This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Big rise in cases of forced marriage, Leicestershire police reveal
Police are dealing with more than twice as many cases involving forced marriages as they were last year.
Officers in Leicestershire say the rise shows awareness of the issue has increased, and people have more confidence in coming forward.
The force currently has 84 cases on its system, compared to 38 this time last year.
The figures were revealed yesterday as Leicester hosted a major national conference on forced marriages and honour violence to mark the first anniversary of the introduction of Forced Marriage Protection Orders.
The law enables courts to stop forced marriages, to order people to hand over passports and reveal the whereabouts of a person thought to be at risk, and prevent someone being taken abroad.
It has been used twice by Leicestershire police since it came into force.
Detective Inspector Pete Williams said: "It is a very valuable tool for us to have. It does not involve a criminal case but it can achieve the same ends as that. It can keep someone safe and with their family.
"Not everyone wants their family to face criminal prosecution. They just don't want the marriage."
Justice Minister Bridget Prentice told the conference, at police headquarters in Enderby, how the orders had worked and what still needed to be done.
A total of 86 have been handed out nationally since November last year. The predicted number was "about 50" said the minister.
"That shows just how much this legislation was needed, and how much of a reason there was to have it," she added.