A charity says critical failures have severely damaged the effectiveness of police investigations of sexual abuse affecting BAME complainants
A Teesside charity has filed a “super complaint” against alleged systemic mishandling of sexual abuse cases by police forces – including Cleveland Police.
Tees Valley Inclusion Project and its charity the Halo Project, based on Teesside, supports women and girls facing illegal cultural harms
This includes honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
The charity says police forces are perpetuating an environment which makes it harder for people in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community to report sexual abuse.
The super complaint details nine ‘key failures’ in police responses to reports of sexual abuse within the BAME community.
It claims these severely damage the effectiveness of police investigations and harms confidence in the police’s commitment to properly investigate serious allegations.
Halo Project is one of 16 super complaints bodies in the country and one of two designated BAME super complaints bodies.
The super complaint is called “Invisible Survivors – The Long Wait For Justice,”and the charity has been collecting evidence and data for several years.
Yasmin Khan, chief executive of Halo Project said: “Our main mission at Halo is to protect and support those facing honour-based violence issues such as sexual and domestic abuse, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation (FGM).
“This systemic issue in our policing system significantly affects the interests of the public and it must be addressed.”
Filing the report to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct, Halo Project says it wants to work with the police forces to create a safer environment for both BAME communities and the wider public.
Ms Khan added: “Our aim is to work with the police and other bodies to develop a national action plan, based upon the key recommendations within our super complaint.
“We hope to be working closely and positively with the police and the wider criminal justice system to ensure these recommendations are implemented.”
Halo Project recommends that the police “establish an independent national BAME reference group to include survivors who can identify the key areas of improvement for investigations in the future”.
It adds: “The project is committed to ensuring the voices within the super-complaint are not forgotten and we learn from their experiences.”
There are approximately 12 reported honour killings per year in the UK with national statistics showing that South Asian females under the age of 24 are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their Caucasian counterparts.
Halo Project aims to raise awareness in order for to victims feel able to seek help at an earlier stage and the relevant agencies intervene more quickly to prevent abuse from taking place.
Teesside Live has contacted Cleveland Police and the College of Policing for comment.