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"Honour crimes" and forced marriage

What is a so-called 'honour' crime?

So-called '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.

'So-called Honour Crime' 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 such acts.

(definition used by the Metropolitan Police Working Group on honour based violence)

What is a forced marriage?

In a forced marriage you are coerced into marrying someone against your will. You may be physically threatened or emotionally blackmailed to do so. It is an abuse of human rights and cannot be justified on any religious or cultural basis.

It’s not the same as an arranged marriage where you have a choice as to whether to accept the arrangement or not. The tradition of arranged marriages has operated successfully within many communities and countries for a very long time.

(Definition from the Foreign and Commonwealth office)

Both 'honour crimes' and forced marriage are forms of domestic violence.

Forced Marriage (civil protection) Act 2007 came into force on 25th November 2008

Recommendations on future work on forced marriage and so-called 'honour' crime

CPS pilot on forced marriage and so-called ‘honour’ crime – findings

Policy for prosecuting domestic violence

The Role of The Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service is the government department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales, we are responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police
  • determining any charges in more serious or complex cases
  • preparing cases for court
  • presenting cases at court

Find out more about the role of the Crown Prosecution Service

CPS response to the Daily Telegraph's claims about honour-based violence


A version of this letter appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 11 November 2016


Your thinly sourced article ['CPS afraid to tackle honour crimes', 7 November], presents a wholly inaccurate picture.

The CPS makes charging decisions in every instance without sway to political correctness or any other outside influence. Our role is to examine the evidence, decide whether it is sufficient to present to a jury, and then prosecute if it is in the public interest to do so.

We have devoted considerable effort to improving the prosecution of honour-based crimes, including the implementation of a new CPS Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage Action Plan. Our experience, and that of stakeholders, has shown that it is often difficult for witnesses and complainants in these cases to support a prosecution from beginning to end. They are, understandably, often reluctant to criminalise their families, and can feel isolated. This is why it is so important to provide support all the way through a police investigation and prosecution.

Despite these complexities we have seen our highest ever volumes of forced marriage referrals, charges and prosecutions.

The specific case highlighted by Detective Sergeant Singh in your article was carefully considered and dealt with. The case simply could not have been brought due to both evidential and witness issues. Crucially, the evidence provided to us by the police did not support a charge of forced marriage and the trial could not go ahead without the complainant's evidence. The CPS must and will not prosecute a case if it does not comply with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, regardless of the views of anyone - including a  police officer - or to "send a message to a community".

Jenny Hopkins

Chief Crown Prosecutor and Violence Against Women and Girls (VaWG) Champion for the CPS


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