Police study finds ‘evidential difficulties’ responsible for disappointing number of forced marriage prosecutions
Recent statistics obtained from several Police forces across Britain have revealed that a ‘lack of evidence’ is responsible for a disappointing number of prosecutions and Court convictions for forced marriage since it was criminalised nearly three years ago.
The June 2014 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act made forced marriage officially against the law in England from then onwards, but a study of seven British police forces said that only ‘a fraction’ of cases have resulted in prosecution since the act came into force, with just one case resulting in a conviction in Court.
West Yorkshire Police were found to have launched the highest number of investigations into forced marriage, with 51 investigations in total, whilst the West Midlands Police force came in second, with 35 investigations.
Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire launched just seven and five investigations respectively.
‘Evidential difficulties’ were found to be one of the greatest factors holding back prosecution, with 35 of West Yorkshire’s 51 investigations dropped due to ‘lack of evidence’.
16 of these were reportedly ‘victim-based’ crimes.
Children as young as eight-years-old were found to be at risk of forced marriage across Britain, with a total of 71 women, children and teenagers guarded by special Court orders in West Yorkshire alone.
Astonishingly, the study found that there has been just one Court conviction under the 2014 Act – involving a 34-year-old male who pleaded guilty to forced marriage and was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment.
The man in question was also found guilty of four counts of rape, one count of bigamy and one count of voyeurism as part of the same trial.