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Police Launch Forced Marriage Crackdown At UK Airports During School Holidays

Police are visiting airports across the country in an effort to prevent children being taken abroad for forced marriages.

Operation Limelight is running over the school holiday period, from 15 July to 19 July, and will see police and Border Force officers visit airports across England and Wales.

They will be training airline staff to identify the signs of forced marriage to boost reporting to the police. Intelligence is also being used to identify victims who are about to leave or have just returned to the UK, police say.

“Forced marriage is a violation of human rights,” said Commander Ivan Balhatchet, the National Police Chief’s Council lead for forced marriage. “The isolation, threats and violence that victims experience means that this is not something that can be tackled by police alone.”

The operation is being run in partnership with children’s charity the NSPCC and the Freedom Charity, which works to eliminate forced marriage.

Commander Balhatchet added: “I urge anyone with concerns around forced marriage, or any other harmful practices affecting our children or vulnerable adults to come forward and tell police. We will treat each individual case sensitively and confidentially.”

Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity said: “We know it’s when potential victims are more likely to be taken abroad by their families to attend a wedding, not knowing that it is their own.

“Once someone is abroad it can take a great deal of effort to get them back to the UK safely and so this operation at airports is vital as it’s the last chance to save someone from a forced marriage.”

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