Thames Valley Police is one of three forces criticised in a new report for not passing any key tests on being prepared to tackle honour-based violence.
The force was criticised for failing to address its strategies regarding preparedness for honour-based violence in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
HMIC Inspectors said urgent improvement is needed in the understanding, investigation, and recording of offences in the category, which includes forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Thames Valley Police has acted swiftly to reassure the public and HMIC that it has taken ‘significant’ steps to address concerns highlighted in the report, which was the result of an inspection earlier this year.
A police spokesman said the force recognised the action needed as a result of the damning report.
The spokesman said: “Since the inspection earlier in the year we have taken significant steps to improve our preparedness to respond to cases of Honour Based Abuse, FGM (female genital mutilation) and forced marriage.
“This has included further training for frontline staff so that they can recognise the signs of honour based violence, respond to keep safe those at risk and bring perpetrators to justice.
“We have also invested heavily in working with leading HBV/FM third-sector organisation, Karma Nirvana to deliver in depth training to those in specialist protection roles.
“The nature of these crimes means that they are often hidden. Health, education and social care have a significant role in identifying victims and those at risk and keeping them safe. We are working with our partners across Thames Valley to improve our joint approach to tackling these forms of abuse and encourage victims to come forward in the safe knowledge that they will be listened to, protected and supported.
“The report does note some examples of good practice in Thames Valley, which we are building on. As always, we welcome the recommendations of the HMIC and will review these to see how they can inform further improvements to our response to tackling honour based abuse.”
The presence of honour-based crime in the UK has been exposed by shocking cases such as the killings of Shafilea Ahmed and Banaz Mahmod in 2003 and 2006 respectively.
But in the first inquiry of its kind watchdogs concluded that few forces have have taken all necessary steps to make sure they fully understand the nature and scale of the issue.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “This report clearly shows that Police Forces still do not have this problem under control, or fully understand it. ‘Honour-based’ violence remains in the shadows.”
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