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About this book

This book examines the different forms that honour-based abuse crimes take and analyses the discretionary police practices employed when responding to these incidents. Honour-based abuse is an incident or crime involving violence, threats of violence, intimidation, coercion or abuse committed in order to protect or defend the honour of an individual, family and or community for a perceived breach of their code of behaviour. Based on unique UK police data, it includes examination of one hundred honour abuse cases and interviews with fifteen predominantly detective specialist police officers that investigate this crime. This book recognises the challenges encountered when policing honour-based abuse and offers recommendations for addressing them. It will particularly benefit police forces in England and Wales, the Home Office, scholars in gendered violence and policing, and non-government organisations (charities supporting victims) by highlighting some of the issues associated with policing, partnership working arrangements and safeguarding victims of honour-based abuse crimes.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
Honour-based abuse (HBA) is introduced as a gendered crime with the control of female sexuality as central. As the study hinges on police discretionary practices, organisational culture(s), socialisation, discretion and storytelling are explored. Whether a monolithic police culture exists is compared against more fluid interpretations of police culture(s).
The challenges of policing HBA are outlined. Cultural aspects distinguish HBA from other “domestics,” presenting additional barriers that impede victims from reporting and prosecuting the abuse. Notably, this is a Muslim-on-Muslim crime; minorities fear racist attitudes from professionals; female perpetration and multiple perpetration feature; honour codes exacerbate difficulties for victims; and perpetrators are ascribed a heroic status. Despite cultural nuances, HBA shares resounding similarities with other forms of violence and should remain within the domestic abuse framework.
Rachael Aplin

2. Methodology

Abstract
This chapter outlines the philosophical approach taken in this research, which is pragmatically oriented and focuses on symbolic interactionism. The application of mixed methods is explored, which involved examining 100 police classified honour-based abuse (HBA) electronic case records (and associated data) authenticated against 15 semi-structured interviews with predominantly detective specialist officers. Mid-sections outline the qualifying criteria and broad demographic of the expert purposive sample of participants involved in the study. The benefits and limitations of both methods are explored, as is the rationale for examining incident records rather than crime reports. Later sections reflect on the key ethical considerations, the use of grounded theory as a means of analysis and the positionality of the researcher as an ex-detective sergeant of 20 years.
Rachael Aplin

3. Distinguishing Truth from Lies: Victims Are Mad, Bad or Consenting

Abstract
This chapter establishes those at heightened risk of HBA and the triggers which precipitate the crime. It distillates the extent to which professionals are influenced by perpetrator narratives. The obscure arena of vulnerable adult abuse is examined and how professionals sometimes deny vulnerability, attributing “freewill” and consent to those lacking capacity. Conversely, the poor mental health of HBA victims is exaggerated by perpetrators, with illogical explanations sometimes left unchallenged by professionals. Findings expose goal displacement and the medicalising of victims. Labels are traded, with perpetrators depicted as reasonable and acting in the “best interests” of victims. Conversely, teenage girls are portrayed as precipitating problems due to their perceived “wayward” behaviour. Whether officers can distinguish “genuine” from “non-genuine” victims and “truth” from “lies” is critically assessed.
Rachael Aplin

4. The Grey Figure of Crime: If It Isn’t Crimed, It Hasn’t Happened

Abstract
Aplin highlights that “cuffing” crimes is an enduring discretionary police practice. Sixty-nine per cent of HBA cases (and 89% of incidents over three years) are not recorded as crimes, despite evidence of criminal offences. In justifying no-crime decisions, officers rely on perceived legalities and formal rules, such as the NCRS requirement for “victim confirmation” of crimes, as well as bias and subjective judgement. Performance target pressures and pre-empting CPS no-charge decisions are also explored. Overwhelmingly, findings illustrate that victim reluctance adversely impacts officer’s no-crime decisions. Manufacturing victim reluctance is effective in validating police inaction and in officers circumventing perceived “wasted workload.” If it is not crimed, it has technically “not happened,” which abrogates officers of responsibilities around investigation, prosecution and safeguarding.
Rachael Aplin

5. Deconstructing Crime Through Language

Abstract
This chapter illustrates dissembling through the craft of language in the incident summary write-up, in which some officers construct an alternative “paper” reality that bears little resemblance to HBA victim narratives. Numerous patterned police practices are identified, such as altering the “crime” by removing key words, presenting information in formulaic compressed closed question format, using language to distort and trivialise the report; sin by omission is a prevalent discretionary practice, as 71% of DASH risk assessments contain incomplete or missing data. The “family dispute” theme and the unwillingness of victims in disclosing offences replicate traditional domestic abuse explanations. Such stratagems dilute or entirely negate the risks to victims, stifle legitimate lines of enquiry, decriminalise cases and wrongly justify officers’ no-crime decisions.
Rachael Aplin

6. Female Perpetration of Honour-Based Abuse

Abstract
This chapter explores the dimensions of abuse inflicted by women, specifically mothers, mothers-in-law and sisters. Abuse is categorised into six themes: violence; violence due to pregnancy; hard and soft psychological abuse; ostracism of victims; women being complicit and turning a “blind eye” to violence. Aplin establishes that mothers play a fundamental role in HBA perpetration. Despite violent acts by women being uncommon, mothers inflict 71.5% (10/14) of the acts of violence. A third of specialist police officers (5/15) had never investigated female perpetrators. Findings show officers failing to record female perpetration in 12% of cases. The extent to which women act under duress or are willing participants in abusing other women is examined. The chapter reconsiders whether professionals should automatically trust mothers to safeguard children.
Rachael Aplin

7. HBA Child Protection and Partnership Working

Abstract
This chapter assesses the efficacy of professional interventions (predominantly police and children’s social care [CSC]) when HBA against children is reported. CSC employ mediation, working agreements and section 20 voluntary arrangements. Moreover, officials attest to making decisions out of deference to victims’ wishes and suggest that perpetrators cooperate with advice imparted during mediation. Yet, these stratagems serve to justify professional decision-making. The impact is that children’s wishes are often overridden; the care system is circumvented; victims are retained with abusers and internal organisational demands are prioritised above children’s best interests. Consequently, despite 64% (14/22) of children being put in police protection (PPP), CSC retained/returned children to risk in 73% (16/22) of cases. The cost of care and extant workloads affect the selective preferences of some professionals.
Rachael Aplin

8. Conclusions

Abstract
This chapter presents conclusions and recommendations to improve HBA policing practices. Police officers do not reflect one monolithic police culture, with classic depictions failing to reflect the complex interactions between victims, perpetrators and professionals. Dominant factors in decision-making revolve around whether the victim was perceived as blameworthy or reluctant to prosecute or whether professionals mistrusted the victim as “non-genuine.” Many of the patterned discretionary practices were functional strategies and centralised on unscrupulous officers providing rationale to decriminalise incidents and support their “no-crime” decisions, which included “accepting” the narratives advanced by perpetrators. The most salient trait was the pragmatism of some officers in their preoccupation with personal workload reduction. The impact left victims, including children and vulnerable adults, exposed to secondary victimisation, under-policed, under-protected and with unmet needs.
Rachael Aplin

Backmatter

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