Early identification of honour-based abuse

Full report


The project brought together the University of Manchester, West Yorkshire Police, and Karma Nirvana to identify and explore the barriers to supporting victims of honour-based abuse (HBA), gaps in the current provision, and instances of good practice. The overarching aims of this work was to increase the confidence in reporting, improve identification of HBA cases and police responses to them, therefore contributing to a more effective safeguarding of vulnerable victims. Drawing on both qualitative and quantitative data, this research provides a much-needed evidence base to inform police practices, academic enquiry, policy-makers, and other practitioners who may come into contact with cases of HBA.

Key findings

  • Early identification of honour-based abuse is a multi-agency responsibility.
  • Police and practitioners need to be made aware of several subtle indicators that may indicate the presence of HBA and/or Forced Marriage. These can include the victim receiving money to spend on beauty treatments, not being allowed a house key, monitored or restricted use of their mobile phone/social media, and being chaperoned by family members.
  • It is critical that police consider who may be a victim or suspect in HBA cases, as these may incorporate a wider network than initially indicated.
  • Risk assessment is complex, and often lacks consistency. With the changes taking place in this area, it is likely that the assessment of HBA will become more challenging.
  • More consistent and accurate reporting and recording of HBA, including ethnicity and specific type of offence, will strengthen the ability of police forces to gain a better understanding of these cases.
  • The problematic use of Forced Marriage Protection Orders, missed opportunities to pick up on strong and subtle indicators of HBA, and inconsistencies with the use of warnings were all evident when analysing data on missing persons.
  • Responding to HBA can present a number of challenges for the police; being branded as a racist, ascertaining the role of siblings as potential victims or perpetrators, recognising that the issue is not exclusive to the South Asian community, and unpicking complex cases involving networks within and external to families.
  • There are a number of difficulties when having to use interpreters, particularly relating to gender matching, unregulated practice, limited training of interpreters, lack of gender matching, and difficulties in communicating and articulating experiences in a way that is understood by the practitioners involved.
  • Recommendations arising from this project focus specifically on improving knowledge and awareness, and strengthening responses, recording and the risk assessment of HBA.


Authors: Claire Fox, Caroline Miles, Becki Kaur and Rebecca Tipton (University of Manchester), DCI Fran Naughton (formerly of West Yorkshire Police), Nicola Pringle and DCI Dave Cowley (West Yorkshire Police) – July 2019
Further information – Claire Fox (claire.fox-2@manchester.ac.uk)
With thanks to Natasha Rattu and Karma Nirvana for their invaluable support.