Police ‘failing to keep tabs on rising tide of honour attacks’

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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FEARS have been raised that so-called honour attacks on women from ethnic backgrounds are on the increase in Scotland, after figures released by one police force showed a sharp rise in the crimes.

• Lothian and Borders Police dealt with 41 incidents last year alone compared to 31 in the previous two years

Shafilea Ahmed: Victim of honour killing. Picture: PA

Shafilea Ahmed: Victim of honour killing. Picture: PA

• Charges were brought in only seven out of the 41 honour-based attacks last year

Lothian and Borders Police revealed there were 41 cases last year compared to 31 cases in the previous two years combined.

Honour-based violence is inflicted on people, usually women, for bringing “shame” on their family. It can involve beatings, acid attacks, mutilations and murder. The violence can be sparked by what is deemed inappropriate dress, or forming a relationship with someone not approved of by parents.

A number of recent high- profile cases have highlighted the issue, including that of Shafilea Ahmed, 17, from Warrington. Shafilea’s parents were found guilty of her murder last month. Prosecutors said her parents believed she had brought shame on their family.

However, a national women’s charity is concerned not all Scotland’s forces were recording such attacks.

Last night, a spokeswoman for Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Right Organisation, (IKWRO) which conducted the research, said: “Not recording the figures shows a lack of leadership. If they don’t know the scale of the problem, they are not properly equipped to deal with it.

“We found almost 50 per cent of Scottish forces do not give out this information. We are concerned that Scotland doesn’t

really seem to have caught up with the rest of the UK.”

The spokeswoman added: “Police officers need to be trained to recognise the signs when someone goes to them asking for help. If they are not trained, there is the danger of them not believing the woman or going on to try to mediate with the family because they don’t understand the risks.”

The figures given to IKWRO from Scottish forces show that, this year, Central Scotland Police recorded three honour attacks, the same as the previous year; Grampian recorded one case last year and three the previous year; and Dumfries and Galloway had no recorded cases last year, its first year recording these figures.

The charity said Tayside Police had not recorded figures for last year, while Northern Constabulary and Strathclyde said they were not recording such incidents separately. However, a spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police told The Scotsman there had been four such incidents since January this year.

Shakti Women’s Aid, an Edinburgh-based support group said: “Honour based violence

remains largely unrecognised and unreported; very much a hidden problem.”