Actions for Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers to whom this guidance is addressed
70. All Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers providing services to victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence need to be aware of the "one chance" rule. That is, their staff may only have one chance to speak to a potential victim and thus, their staff may only have one chance to save a life. This means that all professionals working within statutory agencies need to be aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across forced marriage cases. If the victim is allowed to walk out of the door without support, that one chance might be lost.
71. Forced marriage is a form of domestic, child and adult abuse and should be treated as such. Ignoring the needs of victims is not an option. Cases should be tackled regardless of cultural sensitivities, using existing structures, policies and procedures designed to protect children, adults at risk and victims of domestic abuse.
72. Existing strategic bodies should ensure that their member agencies work effectively using agreed policies and procedures to tackle this issue. This includes local strategic partnerships, local Child Protection and Adult Support and Protection Committees and Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conferences.
Senior management commitment
73. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure their organisation has:
- A lead person responsible for the issue of forced marriage. This is likely to be the person with overall responsibility for protecting children, adults at risk or victims of domestic abuse 9
- Policies and procedures in place to protect those facing forced marriage. The policies and procedures should be in line with existing statutory and non-statutory guidance on protecting children 10, adults 11 at risk and victims of domestic abuse 12
- These policies and procedures should form part of an overall child/adult protection strategy
- Policies and procedures that are updated regularly to reflect any structural, departmental and legal changes
- A named person who has responsibility for ensuring that cases of forced marriage are handled, monitored and recorded properly
Question 11 - Is there any other existing statutory and non-statutory guidance that would be useful to include in paragraph 73? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
Roles and responsibilities
74. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Their staff understand their role in protecting people under threat of, or already trapped in, a forced marriage
- Their staff are familiar with their duties and responsibilities when protecting individuals threatened with or already in a forced marriage
- Their staff know to whom they should refer cases within their organisation and when to refer cases to other agencies
- Frontline staff dealing with cases of forced marriage have access to, and are strongly recommended to consult, the practice guidelines that will be issued by the Scottish Government by the end of 2011
Clear lines of accountability
75. Chief Executives, Directors, lead officers for adult children's services and senior managers should ensure that:
- There is a designated person within the organisation who is accountable for promoting awareness of forced marriage and a designated individual responsible for developing and updating all policies and procedures associated with forced marriage. This is likely to be the person with overall responsibility for promoting awareness of, and updating policies and procedures concerning the protection of children/adults at risk or victims of domestic abuse
- The designated person is a specialist in domestic abuse, adult protection or child protection with existing experience, expertise and knowledge
- There is a senior specialist who has undertaken additional training who can be approached to discuss and direct difficult cases
- There are clear lines of accountability from the frontline staff to senior management
76. Chief Executives, Directors, lead officers for adult children's services and senior managers should ensure that:
- Victims are listened to and they are able to communicate their needs and wishes
- Victims are given accurate information about their rights and choices
- Victims' wishes are considered about the level of intervention they require
- Staff are aware that relatives, friends, community leaders and neighbours should not be used as interpreters or advocates, as they could be amongst the perpetrators of the forced marriage - despite any reassurances from this known person. If it is appropriate to use an advocate then an independent advocate should be sourced
Effective inter-agency working and information sharing
77. Chief Executives, Directors, lead officers for adult and children's services and senior managers should ensure that:
- There are policies and procedures for organisations to work effectively together to protect people facing forced marriage. These procedures are set out in existing child and adult protection guidance
- The procedures include arrangements for sharing information and making referrals including, where appropriate, with the police, social work, health and the UK Government's Forced Marriage Unit
- Staff understand the importance of sharing information with other agencies at the earliest opportunity
- Staff understand the difference between breaking confidence (involving the family without the individual's consent) and sharing information with other professionals to protect the individual from significant harm
- Local Child Protection Committees and Multi-Agency Adult Protection Committees are likely to take a lead role in developing policies and procedures for inter-agency working and information sharing to protect adults and children from harm
78. A dilemma may occur because an individual facing forced marriage may be concerned that if confidentiality is breached and their family finds out that they have sought help they will be in serious danger. On the other hand, those facing forced marriage are often already facing serious danger because of domestic abuse, "honour-based" violence, rape, abduction etc. Therefore, in order to protect the individual, consideration should always be given to sharing information with other agencies such as the police.
79. Consequently, confidentiality, privacy 13 and information sharing are extremely important for anyone threatened with, or already in, a forced marriage. Professionals need to be clear about when confidentiality can be offered and when information given in confidence should be shared.
80. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Staff understand that the individual's confidence and privacy should be respected at all times and that they should not approach family, friends or members of the community without the express permission of the individual as this may place the individual at risk of harm
- All records belonging to individuals facing forced marriage should be kept secure to prevent unauthorised access by those within the broader community who may potentially pass on confidential information to a victim's family
- Records should only be available to those directly dealing with the case
Question 12 - Are paragraphs 78-80 clear on the importance of confidentiality and privacy when supporting victims of forced marriage? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
Staff training and awareness raising
81. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Suitable training and awareness raising is incorporated into existing training within agencies to ensure frontline staff are aware of the issues and know how to respond quickly and appropriately to individuals threatened with, or already in, a forced marriage
- Staff receive updates on the issues surrounding forced marriage and honour-based violence within their existing training on domestic abuse and child/adult protection
- Existing work on social cohesion, equality and community outreach programmes should be used to raise general awareness of forced marriage and the help and support available within the local community
Question 13 - Are you aware of any existing training materials that would be helpful to include in this guidance? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
Monitoring and evaluation
82. In line with existing guidance for protecting children and adults at risk, all agencies should monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their response to forced marriage.
83. This should include data collection such as the number of cases supported, the source of referrals, details about the individual involved such as their age, ethnicity and gender, together with information about the outcome of the case. This data should be used to inform and improve the response to cases of forced marriage within organisations more effectively as well as giving a clearer indication of the prevalence of forced marriage. Organisations should use and, if required, adapt their existing data collection systems to capture information on cases of forced marriage.
Question 14 - Do you think paragraph 83 sufficiently covers the type of information to include in data collection? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
Question 15 - Can existing mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating child protection, adult protection and gender based violence 14(including domestic abuse) be used to monitor and evaluate cases of abuse associated with forced marriage? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
84. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Staff keep clear, concise records of all actions taken and the reasons why particular actions were taken. There should be a recorded agreement of which agency is to undertake each proposed action together with the outcome of each action
- If no further action is to be taken, this should be clearly documented together with the reasons
85. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Staff within the organisation understand the risks facing victims of forced marriage, their siblings and other family members - including the possibility of "honour-based" violence, threats to kill, murder, kidnap, rape, imprisonment and being abducted overseas
- Staff alleviate these risks by undertaking ongoing risk assessments on a case-by-case basis, feeding into multi-agency risk assessment structures to manage any risks identified appropriately
- Their organisational risk assessments are evaluated to ensure that they are appropriate for handling cases of forced marriage - and recognise the potential risk of harm to victims and practioners
- For children, the Getting it right assessment framework should be used to assess the risks (See paragraphs 95-96)
Question 16 - Are existing adult and child protection risk assessment models used by statutory agencies sufficient for assessing risk in cases of forced marriage? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
The danger of family counselling, mediation, arbitration and reconciliation
86. Due to the nature of forced marriage and honour-based violence, some of the underlying principles and themes within existing guidance may inadvertently place young people and adults at greater risk of harm. This includes the belief that the best place for them is with their family and the practice of attempting to resolve cases through family counselling, mediation, arbitration and reconciliation.
87. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Staff have adequate training to understand the danger of family counselling, mediation, arbitration and reconciliation in forced marriage cases or where the possibility of forced marriage is a concern
- Staff understand that in cases of forced marriage, it is important that agencies do not initiate, encourage or facilitate family counselling, mediation, arbitration or reconciliation. Mediation can also place the individual at risk of further emotional and physical abuse
- Staff are aware that, on occasions when an individual insists on meeting with their parents, such a meeting should only take place in a safe location, supervised by a trained/specialist professional with an authorised accredited interpreter present (not from the same local community), as parents sometimes threaten the individual in their other language
- Staff are aware that allowing a victim to have unsupervised contact with their family is extremely risky. Families may use the opportunity to subject the victim to extreme physical or mental duress or take them overseas regardless of any protective measures that are in place
Question 17 - Do paragraphs 86-87 adequately cover the dangers of family counselling, mediation, arbitration and reconciliation? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
Question 18 - Do the "Actions for Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers" outlined in chapter 4 adequately cover all key areas where agencies should have statutory guidance? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?
Protecting children and adults with disabilities
88. There have been reports of children and adults at risk with mental health needs, learning and physical disabilities being forced to marry 15. In the case of children, The law in is straightforward; children do not have capacity to consent to marriage, irrespective of any disability.
89. Some adults at risk do not have the capacity to consent to the marriage and may be unable to consent to consummate the marriage - sexual intercourse without consent is rape. There are various offences under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 that can be committed against a person with a mental disorder.
90. Disabled children and some adults who may be at risk of harm could be vulnerable to forced marriage and its consequences because they may be reliant on their families for care, they may have communication difficulties and they may have fewer opportunities to tell anyone outside the family about what is happening to them.
91. Many of the measures for protecting disabled children and adults who may be at risk from forced marriage are the same as those for children and adults without disabilities. However, disabled children and adults at risk may have particular needs and face challenges which may be substantially different from those encountered by other people facing forced marriage.
92. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that disabled children and adults who may be at risk of harm receive whatever additional assistance and support they require. Good practice in relation to this assistance and support includes:
- Listening to disabled children/adults who may be at risk of harm and making sure they know how to raise concerns
- Meeting the care and support needs of the disabled child/adult who may be at risk
- Ensuring disabled children/adults who may be at risk have access to adults outside the family to whom they can turn for help
- Providing speech and language therapists, providing alternative and augmentative communication aids and providing British Sign Language translators or other appropriate support needs to facilitate communication
- Providing training and raising awareness about forced marriage amongst staff that care for disabled children or adults who may be at risk of harm
- Providing an Independent Advocate in cases where the victim lacks mental capacity mental illness - so their needs and wishes are understood and communicated
Question 19 - In paragraphs 88-92, is there sufficient information on how to protect children and adults with disabilities? - YES, NO, or DON'T KNOW?