Group helps women to combat honour crimes

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A TOTAL of 37 women got support while experiencing problems with honour-based violence in the county last year.

Between April 2011 and March 2012 37 women were supported by organisations under the County Refuge Group, which includes Northampton Women’s Aid, Wellingborough and East Northants Women’s Aid and Nene Valley Christian Family Refuge. In total, six of these women were referred from north Northamptonshire.

On Wednesday a conference took place at Northamptonshire Police’s Wootton Hall headquarters in Northampton on the issue. The conference was organised by the countywide Honour Based Violence Group in partnership with Northamptonshire Against Domestic Abuse.

Professionals like teachers and health visitors were invited to the conference and were schooled in what signs to look for to identify a potential victim of honour-based violence.

Detective Inspector Andy Glenn, chairman of the Honour Based Violence Group, said: “It can range from somebody being forced into a marriage or being the victim of a serious assault to somebody being harassed or intimidated by other family members.”

Mr Glenn said police had kept accurate records on this type of crime since 2008 and since then officers had received more than 100 referrals. “We also think that it’s significantly under reported. We have noticed as we have raised the profile of this type of crime, people have become more confident and we have seen an increase in reports.

“Our priority is really making the victim safe. It isn’t about police prosecuting people. On some occasions, that might be the right thing to do with serious offences, but our priority is to work with the victim and support them.”

Mr Glenn said most of the referrals had come from the Asian community but the force had had referrals from the traveller community and from the African community.

Chris Starmer from the County Refuge Group said: “There are barriers to the victims talking about it. Sometimes these women don’t have English language skills, some also don’t have leave to remain in the UK. There’s lots getting in the way and they have no recourse to public funds.”