Dr Alan Billings, spoke at a conference on forced marriage – ‘This is not my Destiny’ – held at St Mary’s Conference Centre, Bramall Lane, Sheffield last week.

The conference was organised by Rights of Women and Imkaan in association with Ashiana – groups involved in working to achieve justice, equality and respect for all women.

The Commissioner commended the work done by the groups represented at the conference and said that protecting vulnerable people was one of the priorities in his Police and Crime Plan for the coming year.

He said: “The Police understand the difference between an arranged and an illegal forced marriage. In the last four years, while there had been no convictions for forced marriage, ten Forced Marriage Protection Orders had been issued in the South Yorkshire Police area.”

Dr Billings explained that raising awareness of forced marriage among minority communities was something his office could assist through its contact with faith communities.

The aim of the event was for delegates to share their challenges and experiences.  They want to identify ways in which they can work together, to bring more perpetrators of these crimes to justice in the Yorkshire and Humber region and give greater support and assurance to victims.