Major Liverpool summit looks at honour crimes amid concern over ‘too few’ prosecutions

‘The Changing Face of Family Law’ takes place at Blackburne House on Thursday, November 23 and is being organised by MSB Solicitors and London legal chambers, 4 Paper Buildings. Tony McDonough reports

Honour crime victims are ‘being let down by the system’ campaigners say

 

Victims of so-called honour crimes such as violent assaults, forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) are being let down by the police, campaigners say.

The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation says just 5% of such crimes are being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The shocking statistic is revealed ahead of a major summit being held by Liverpool law firm MSB Solicitors on the significant changes taking place in family law.

‘The Changing Face of Family Law’ takes place at Blackburne House in Liverpool on Thursday, November 23 and is being organised by MSB in association with London legal chambers, 4 Paper Buildings.

Topics such as international parental child abduction, forced marriage and honour-based violence and radicalisation of children are the topics that will dominate the agenda on the day.

‘Failed by the system’

In recent days a man in London has been been charged with FGM. If he is convicted of the crime it will be the first conviction since the practice was outlawed in 1985.

The number of honour-based offences being reported has soared by 53% since 2014, official figures show. However, the number of cases referred to the CPS for possible charges is at its lowest level for five years.

MSB’s Emma Carey says ‘the law cannot stand still’ on family law issues

 

Diana Nammi, the executive director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, told the Guardian: “More victims of ‘honour’ based violence are coming forward to the police than ever before but worryingly the evidence suggests those seeking justice are being failed by the system.”

In a response the National Police Chiefs Council lead for honour-based violence, Commander Ivan Balhatchet, said these were “complex” crimes and adding the task of persuading frightened victims to speak out made prosecutions more difficult.

Expert speakers

The Liverpool event will bring together aw firms, legislators and leading authorities to raise awareness of and begin to build a framework to tackle these emerging issues.

The line-up of expert speakers already includes:

  • Emma Carey, MSB Solicitors – Welcome and overview of changing family law dynamics
  • Brian Jubb, 4 Paper Buildings – international and parental child abduction as a growing issue
  • Emma Palmer, MSB Solicitors – forced marriage and honour-based violence – signposting a way out for sufferers
  • Chris Barnes, 4 Paper Buildings – radicalisation of children in the context of public law proceedings.
  • Andrew Powell, 4 Paper Buildings – issues around surrogacy

New agenda

Running from 12.30pm to 5.30pm, the conference will examine the challenges that advancing society presents and explore opportunities to set the agenda for change.

Emma Carey, head of family law at MSB and soon to be managing partner, said: “The law cannot stand still. As a profession we have a responsibility to keep ourselves right up to date on how shifts in societal dynamics impacts on our clients.

“With a thoughtfully-developed programme of esteemed speakers, we hope to develop a blueprint to best serve the complex and fast-changing needs of clients in the future and send the message that support is available and accessible.”

Industry leaders

The last 18 months have marked some outstanding achievements for MSB’s family team, who were appointed to the International Child Abduction and Contact Panel by the Official Solicitors Office last year.

They are currently the only North West firm to have made the panel.

4 Paper Buildings is the UK’s largest chambers of family law barristers and is regularly involved in landmark developments in family law and family justice.

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