Three teenage girls from Sheffield have become the subject of a court order protecting them from being forced into marriage.
The girls, aged 14, 16 and 18 were deemed to be at risk by their local council, which made an approach to South Yorkshire Police. Concerns were voiced and the force made an application to Sheffield Family Court.
The Forced Marriage Protection Orders (FMPOs) were granted, making it illegal for the girls concerned to either be forced into marriage here, or taken from the UK for the same purpose.
What is a Forced Marriage Protection Order?
A Forced Marriage Protection Order not only prevents forced marriages from taking place, but also provides protection for those already in a forced marriage. The ability for courts to issue these orders was inserted into the Family Law Act 1996 in 2007.
Applications for an FMPO can be made by the person it concerns, a relevant third party or anybody else with the court’s permission. Relevant third party refers to local authorities, the police and anybody else with the power to make a court order application on behalf of somebody else.
Breaking the terms of a Forced Marriage Protection Order is not a criminal offence, but if a power of arrest is attached to the order, anybody suspected of breaching one can be arrested and charged with offences such as kidnap, false imprisonment and threats to kill.
Commenting on the successful application in the case of the three Sheffield girls, Detective Inspector Suzanne Jackson said: “For any female this is horrific, particularly for younger girls or females who have learning difficulties and are unable to consent to long-term arrangements made by parents and family members.
“Thankfully in this case, as a result of the diligence of a member of the local authority, we were able to take the necessary steps and obtain the protection orders.”