Ministry of Justice
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Local authorities and voluntary organisations newly equipped in the front-line fight against forced marriage

The issuing of protection orders for those at risk of forced marriage will be more responsive to the needs of victims under new powers which come into force today.

Local authorities can now seek a protection order for vulnerable adults and children without first having to seek leave of the court.
Forced Marriage Protection Orders can help vulnerable victims in a range of situations depending on what is needed most. These include orders to:

  • prevent anyone entering into any arrangements for engagement or marriage
  • hand over passports to stop someone from being taken abroad
  • stop intimidation and violence
  • reveal the whereabouts of a person.

Failure to comply with an order could lead to imprisonment. Courts are also able to initiate steps to return those already forced into marriage back to the UK.

Eleven voluntary and charitable organisations have also benefited from funding for a pilot scheme providing a dedicated trained adviser to help with the fight against forced marriage. This resource will help them in their role in supporting victims who need to leave home, need support through the court process, and in rebuilding their lives.

The number of applications has already exceeded expectation with 72 orders made as at the end of September.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said:

‘We are cutting legal red tape so that local authorities are empowered to give vulnerable people the protection they need as fast as possible.

‘Forced Marriage Protection Orders are helping victims to tackle intimidation and threats of violence and abduction, sometimes from family members who are difficult to stand up against. More than 72 Orders have helped reduce the suffering of vulnerable people in the last year.

‘Forced marriage is a very personal threat. Voluntary organisations are showing us that the best support and advice has to be very personal too, which is why we are working closely with them to meet victims’ needs.’

The first anniversary of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act is on 25 November 2009.

Notes to editors

1. Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007

2. Response to the government’s consultation on third party applications on behalf of victims of forced marriages

3. The Ministry of Justice is contributing towards the salary costs for trained advisers in the Voluntary Sector Services Pilot to support victims generally and/or with their application for a Forced Marriage Protection Order and to work closely with local authorities and applicants’ solicitors in securing protection for victims, often from their closest family. These started in September 2009 and will last six months.

4. List of county courts where applications for a Forced Marriage Protection Order can be made:

  • The Principal Registry of the Family Division
  • Birmingham Family Courts
  • Blackburn County Court
  • Bradford County Court
  • Bristol County Court
  • Cardiff Civil Justice Centre
  • Derby Combined Court
  • Leeds Combined Court
  • Leicester County Court
  • Luton County Court
  • Manchester County Court Bridge Street West
  • Middlesbrough County Court at Teesside Combined Court
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne Combined Court Centre
  • Romford County Court
  • Willesden County Court.

5. The Voluntary Sector Services Pilots cover 11 out of the 15 county courts designated to hear FMPO applications. These are:

  • ADVANCE covering Willesden
  • Victim Support Havering covering Romford
  • My Sister’s Place covering Middlesbrough at Teesside
  • Karma Nirvana covering Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Blackburn Darwen and District Women’s Aid covering Blackburn
  • Manchester Independent Domestic Violence Adviser Service covering Manchester
  • Domestic and Sexual Violence Unit covering Derby
  • Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid covering Birmingham
  • Staying Put covering Bradford
  • Next Link covering Bristol
  • Women’s Safety Unit covering Cardiff.

6. The Forced Marriage multi-agency practice guidelines provide useful information on the issues around forced marriage, the motives of those who promote it and the consequences for victims.

7. Guidance for local authorities as the relevant third party has been produced and will be available online shortly.

8. A policy paper will be published nearer the time of the first anniversary of implementation of the Act, on 25 November 2009, and to coincide with the annual White Ribbon Day.

9. Contact details and comments from Voluntary Sector Services Pilot areas are available on request. For media enquiries please contact the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 0203 334 3536. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Ministry of Justice's public enquiry unit on 020 3334 3555.

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