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Last updated at 13:44 (UK time) 3 Nov 2011

Information for professionals

Our Forced Marriage Unit is committed to raising awareness about forced marriage across the public sector. We provide expert advice to professionals, especially those confronted by it for the first time:

  • We undertake a broad programme of public speaking and outreach work – contact for more information.
  • If a personal visit isn’t possible, we can send you copies of our publications to help you give presentations yourselves.
  • We can also provide training to your staff in how they can help victims of forced marriage.
  • We’ve started an awareness-raising programme for registrars.
  • We have produced multi-agency revised guidelines for frontline professionals - the police, children and adult social care, health, housing and education professionals.

Guidance for professionals

These practice guidelines have been designed to provide step-by-step advice to frontline workers and have been produced to complement the statutory guidance (that came into force with the launch of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act) in November 2008), which sets out the broader strategic responsibilities of Chief Executives and senior managers in tackling forced marriage locally.
The forced marriage multi-agency guidelines cover:

  • the responsibilities and obligations of different agencies working with victims
  • information on protecting, advising and supporting victims
  • information on making referrals to other agencies and where to turn to for help
  • advice and information for practitioners assisting both male and female victims of forced marriage.

You can either download the guidelines [PDF, 503KB, 105 pages] or you can order hard copies by emailing us at (see our publications).

Review of implementation of forced marriage guidelines

We are reviewing how the multi-agency statutory guidance for dealing with forced marriage is being implemented. The consultation period is now closed and we are considering your feedback. After we have concluded the review, we will publish a short report outlining the key findings, including areas where improvements have been identified. The report will be generic in approach and will not name specific areas or agencies within those areas.

If you have any queries relating to the review then please contact the Forced Marriage Unit, by email at or Chaz Akoshile on 020 7008 8759.

Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities: Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines

These new practice guidelines have been developed to assist professionals encountering cases of forced marriage of people with learning disabilities.

The guidance was developed in conjunction with learning disability charities the Ann Craft Trust and the Judith Trust. It is aimed at frontline workers, to help raise awareness of the issue and support practitioners to identify the warning signs of this complex and often hidden practice. The guidelines also set out the steps that practitioners should take when dealing with cases.

You can download Forced Marriage and Learning Disabilities: Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines here.

Forced marriage e-learning training

The FMU has designed an e-learning training package to support professionals, including education, social and health care professionals, police officers, housing officers, the voluntary sector and others dealing with forced marriage in the course of their work. Using real life case studies, the training will give professionals a basic understanding of the key issues surrounding forced marriage, how cases can present and how to respond appropriately. This tool complements the multi-agency practice guidelines for professionals and should be read alongside the training.

Visit the Moodle site:

Every Child Matters

The Department for Education (DFE), formerly the Department for Children, School and Families (DCSF), as part of its Every Child Matters Campaign, has produced materials specifically for schools and young people to raise awareness of the issues surrounding forced marriage and provide information about sources of support.

The materials have been developed in consultation with schools, young people, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations, and are designed to be eye-catching and appealing to young people, with content appropriate to them.

Every Child Matters forced marriage materials and Every Child Matters forced marriages pages

Hard copies of the posters and cards can be ordered from the Forced Marriage Unit by emailing (leaflets are currently unavailable).

Warning signs

Young people rarely feel able to disclose their feelings about forced marriage.  However there are some warning signs that may indicate the possibility of an impending forced marriage:

  • extended absence from school/college, truancy, drop in performance, low motivation, excessive parental restriction and control of movements and history of siblings leaving education early to marry
  • poor attendance in the workplace, poor performance, parental control of income and limited career choices
  • evidence of self-harm, treatment for depression, attempted suicide, social isolation, eating disorders or substance abuse
  • evidence of family disputes/conflict, domestic violence/abuse or running away from home.

A young person demonstrating any of the above may not be necessarily at risk, but if you feel concerned about a potential forced marriage you should contact us on 020 7008 0151.

Policy background

In 2000 we agreed a Joint Action Plan with the Home Office, other government departments, voluntary organisations and the police.  The Joint Action Plan was a response to the report of the working group on forced marriages entitled ‘A Choice By Right’ (PDF).

There was a national consultation on forced marriage in 2005.  Following this the government decided not to create a specific criminal offence of forcing someone into marriage, but to increase non-legislative measures - including more provision of training to professionals.

The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007

The Forced Marriage Act came into force in November 2008. The act gives the courts a wide discretion to deal flexibly with each individual case, employing civil remedies that offer protection to victims without criminalising family members. Further information on Forced Marriage Protection Orders and all the relevant forms can be found at Her Majesty's Courts Service website.