“Police authorities across the country must take the lead and play a coordinating role to drive effective multi-agency work to tackle the menace of forced marriage” said Aneeta Prem, lead member on tackling forced marriages for London’s Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA).

Aneeta has championed partnership initiatives in London to generate greater awareness of the new Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 that comes into effect this autumn, and the statutory duty [0]of care it places on all public authorities.

Speaking at a seminar dedicated exploring the police response to forced marriages, to be held in Liverpool on 26 June, Aneeta will outline her vision for a successful partnership approach to tackle forced marriages.

Aneeta said:

“I welcome the legislative changes coming into effect this autumn. They will place a new statutory duty on all public bodies, including police authorities in their roles of overseeing police service delivery, directing resources and agreeing priorities, to work together more effectively to tackle forced marriages. This is an issue of safety – for a minor it’s a child protection issue for adults it’s an issue of supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“However, I also know concerns have been raised that no single organisation is taking a lead to ensure that all relevant partners are working in a coordinated, systematic multi-agency approach to delivering appropriate services. I firmly believe that police authorities should see this change in legislation as a significant opportunity to take the lead and drive forward a coordinated response to ensure effective multi-agency work.”

To illustrate this commitment to making a genuine difference to those who may be affected by forced marriages, the MPA has been working to a ‘4E’ model – Enabling, Engaging, Empowering and Enforcing:

* Enabling: ensuring that the police service is provided with the right resources to deliver, including appropriate training, working with voluntary groups at local level to get their input and developing multi-agency approaches.

* Engaging: ensuring that the right partners, both statutory and voluntary, are included in the training and delivery process.

* Empowering: making sure the MPA reflects our primary objective to represent the needs of our diverse communities, including those most vulnerable so that they feel safe.

* Enforcing: developing the right monitoring and performance management techniques to set the highest standards and ensure we assess the quality of service delivery and the impact it is having.

Working to this model, the MPA has helped the Met by supporting officers and establishing appropriate links with partner agencies. The MPA is proposing this as a template for other police authorities to work to, providing a powerful and unique role to support this important area of work.

In conclusion, Aneeta said:

“This is only one part of a wider MPA programme to tackle domestic violence, forced marriage and so-called honour-based violence in all its forms. I have been working with the Met, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Association of Police Authorities to coordinate cross agency work for some time and think we should all welcome the advent of new legislation as a real opportunity to make a difference.

“The key to success in this area is effective partnerships, pooling together resources such as knowledge, expertise, people and, in some instances, money. The MPA has worked to coordinate delivery in London and we believe our tried and tested approach can be adopted as a best practice template by police authorities and services across the country.”

Source: Metropolitan Police Authority – 25 June 2008