TEES Valley Inclusion Project and its charity the Halo Project, based in Teesside, has filed a “super-complaint” against what it describes as the systemic mishandling of sexual abuse cases by police forces in England and Wales, including Cleveland Police.

The North-East-focused charity, which supports women and girls facing illegal cultural harms, which includes so-called honour-based violence and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, says it is bringing forward the well-evidenced issue of police forces perpetuating what it says is an environment upholding specific barriers for individuals within the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community to report sexual abuse.

The super-complaint details nine key failures in police responses to reports of sexual abuse within the BAME community.

Individually and cumulatively, the charity claims these failures severely damage the effectiveness of police investigations of sexual abuse affecting BAME complainants while also materially denting community confidence in the police’s commitment to properly investigating these serious allegations.

As one of 16 super-complaints bodies in the country and one of only two designated BAME super-complaints bodies within those 16, Halo Project is in a unique position to present the super-complaint, titled: “Invisible Survivors – The Long Wait For Justice,” for which the charity has been collecting evidence and data for several years.

Yasmin Khan, CEO of Halo Project, said: “Our main mission at Halo is to protect and support those facing honour-based violence issues such as sexual and domestic abuse, forced marriage, and FGM.

“This systemic issue in our policing system significantly affects the interests of the public and it must be addressed.”

Filing the report to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMCFRS), the College of Policing (CoP) and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), Halo Project is aiming to work with the police forces to generate change and create a safer environment for both BAME communities and the public at large. Ms Khan added: “Our aim is to work with the police and other bodies to develop a national action plan, based upon the key recommendations within our super-complaint.

“We hope to be working closely and positively with the police and the wider criminal justice system to ensure these recommendations are implemented.”

Halo Project recommends that the police “establish an independent national BAME reference group to include survivors who can identify the key areas of improvement for investigations in the future.

There are approximately 12 reported honour killings per year in the UK with national statistics showing that South Asian females under the age of 24 are two to three times more likely to commit suicide than their Caucasian counterparts. Halo Project aims to raise awareness in order for the victims feel able to seek help at an earlier stage and allow the relevant agencies to intervene more quickly to prevent abuse from taking place.

Halo Project offers support for survivors of FGM, forced marriage, abuse, and honour-based violence.

Their vision is “to eliminate forced marriage, honour-based violence and FGM within society. To change attitudes and beliefs for future generations.”

A spokesperson for the College of Policing said: "The College of Policing has been informed that Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has received a police super-complaint from the Tees Valley Inclusion Project. The College, HMICFRS and Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will now carry out an assessment to determine whether it is eligible for investigation and further updates will follow in due course."