How the police respond to victims of sexual abuse when the victim is from an ethnic minority background and may be at risk of honour-based abuse

Published on: 16 December 2022


On 7 August 2020 we received a super-complaint from the Tees Valley Inclusion Project (TVIP).

This super-complaint is about the police response to victims of sexual abuse from ethnic minority backgrounds who may be at risk of honour-based abuse.

In its super-complaint, TVIP says there are nine features of policing that are causing significant harm to these victims:

  1. Overuse of voluntary suspect interviews.
  2. Failure to consider honour-based abuse as a concomitant safeguarding concern following sexual abuse reporting.
  3. Failure to keep victims informed following the report of sexual abuse.
  4. Failure to provide information during the prosecution process.
  5. Failure to discuss special measures and other protective measures with victims/survivors.
  6. Lack of empathy from the police.
  7. Ineffective and inadequate use of police resources.
  8. Disproportionate focus on community impact.
  9. Failure to understand the retraumatising effect of the prosecution process.

HMICFRS, the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have published a report in response to this super-complaint.

Following this investigation, we have made recommendations to chief constables or equivalents, police and crime commissioners, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

What is a super-complaint?

A super-complaint is a complaint that ‘a feature, or combination of features, of policing in England and Wales by one or more than one police force is, or appears to be, harming the interests of the public’ (section 29A, Police Reform Act 2002).

The system aims to examine problems of local, regional or national significance that may not be addressed by existing complaints systems. The process for making and considering a super-complaint is outlined in the Police Super-complaints Regulations 2018.

Super-complaints provide a voice for designated bodies to raise concerns on behalf of the public. They can include patterns or trends in policing that are, or appear to be, harming the interests of the public.

The College of Policing and the IOPC are responsible for assessing, investigating and reporting on police super-complaints. We have collaborated on the investigation and on drawing conclusions.

Read the report on GOV.UK

Police response to victims of sexual abuse from ethnic minority backgrounds who may be at risk of honour-based abuse

Get the press release

Police response to sexual abuse fails to safeguard victims from risk of honour-based abuse