Forced Marriage Becomes A Crime
7:43am 16th June 2014
(Updated 9:05am 16th June 2014)
As of today Forced Marriage is now a criminal offence across England and Wales and Dorset Police say they’re ready to enforce the new law. (16th June 2014).
Dorset Police is encouraging those who believe they are victims or those who suspect an offence is about to take place to come forward and report it.
A forced marriage is where one or both people don't or, in cases of people with learning disabilities, can't consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used.
We spoke to Detective Sergeant Neil Wright from Dorset Police's Domestic Violence Unit about the new legislation.
"Whilst we're not saying this is a huge problem in Dorset, we know there are vulnerable people out there and we wish to engage with those people and make them feel safe- if they report to us then we will deal with their report sensitively, but also we will deal with it in a manner which will hopefully make them feel supported."
"Doesn't necessarily have to be through means of force it can be through words or emotional blackmail if you like. If you think someone is at risk we urge you to report it either to Dorset Police by calling 101, via crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or through the Karma Nirvana's website (an independent charity)."
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “I welcome this new legislation and the need for Dorset Police to be aware of this issue. Research has shown that forced marriage can be a particular issue in areas with a low ethnic diversity such as Dorset, due to lack of knowledge among professionals.
“Dorset Police and Police and Crime Commissioner staff recently took part in a seminar to make them aware of the issues involved. This reassures me that should this crime come to light anywhere in the county it will be dealt with quickly and sensitively.”