A version of this letter was published in the Daily Telegraph on Friday 11 November 2016
Your thinly sourced article [‘CPS afraid to tackle honour crimes’, 7 November], presents a wholly inaccurate picture.
The CPS makes charging decisions in every instance without sway to political correctness or any other outside influence. Our role is to examine the evidence, decide whether it is sufficient to present to a jury, and then prosecute if it is in the public interest to do so.
We have devoted considerable effort to improving the prosecution of honour-based crimes, including the implementation of a new CPS Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriage Action Plan. Our experience, and that of stakeholders, has shown that it is often difficult for witnesses and complainants in these cases to support a prosecution from beginning to end. They are, understandably, often reluctant to criminalise their families, and can feel isolated. This is why it is so important to provide support all the way through a police investigation and prosecution.
Despite these complexities we have seen our highest ever volumes of forced marriage referrals, charges and prosecutions.
The specific case highlighted by Detective Sergeant Singh in your article was carefully considered and dealt with. The case simply could not have been brought due to both evidential and witness issues. Crucially, the evidence provided to us by the police did not support a charge of forced marriage and the trial could not go ahead without the complainant’s evidence. The CPS must and will not prosecute a case if it does not comply with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, regardless of the views of anyone – including a police officer - or to “send a message to a community”.
Chief Crown Prosecutor and Violence Against Women and Girls (VaWG) Champion for the CPS