"Culture and tradition are not an excuse for abuse" say Thames Valley Police

"Culture and tradition are not an excuse for abuse" say Thames Valley Police
"Culture and tradition are not an excuse for abuse" say Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police is launching phase three of its Hidden Harm campaign today (2/7), reminding people that culture and tradition are not an excuse for abuse.

In the past four years, TVP has dealt with 1,200 cases of honour based abuse* (HBA) however it is likely that many more offences have been committed but have not been reported.

The third phase of the force's 18 month campaign, urges everyone to open their eyes to abuse being committed to 'defend' the perceived 'honour' of a family or community and to report their concerns.

Detective Superintendent Nick John, Head of Thames Valley Police's Protecting Vulnerable People unit, said: "There are a number of different ways honour based abuse can manifest itself. For example, someone may be abused by their family for being in a relationship with a person of the same sex or from a different culture, they may not want to take part in an arranged marriage or they may be simply wearing clothing or taking part in activities not considered 'traditional'.

"The abuse doesn't have to be physical, it can be emotional or sexual and may involve threats of violence, false imprisonment, stalking, forced marriage and in some cases, even murder.

"Honour based abuse is not about religion. It's to do with beliefs and customs and an expectation that an individual should behave in a certain way or they will bring shame or dishonour on their family or the wider community.

"Anyone can be a victim of honour based abuse. This campaign isn't about singling out any particular faith or culture, it's about getting people to understand that abuse in the name of 'honour' is a form of just that - abuse - regardless of the reason behind it.

"It's also about reassuring victims to come forward and talk to us and not to wait until a crime has actually taken place before they do. So called 'honour crime' can escalate quickly, so it's important people understand that there are lots of different ways we can help.

"Our first priority is always to keep people safe from harm. Just because you contact us doesn't mean you're going to be taken away from your family or that they'll be prosecuted."

Over the next two weeks (2 - 15 July) the campaign will aim to raise awareness of this type of abuse and the signs to look out for, as well as building confidence in victims to recognise themselves that they are being abused and can seek help.

There will be lots of activity going on across Thames Valley, from awareness raising via social media channels to local officers carrying out community engagement. The campaign will also use outdoor poster advertising, targeting key locations with the messages, particularly in Slough, Wycombe and Milton Keynes - three of the locations where the highest numbers of HBA have been recorded.

The force will also be supporting the National Day of Memory for Honour Based Killings (14/7).

Please follow the campaign via @ThamesVP on Twitter and the Thames Valley Police Facebook account using #HiddenHarm.

More information on the campaign and honour based abuse, can be found on the Thames Valley Police website -[ http://thamesvalley.police.uk/hiddenharm ] www.thamesvalley.police.uk/hiddenharm.