Detective Sergeant Elaine Cook has been a police officer for 23 years. Having worked in child protection, serious crime and intelligence she was promoted in February to Sergeant and now manages the Domestic Abuse unit in the south of the county as well as the Honour Based Abuse (HBA) unit.
This morning we have an honour-based domestic incident. A young woman has called police reporting she has been assaulted by her brother. Her family had found out that she has been in a secret relationship with a man and they do not approve.
Our priority is the safety of the girl and we arrange a safe place for her to spend the night. She is shaken, but supportive of our action.
We don’t know who her boyfriend is but we need to consider his safety too. We need his full details so that we can call his local police force to ask them to make sure he is safe. As always, we have to be mindful that his family might not know about the relationship. We find him and the officer receiving the request from his local force is very helpful and tells us to leave it with them. Excellent.
We then have to investigate the allegation of assault.
The search begins for the offender. The woman has told us that he does not live at the family home but he does live somewhere in Luton. She does not know where. I used to work in intelligence so while the other officers look after the woman I set to work using our systems to research the brother but without any luck.
Time is ticking on now. We’re nearing midday and we need to arrange further accommodation for the woman. She cannot return home and she does not have much money on her. She has called all her friends who cannot help. Our hope now is that we find her a place at a refuge. But it is the weekend, which makes it more difficult.
A call to the refuge service tells us two refuges in our region might have space. Where is she safest? Are there any links she and her family have to different areas? Unfortunately one of the refuges is in Hertfordshire which he brother has links to. Our only option is one in north Cambridgeshire. An officer makes the call. Again our luck fails. They have a space for a woman and young child which they cannot give to a single female.
I have no choice but to arrange for the woman to stay another night at the original location. I speak to the on-duty inspector and ask him to authorise payment for this. After explaining the circumstances he readily agrees and our victim is now safe for the next 24 hours.
Shortly afterwards, the brother turns up at the police station!
Response officers visit the family address obtain accounts from those who were present at the incident.
The brother is then interviewed. He denies assaulting his sister and explains his version of the argument. I take the information to the CPS for them to decide whether to charge him with assault.
After a long discussion, the CPS agree to charge. Result.
Time to let the victim know and update the file. It’s Monday tomorrow, so all our services will be available to us to continue our care for the victim to keep her safe for the longer term. She has a long road ahead but we will help her take the first steps to a safer future.
If you or someone you know is a victim of Honour Based Abuse you can report it here or by calling 101, always call 999 in an emergency.