Yasmin Khan, director of The Halo Project, argued that the criminalisation of forced marriage and the build-up to it led to more prosecutions and the decline since then was due to the issue being put on the backburner.
The campaigner, whose national charity supports victims of honour-based abuse, said the decline in prosecutions and convictions stemmed from a lack of awareness about the issue within both the police and the judicial system.
“There is a total lack of awareness among public bodies – the police, local council, health, education, and social services,” she said. “They do not know what signs to look out for and are not asking the right questions. Honour-based abuse causes long-lasting trauma and psychological impacts. We need to do all we can to help victims who are suffering sometimes years and years of abuse.
“We need to break the cycle so they don’t suffer in silence. There are serial offenders of honour-based abuse who have one victim after another in that family.”
A spokesperson for the CPS said: “Honour-based abuse is an incredibly complex crime and we know victims need extra support to help us successfully bring cases to court.
“We have agreed a joint protocol with the police to make sure investigative teams are using best practice and victims feel supported and protected.We can only charge cases that have been referred to us by police but where our legal test is met, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”