Forced Marriage Legislation

26 JUN 2006

In September 2005 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Home Office published a consultation document entitled 'Forced Marriage: a Wrong not a Right' (see [2005] Fam Law 919). It stated that there was currently no specific criminal offence of forcing someone to marry within England, but the law did not provide protection from the crimes that could be committed when forcing someone into a marriage. The FCO Forced Marriage Unit received 157 responses to the consultation, from across England and Wales as well as from Scotland, and in May 2006 published a summary of those responses. Thirty-seven per cent of respondents felt that the Government should not create a specific offence of forcing someone into marriage. Seventy four per cent of police respondents and all Crown Prosecution Service and Probation Service respondents felt that the existing legislation was sufficient to tackle the issue.Thirty-four per cent of respondents felt that the Government should create a specific criminal offence of forced marriage. Childrens and young peoples services made up the majority of this group.

The Forced Marriage Unit will now discuss the results of the consultation with ministers from both the Home Office and the FCO. They will take a decision on whether or not to create a specific criminal offence of forcing someone into marriage. Once this decision has been made, the Forced Marriage Unit will publish an action plan of how to move forward with tackling the issue of forced marriage. This will include how the non-legislative measures suggested by respondents to this consultation could be used. The Forced Marriage Unit hopes to publish this action plan by the autumn of 2006. See August [2006] Fam Law for the full news article.

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