Applications for forced marriage protection orders (“FMPO”s) made pursuant to s.63A of the Family Law Act 1996 are on the rise: in 2018, the government’s Forced Marriage Unit provided advice or support in 1,764 possible forced marriage cases; a significant increase from the following 1200-1400 cases in 2017. Also in 2018, Family Court statistics indicate that 322 applications were made and 324 orders granted. Despite applications being made by police, who must seek leave to make such an application under s.63C(3) of the Family Law Act 1996, and local authorities, the legislation itself does not provide clear guidance as to how the court should deal with such applications. The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has now done so in Re K (Forced Marriage: Passport Order) EWCA Civ 190.
Two recent cases have required the High Court and Court of Appeal to consider in detail the use by local authorities of different powers contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“ASBCPA”) to limit or prevent protests that have contained a strong religious or moral element. To what extent are the courts prepared to sanction the use of these powers in relation to types of activities that perhaps would not immediately spring to mind when the words ‘anti-social behaviour’ are heard? The answer, in two words, is ‘very prepared’, judging by the decisions in the cases of Dulgerhiu v London Borough of Ealing  EWCA Civ 1490 and Birmingham City Council v Asfar  EWHC 3217 (QB).
The first case concerned a challenge to the imposition by the London Borough of Ealing of a Public Spaces Protection Order. In the second the High Court granted a final anti-social behaviour injunction, sought by Birmingham City Council under section 1 of the 2014 Act. While the cases raise real issues as to the balancing of the Human Rights Act 1998 articles 9, 10 and 11 rights of the ‘protestor’ against those affected by the protests, as will be seen the Courts have had little hesitation in approving or taking action where there was evidence of real harm being caused.
As we head into the next legal term, it is worth noting the pilot scheme that came into effect at the end of July 2018 when some lawyers were downing-tools for a short summer break. The Family Procedure Rules has a new Practice Direction 36H, which sets up a pilot scheme to allow for the following protection orders to be served on the police at a centralised email address:
– Forced marriage protection order under Family Law Act 1996 s63A;
– FGM protection order under Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 under Sch 2, Part 1, para 1(1).
This applies to orders made in the High Court or Family Court between 23 July 2018 and 25 January 2019. Where the court makes a protection order, it must be emailed to the centralised email address created and monitored by the Vulnerability Coordination centre, namely email@example.com.
The link to the practice direction on the justice.gov.uk website does not work (it should be here) but the Law Society have a pdf copy of it here.
In R (on the application of Richards) v Chief Constable of Cleveland Police (UKSC 2017/0090) the Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal against the imposition of a tagging requirement in a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (“SOPO”). The undisturbed judgment of the Court of Appeal in R (on the application of Richards) v Teesside Magistrates’ Court  EWCA Civ 7;  1 WLR 1695 endorses (and perhaps extends) the purpose and effect of imposing qualified restrictions on sex offenders.