reason to believe that the victim might have been pressured or frightened into retracting? Some victims may be particularly vulnerable, for example, victims with mental health issues or learning difficulties.
- Has the victim previously retracted a complaint or failed to give evidence in proceedings? If so, why? What was the nature of the previous allegation?
- Has a risk assessment been conducted by the police?
- If the victim resolutely refuses to proceed, have you considered:
- continuing the case without the victim?
- using the hearsay provisions to include the complainants evidence?
- compelling them to attend by use of a witness summons and, if appropriate, a warrant?
- What would be the effect of proceeding or not proceeding with the case without the victim?
- Victims with an insecure immigration status are particularly vulnerable as their rights to settlement or public funds, such as social security benefits and public housing, may be limited. They may be reluctant to come forward to seek help as they may fear deportation and/or destitution. Prosecutors, investigators and witness care units need to know what support agencies are available for victims within their local area, nationally, and internationally.
- Prosecutors should be aware that the difficulties and trauma associated with these crimes can be exacerbated by language difficulties. Language difficulties pose particular barriers in accessing legal, social, medical and support services. Individuals who are victims of honour crimes are not a homogenous group. Their needs may vary and be influenced by a range of cultural barriers, level of education, length of residence, level of English fluency, family and social network and economic independence.
- When selecting interpreters, care must be taken to ensure that they have an understanding of the culture of the linguistic community they are interpreting for. Experience has led us to be concerned about interpreters and translators who are not on the approved list and who may often be part of the family or linked to the group suspected of carrying out the crime. Prosecutors should consult CPS guidance on the use of interpreters.
- Many of the agencies which are active in this area are non-governmental and voluntary agencies. The groups which have particular expertise are specialist black and minority ethnic womens organisations which have a track record in providing services on domestic and sexual violence, forced marriage and honour crimes. Prosecutors must recognise that they are busy. Simply asking them to help you during the normal working day is likely to be insufficient. You are encouraged to be open (with confidentiality agreements in place) and to share progress and obstacles
- You should consider at the earliest stage if a victim would benefit from any ancillary orders on conclusion of the criminal case. In particular, if a victim is in need of further protection from the defendant a restraining order can be a useful way to increase the victims (or any at-risk childrens) safety. Since 30 September 2009 such an order can be made against a defendant convicted of any offence, and, in more limited circumstances, on acquittal.li>