Responding to the report “Forced marriage, family cohesion and community engagement: national learning through a case study of Luton” by Dr Nazia Khanum OBE, Aneeta Prem, Metropolitan Police Authority lead member on dishonour based violence, said:

“Being forced into a marriage against one’s will is an abuse of basic human rights.

“The police, partners in the criminal justice system, local government and health agencies are determined to tackle the problem, but there still needs to be a national strategy to ensure consistency of service provision across the country.

“Existing legislation only deals with the results of coercion into marriage – beatings, kidnap and, in the worst cases, murder. Police are unable to quantify the full extent of the problem because of the way these crimes are recorded, which leads to difficulties in allocating appropriate resources.

“The MPA endorses the need to raise awareness amongst communities, including good parenting, women’s education and the involvement of communities and faith leaders to make forced marriage a thing of the past, as well as spread best practice.

“Victims, their friends and supporters may be reluctant to approach statutory agencies and larger, national charities, but will go to local community support groups. Unfortunately, these may not have the counseling services and dedicated advice workers to offer support themselves. Consequently, many victims do not have access to services they really need.

“The MPA firmly believes we all have a duty to change attitudes and promote awareness of the rights of all our citizens.”

Source: Metropolitan Police Authority – 12 March 2008