POLICE chiefs have vowed to tackle forced marriages, which becomes a criminal offence in England and Wales today.
A forced marriage is one without valid consent of one or both parties where duress is a factor – either emotional pressure or criminal actions such as assault or abduction.
The maximum penalty for anyone convicted is seven years in jail.
Northumbria Police are launching a campaign to crack down on the crime with a special helpline set up. Posters will also be distributed across the force area to encourage people to come forward, while staff will be getting extra training to help victims.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird – who is behind a regional strategy which includes pledges to tackle forced marriage – said: “We want victims to know they will be listened to, their concerns taken seriously and that their views on what they want to happen will be followed.”
People can contact the police on 101. In an emergency, call 999.
Help is also available via the Angelou Centre, on 0191 226 0394 and the 24-hour Forced Marriage Helpline, 020 7008 0151.