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Commissioner Baird Supports National Day of Honour

14th July 2015

Northumbria Police and its Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird are urging victims of honour-based violence and forced marriage not to suffer in silence.

The plea comes as part of today’s annual national day of remembrance for those killed in honour-based crimes entitled ‘Britain’s Lost Women’.

Forced marriage and honour-based violence are criminal acts but may go unreported because victims are under pressure from family and friends and feel they have nowhere to turn.

However, victims are being urged to speak out and seek help through the police or other agencies that are there to give them much needed support.

Last year, a new law was introduced making forced marriage a criminal offence. To coincide with the new law, Northumbria Domestic and Sexual Violence Champions attended a roadshow to raise awareness of forced marriage and learn how the new law can be used to protect victims.

In addition, Domestic Violence Sexual Assault (DVSA) teams – a dedicated response unit which includes a police officer and a DVSA support worker either from a local refuge or other specialist group – attend calls about domestic violence, including honour based violence, to ensure victims have the support they require.

Commissioner Baird said: “Everyone deserves the right to make their own choices in life, free from violence and intimidation.

“Forced marriage and so-called honour based violence are a fundamental abuse of human rights which must not be tolerated.

“We understand the difficulties people have in making reports to police, particularly when they are subjected to family and cultural pressures, and if they are afraid that if they do speak out, their family will be taken to court.

“It’s so important that victims understand they will be listened to, their concerns will always be taken seriously and their views on what they want to happen will be followed.

“We will continue to work with local organisations who can support potential victims of forced marriage to gain a better understanding of how they can be protected.”

Chief Inspector Deborah Alderson said: “The force recognises the danger, risks and personal conflict associated with forced marriage and is committed to dealing effectively with any report of forced marriage whether it be from a victim directly or a third party.

“Our specialist officers and staff have received training in recognising what support victims need and providing an effective response to instances of forced marriage.  We take care to ensure all cases reported are sensitively and thoroughly investigated.

“The safety of the victim is paramount and we are committed to protecting the vulnerable and ensuring people in our communities are safe from harm.”

Northumbria Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner are raising awareness on forced marriage to a younger audience.

Advice and information on the topic has been added to the force’s youth website Ebeat.