Local MP launches forced marriage now a crime

Local Lib Dem MP and Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker has launched a new law which will help protect thousands of potential victims by making it a criminal offence to force someone to marry against their will .

New legislation came into force on Monday designed to help people in England and Wales. It also applies to UK nationals overseas who are at risk of becoming the victim of a forced marriage.

Forced marriage can involve physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse including being held unlawfully captive, assaulted and raped.

In 2013, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage to more than 1300 people.

The maximum penalty for the new offence of forced marriage is seven years imprisonment.

Law enforcement agencies will also be able to pursue perpetrators in other countries where a UK national is involved under new powers defined in legislation.

It will still be possible for victims to seek enforcement for breach of a forced marriage protection order by way of the civil court’s contempt powers as an alternative to reporting the breach to the police.

Norman says: Marriage should be about two people deciding they want to live together because they love each other. To force someone in to marriage to a person they don’t want to be with against their will is a corruption of marriage. Moreover it is in effect a life sentence for the person forced to marry, who at worst will then become a domestic servant by day and a sex slave by night. Forced marriage has no place in a civilised society and no cultural explanations can justify its use. I am therefore delighted to launch this new law on behalf of the coalition government”.

Local MP launches Football United Against Domestic Violence

Local Lib Dem MP and Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker has supported the launch of Women’s Aid national campaign, Football United Against Domestic Violence.

launch of Football United against domestic violence

Football United Against Domestic Violence is a new campaign by Women’s Aid, launched on 10 June, to work with national footballing bodies, sports media, football clubs, the police, players and fans to send a clear message that domestic violence is always unacceptable.

Norman attend the launch event along with representatives of the Premier League, The FA and BT Sport to show their support and sign the pledge:

I stand proudly with Football United Against Domestic Violence to speak out:

  • against all forms of domestic violence
  • against sexist attitudes towards women and girls
  • for healthy relationships for young people
  • for positive role models in the footballing community

Norman says: “This is an important issue that needs the support of the whole community and I am pleased to be able to pledge my support to this campaign.

“To be able to have the footballing community join with this campaign makes a positive difference now to raise awareness and reduce the amount of domestic violence in the future and I would encourage local clubs to sign up to show their support and speak out against domestic violence.

Local MP launches new campaign to protect girls and young women from FGM


Local Lib Dem MP and Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker is launching a new poster campaign today to flag advice and support to protect girls and young women, announced by the Home Office.

Mothers who suspect a girl in their community is at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are urged to call NSPCC’s dedicated helpline for advice and support. Over 200,000 girls under the age of 15 could be at high risk of FGM in England and Wales each year with nearly 66,000 women having experienced FGM.

The campaign is specifically aimed at mothers in Somali, Kenyan and Nigerian communities, which have been identified as having a higher than average prevalence of FGM. Posters will be placed on panels in public toilets across London and seven cities in England and Wales.

The posters will direct mothers and carers to telephone the free, 24-hour NSPCC FGM helpline (0800 028 3550) if they are suspicious a girl they know is at risk of having the procedure. The helpline is available to anyone and people can report this suspicions of FGM anonymously. They can also ask for advice and support if their own child is at risk of FGM. The posters will be sent to schools, GP surgeries, police stations and hospitals around the country so they can be displayed in staff areas.

Norman says: “We need a complete cultural change on FGM and we are working to support communities to abandon the practice themselves.

“Mothers have the power to stop this happening to their daughters and the next generation. Through our new campaign we want them – as well as anyone else who is concerned – to contact the NSPCC FGM helpline in they believe their daughter or a girl they know is at risk

“Political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of preventing and uncovering this terrible form of abuse. The law in this country applies to absolutely everyone.

The campaign will run until August in order to reach communities during the school holidays when most girls are at risk.”

John Cameron, NSPCC Head of Child Protection Operations says: “FGM is a hidden crime and we need to bring it out into the open if we are to end it.

“Encouragingly, we have been contacted by over 200 people since we launched our FGM helpline last year – but we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg and that thousands of children may be vulnerable to abuse.

Last week Norman gave a talk on the subject of FGM to the local branch of Soroptimist International at Beechwood Hall, Cooksbridge.

For further information on this campaign please see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-campaign-calls-on-mothers-and-carers-to-end-female-genital-mutilation

A YouTube video is also available on this campaign http://youtu.be/E0Tm9hyKQdU

Government and National Union of Students work to reduce binge drinking at universities

Seven universities have signed up to a 12 month pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students.

A radical new project designed to tackle the culture of binge drinking at universities across England and Wales has been launched by the government and National Union of Students.

Seven universities have signed up to a 12 month pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students including the University of Brighton.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “Binge drinking at universities is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

“Some students find themselves encouraged to participate in alcohol fuelled activities which can damage health and in some cases spill over into disorder and anti-social behaviour.

“The NUS Alcohol Impact project, backed by the Home Office, will help participating universities to encourage responsible drinking leading to safer and more productive places to study and live.

“Accreditation should become a badge of honour for universities, and another factor which helps promote their world class teaching and research to prospective domestic and international students.”

For more on this please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/alcohol-government-and-national-union-of-students-work-to-reduce-binge-drinking-at-universities