On 16 June 2014 new legislation becomes effective to make forcing someone to marry a criminal offence.

In the light of this change in the law, Sheffield City Council is issuing a fresh call for any victims, or potential victims, of this crime to come forward.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Independent Living, said:

“It is important for people to know that there is help and support available if you are at risk of forced marriage. Our services can give you advice on your options, we can help you to get a Forced Marriage Protection Order and we can help you to find a safe place to stay if you need one.

“We welcome this new legislation, which is highlighting an issue that we know exists in Sheffield. It affects both adults, and children and young people, both male and female with an average of two people a week coming forward to seek support with this issue. We know many others suffer in silence, and we want them to know there is help available.”

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, of South Yorkshire Police, commented:

“We welcome this new legislation and the increased powers that come with it, which will enable officers to help and protect vulnerable people affected by forced marriage.

“South Yorkshire Police works closely with partner agencies and has specially-trained officers in place to aid victims, who can contact us in confidence on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

“Forced marriage is often a taboo subject and can lead to other crimes being committed. We want to stop these from happening and hopefully the new law will encourage people to come forward, not suffer in silence, and bring this issue out into the open.”

Anyone in this situation should call the Sheffield Domestic Abuse Helpline for advice or support on 0808 808 2241, or email help@sheffielddact.org.uk or visit http://www.sheffielddact.org.uk.