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Forced Marriage

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will ensure that all police officers are trained to respond appropriately to complaints about planned forced marriages; and whether they will issue guidance to the courts on suitable sentences for honour killings, marriage coercion and related violence. [HL1647]

The issue of forced marriages and how to respond is covered in the initial police learning and development programme (IPLDP) training material on domestic violence. All new police officer recruits undertake the IPLDP.

In addition, in 2005 the Forced Marriage Unit issued guidance for police officers on dealing with cases of forced marriage. The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act, which received Royal Assent in July 2007, makes provision for these guidelines to be reissued on a statutory footing.

Last year, the Sentencing Guidelines Council consulted on guidance on sentencing for assault which included advice that offences committed in the “context of an attempted honour killing or in an effort to force a victim into an arranged marriage” should have the general aggravating factors “abuse of trust” and/or “abuse of power” applied to the assessment of the level of seriousness, and therefore severity of sentence. Definitive guidelines are in the process of being published. Sentencing for murder is governed by statute (Section 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003) and, as such, no guidance is issued in relation to murder.