Naz Shah – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Home Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Naz Shah on 2016-05-03.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of criminalising forced marriage.

Karen Bradley

We made forced marriage a criminal offence in 2014 to better protect victims and send a clear message that this abhorrent practice will not be tolerated in the UK.

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) (a joint FCO and Home Office Unit) leads the Government’s forced marriage policy, outreach and casework. It carries out a range of awareness raising work, including a comprehensive programme of outreach, new e-learning for professionals, and the launch of short film aimed at deterring potential perpetrators. For the financial years 2014-16, the Home Office has allocated £200,000 to the FMU.

Statistics on the number of cases of forced marriage investigated by the police are not collected centrally. The Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) most recent violence against women and girls report shows that the volume of referrals from the police to the CPS with a forced marriage element is going up: from 67 in 2013-14, to 82 in 2014-15. In addition, to date over 1,000 Forced Marriage Protection Orders have been issued to prevent marriages from taking place and to assist in repatriating victims.

We are encouraged by the first conviction secured in June last year, but there is still work to be done. We want to see more victims having the confidence to come forward and being identified by the police. As part of the wider work to improve the police response to so-called ‘honour’ based violence, we will continue to work with the partners to review the implementation of the new legislation and lead efforts to tackle this barbaric crime.