SUSSEX Police will turning the spotlight this week on honour-based violence and forced marriage among the county’s ethnic community.
Police have said there is not a major problem with this crime in Sussex, but claim that they cannot afford to ignore the issue either.
In the 12 months until last March, police received 20 reports alleging honour-based behaviour in Sussex. Nine of those reports were recorded as crimes, six of which resulted in charges. Already in three of those cases, each involving grievous bodily harm, convictions have resulted.
The other 11 reports which were not recorded as crimes were referred to local charities who police are working with to develop ongoing advice and support.
Detective Sergeant Hari Flanagan, the force’s lead for honour-based violence issues, said; “This is a really complex and sensitive subject, affecting men and women, and we should be wary of drawing general conclusions from any individual cases. There is currently no evidence that Sussex has a specific problem, but no area in this country can assume that it is immune from such problems.
“This can affect any community, but in particular Gypsy, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Turkish, Kurdish, Afghani, African, Middle Eastern, Southern and Eastern European communities are most affected.”
Tomorrow, Sussex Police, working with the national charity Karma Nirvana, will be looking to raise awareness of the issues. The conference will be attended by 150 people including expert police investigators, local authorities and charities. Honour-based violence is a crime or incident committed by someone who percieves that it protects or defends the honour of a family or community.
DS Flanagan added: “Religion is not an excuse for violence of any type in the UK, and the Sussex Police Adult and Child Protection Teams will do everything possible to support and protect victims of honour-based crime.
“This is a form of domestic abuse which we take very seriously, and will continue efforts to tackle it with partners, particularly those who support victims.
“The conference is targeted at police and local agencies who deal with reports of vulnerable people from all communities and we are seeking to develop a consistent and joined-up approach.”
Karma Nirvana is a national organisation which supports victims of forced marriage and honour based violence. It runs the Honour Network Helpline which receives over 500 calls a months from both victims and professionals seeking advice and support. For more information on Karma Nirvana contact their helpline on 0800 5999247, or visit their website at: www.karmanirvana.org.uk