Official hits out at social work practice

Social services are putting children at risk because they are not following guidance on forced marriage, a government official claimed last week.

Fauzia Khan, case officer at the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), accused local authorities of failing in their duty to protect children.

Khan, speaking last week at a conference on honour violence, organised by Policy Spotlight, said the unit faced problems with social services staff who “don’t know what to do” when working with victims of forced marriage. “The guidelines are there, read them,” she said.

Guidance for social workers was issued in 2004 by the FMU and Association of Directors of Social Services and is currently being revised.

Hannah Miller, the ADSS lead on forced marriage, told Community Care she had previously asked the FMU to contact her if local authorities did not follow guidance.

She said she would talk directly to children’s services directors if necessary but she had not yet received any complaints from the FMU.

Earlier this year the government decided against making forced marriage a criminal offence, following consultation. But Khan said another option being considered was to make forced marriage a civil offence.

Practice Guidance for Social Workers on Forced Marriage

Further information
Forced Marriage Unit

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