CAMBS: More than 100 victims of honour-based crimes helped by hotline in first year
MORE than 100 victims of honour-based crime in Cambridgeshire have been helped since the introduction of a special hotline last year. Cambridgeshire was one of four police forces across the country to have an honour-based violence hotline set up in June 2
MORE than 100 victims of honour-based crime in Cambridgeshire have been helped since the introduction of a special hotline last year.
Cambridgeshire was one of four police forces across the country to have an honour-based violence hotline set up in June 2008.
Since its creation the hotline has received 320 calls, 60 per cent of which were from the Peterborough area, and the team have investigated and assisted victims in 119 cases.
Victims have been from a range of backgrounds - including Pakistani, Lithuanian, Algerian and Bangladeshi.
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Det Insp Melanie Dales, who runs Cambridgeshire Police's honour-based violence unit, said: "It is encouraging to know that victims of honour-based violence in Cambridgeshire have had the courage to pick up the phone and ask for help.
"Thanks to their bravery we have been able to prevent a number of women and men from becoming the victims of honour-based crime."
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One of the people to use the hotline was a young woman left fearing for her life in Pakistan. She was held against her will for an arranged marriage, but managed to get through to the hotline and, with the assistance of the Forced Marriage Unit, was rescued.
Det Insp Dales said: "Sadly situations like these are becoming more common and for all the successful arranged marriages taking place there are still a number of men and women being forced into marriage.
"Over the past year we have been in touch with a number of victims of honour-based violence, whether that be a forced marriage or physical and mental abuse by family members."
In another recent Cambridgeshire case a teenager used the hotline after being held a prisoner in her own home by her parents to prevent her from going to university.
With the help of the honour-based violence team she was released from her address and is now free to pursue her academic studies.
Det Insp Dales added: "Everyone should have the choice to make their own life decisions without fearing for their wellbeing and safety."
The `Choice' hotline - 0800 5 999 818 - is run by specially-trained female officers 24 hours a day.
The line is confidential and can be used to report an honour-based crime or get advice about the support available to victims.
It was introduced after research suggested there were a number of honour-based crimes going unreported.
Det Insp Dales said: "Traditionally, a number of so-called honour-based crimes were unreported because the victim didn't feel they could approach police. Since the introduction of the hotline we have seen a notable increase in the number of cases we are investigating."
She added: "I would urge anyone who suspects a friend or relative is the victim of honour-based crime, or if they themselves are a victim, to contact police via the confidential Choice hotline.
"There is no pressure on you to pursue any criminal complaint once you contact us, the team is there to assist you in the way you deem necessary and to ensure the life choices you make are yours and yours alone.