Everyone needs to be able to spot the signs when young women are being threatened by their own families, a specialist Northamptonshire Police officer has warned.
The Chron reported earlier this week that there are 180 victims at risk of forced marriage or honour-based abuse in Northamptonshire in the last five years.
Although many of the perpetrators are either originally from Asia or are descendants of Asians, DI Richard Tompkins, of the police’s vulnerable people department, said it would be a mistake for everyone else in the county to believe such threats will not affect them.
He said: “Perhaps your family is never likely to threaten you in that way, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you.
“If you can spot that they are showing signs or suggestions of being abused, or that they’re frightened, knowing about the issue can help you encourage them to seek help.”
Northamptonshire Police said the pressure arising from forced marriages - women either in them or fearing them - can ultimately lead to murders.
The crime is bracketed under ‘honour-based violence’ because the root of it is often the feeling that a relation has harmed the family honour by trying to break with an approved relationships.
New laws have recently come into practice that prevent parents taking a child of any age out of the UK in order to enter them into a forced marriage.
Nonetheless police still expect to have to thwart attempts by families to enforce their own culture on girls living here.
DI Tompkins said: “We had one incident in Northamptonshire last year where a family from out of the county travelled here and tried to kidnap a young girl.
“They dragged her by her hair and tried to take her away in the car.
“It was only some bystanders who spotted how stressed she was that stopped them getting away.”
Northamptonshire Police shortly after helped to catch the would-be kidnappers after they fled out of the county.
DI Tompkins said: “The problem isn’t any worse here than other areas of the country but it’s still very serious and can end in the loss of a life.”