Key Links



Death Penalty


Justice System





Practitioner Links

Domestic Violence

Mental Disorder

Restorative Justice

Sex Offenders

Substance Misuse



News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

September 5, 2005: Forced Marriage - A Criminal Offence?

A public consultation on whether to create a specific criminal offence relating to forced marriage was launched today by Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland and Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Lord Triesman, as part of a range of Government measures to tackle forced marriage. A forced marriage is defined as one where one or both parties are coerced into a marriage against their will and under duress. Duress includes both physical and emotional pressure.

Currently, there is no specific criminal offence relating to forced marriage within the UK. The introduction of a new criminal offence was first proposed by Anne Cryer MP during the passage of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004.

The consultation sets out both the potential advantages and disadvantages of a new criminal offence as well as a number of options for how a new offence might be framed and enforced. The consultation period begins on 5 September 2005 and will end on 5 December 2005, with a summary of responses due to be published by 5 February 2006, and a decision on next steps taken soon afterwards. The consultation document The Forced Marriage - A Wrong not a Right  is available online.

Baroness Scotland said:

“Forced marriage - as distinct from arranged marriage - is marriage without freely given consent. It is an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence which cannot be justified on religious or cultural grounds. Victims come from a wide variety of backgrounds, can be men or women and their marriages may take place both here in the UK or abroad... We recognise that this is an issue with no clear or easy answers. We value the insight and experience of all our partners, and of the individuals who have first-hand experience of forced marriages. We hope that many people will respond to this consultation document and help us to find the right way forward."

Lord Triesman said:

"Today's launch of the consultation sets out both the potential advantages and disadvantages of a new criminal offence as well as a number of options for how a new offence might be framed. We want to learn from the experience and insight of our partners and the individuals and communities affected, and to benefit from their understanding, before making any decisions about the introduction of a new criminal offence.

"The Forced Marriage Unit, the Government’s central unit dealing with forced marriage casework, policy and projects, continues to provide information and assistance both to potential victims and to concerned professionals who are confronted by this abuse."

Arguments in favour of creating a new offence include:

  • The introduction of a new offence could challenge people’s views about forced marriage. This could in turn lead to fewer cases of forced marriage.
  •  A new offence could have a strong deterrent effect. People might not force others into marriage for fear of being prosecuted.
  • The introduction of a new offence could empower young people with more tools to negotiate with their parents.
  • There may be some police officers, teachers and others who don’t know that forced marriage is wrong and that they have the power to tackle it. A new offence could simplify and clarify matters for public sector employees and give them the confidence to tackle it.

Arguments against creating a specific offence include:

  • There is a risk that the fear of their families being prosecuted may stop victims from asking for help. Many victims who ask for help at the moment ask for confirmation that their families will not get into trouble.
  •  Some people think that there are already sufficient criminal offences and protective measures that can be used.
  • Because of the difficulty in collecting evidence and the reluctance of many victims to testify against family members it may be difficult to bring a successful prosecution. This could devalue a new offence.
  • A new offence could disproportionately impact on Black and Minority Ethnic communities and might be misinterpreted as an attack on those communities.
  • Increased risks of prosecution or threat of prosecution would make it harder for victims to reconcile with their families.
  • Increased involvement in criminal prosecutions could be harrowing for victims who wanted to move on.
  • Some people believe there are other better non-legislative means of working within communities to change views and tackle the abuse.

No decision will be reached by the Government as to whether to proceed subsequently with the introduction of a new criminal offence until the consultation period is complete. The Government will publish a summary of the responses to the consultation document within three months of the consultation closing, and will also fund focus groups to examine the issues raised by the consultation.

The Government has also produced guidelines for Police, Social Workers and Education Professionals on dealing with cases of forced marriage.