Marriage age raised in England and Wales to protect children from today
The change in law which has taken effect from today has been hailed a ‘victory’ for survivors
The legal marriage age has been raised to 18 years old in England and Wales in an effort to prevent forced child marriage.
The legal age has been raised from today, Monday February 27th, and 16-17 year olds can no longer marry or enter a civil partnership, not even with parental consent. The change, under the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act, means it is now a crime to exploit vulnerable children by arranging for them to marry under any circumstances whether force was used or not.
The change in law which has taken effect from today has been hailed a ‘victory’ for survivors. This law will also cover ‘traditional’ non-legally binding ceremonies which are viewed as marriage by the parties and their families, the government has said.
The newly effective legislation has been described as a ‘huge leap forward’ in tackling ‘hidden abuse’ in forced marriage. Speaking to ITV, Natasha Rattu, director of the Karma Nirvana charity, which is a member of the Girls Not Brides Coalition, said she hopes there will be better identification and reporting of cases.
She said: “The change to legislation on child marriage is a huge victory for survivors. It is a huge leap forward to tackling this usually hidden abuse and will provide a greater degree of protection to those at risk.
“Last year, the national Honour Based Abuse helpline supported 64 cases of child marriage, representing only a small picture of a much bigger problem. We hope that the new law will help to increase identification and reporting, affording greater protection to children at risk.”
The government’s forced marriage unit dealt with 118 cases where they provided support and advice for victims under the age of 18 in 2021. The Ministry of Justice has said statistics show that forced marriage is more likely to affect girls than boys, with figures for England and Wales in 2018 revealing that 28 boys married under the age of 18 compared with 119 girls.
Justice secretary Dominic Raab has said perpetrators will face the ‘full force of the law’, with someone found guilty of arranging under-age marriages potentially facing a prison sentence of up to seven years, saying: “This law will better protect vulnerable young people, by cracking down on forced marriage in our society.”
“Those who act to manipulate children into marrying under-age will now rightly face the full force of the law,” he added.
Conservative MP Pauline Latham, who introduced the Bill in Parliament in 2021, said Monday is a ‘landmark day for the campaigners who have worked relentlessly for over five years to ban child marriage in this country’. She added: “Child marriage destroys lives and through this legislation we will protect millions of boys and girls over the coming years from this scourge.”
Safeguarding minister Sarah Dines said the Government is working to ensure that, as well as the new law, training and guidance will be provided to equip police, social workers and other frontline professionals to help ‘support and safeguard victims’.
Doggy soft play with bouncy castle and ball pools is reopening ‘bigger and better’
It’s set to be ‘bigger and better’
A doggy soft play area is preparing to reopen its doors in Greater Manchester for the new season and will be ‘bigger and better than before’.
Bark N Bounce doggy daycare is set to reopen its doors next month at its site in Boothstown near Worsley, Salford. From Saturday April 1st, it will be offering stay and play sessions, birthday parties and breed meet-ups for puppies and dogs — a huge hit with owners.
It also offers a place to stay at the site’s Keepers Boarding Kennels to have a run around, as owners can book a play session as part of their pet’s stay.
The indoor and outdoor ball pools are hugely popular among the pet pooches, but there’s plenty more to keep them entertained including an 18 ft bouncy castle with slides, tunnels and more for the doggos to explore and enjoy.
The venue first opened as a secure outdoor field area in 2019, but later expanded with a 90ft indoor section too — allowing the animals to play in all weathers while their owners could keep dry too.
Now, as it’s all set for reopening for the spring and summer, some new additions are also being added, including a drinks trailer and some outdoor seating so that the human customers can enjoy a drink and a snack while their dogs are busy playing.
Owner Harley Chester said: “We’ll be opening from April 1st and can’t wait to see customers old and new. We’ll have all the equipment that the dogs love, including the bouncy castle, ball pools, tunnels and slides and are adding a few extra bits that we think people will love.”
There are less weekend slots available for private bookings this year, meaning priority will be given to people with five or more dog bookings, with the remaining slots going live on the website from the end of March.
You can book on the stay and play group sessions, or book for private hire, for either just your dog, or your dog and their friends. Group Sessions cost £15 and run for 90 minutes. Private sessions and birthday parties cost £20 for up to two dogs, with additional dogs at £10 each. These run for 55 minutes.
You can add extras including personalised banners, party hats, mini party bags, and a mini buffet. You will find Bark N Bounce at Keepers Cottage, Vicars Hall Lane, Boothstown, Manchester M28 1JA.
Hero cop that jumped in freezing River Irwell to save drowning man receives bravery award
‘We are there to protect people, to save people’
A hero Greater Manchester cop who saved a man’s life from drowning in a river has received an honour.
PC Mohammed Nadeem bravely dived 8ft into the freezing River Irwell in February 2018 to rescue a man in distress from the fast moving water. He stayed in the water with the man until a ladder was lowered down to retrieve them.
PC Nadeem had only joined the Greater Manchester Police force, in Bury, just a few months earlier and was still a student police officer at the time. He earned the nickname ‘The Hoff’ for his selfless and heroic act, and after the name stuck, he even received praise from the Baywatch star himself.
David Hasselhoff recorded a special video for PC Nadeem for when he received the award at the national Police Bravery Awards. The heroic copper was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery — And features on this year’s Civilian Gallantry list — the last to have been handed out in the name of the late Queen Elizabeth.
A summary of PC Nadeem’s brave actions was released ahead of the awards ceremony, which read: “On Saturday February 17th 2018, police received a call of a distressed male on a bridge over the River Irwell.
“The situation was particularly sensitive as the man, wanting to take his own life, was a veteran in a poor mental state. Several officers were deployed and on arrival the man had jumped into the water and was clearly in difficulty.
“PC Nadeem, on seeing the man had gone beneath the water, jumped into the River Irwell to save him. He jumped from an 8-foot drop, wearing body armour and personal safety equipment as there wasn’t time to remove these items in case the man drowned.
“The water was fast moving, deep and very cold. The man was swimming away from the officer in the direction of an incredibly dangerous weir, as he was intent on drowning. PC Nadeem caught up with him, grabbed him and dragged him to the side.
“Both the man and PC Nadeem were suffering the effects of the freezing cold, but nevertheless, due to the difficult egress, PC Nadeem remained in the water with the man until a ladder was lowered down to assist them in getting out.”
Speaking at the time, he said: “I thought this person might not survive, so I jumped into the water to save him. Somehow I managed to get to him and bring him to a place of safety. I wouldn’t say I’m a good swimmer, especially in deep flowing water.
“But saving him is the best feeling in the job. We are there to protect people, to save people.”
After the awards were announced, Oliver Dowden MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “We all hope we’d react with courage in the face of danger. These people have lived through that test, and responded in the most admirable way.
“Their selfless actions have saved lives, and I want to express profound thanks for their willingness to put themselves in danger to protect others. They are all extremely worthy winners of the final Civilian Gallantry awards of Her Majesty the late Queen.”
Manchester club slammed for ‘hiring dwarf actor to play leprechaun’ on St Patrick’s Day
The actor has appeared in the Harry Potter movies as well as Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes series
A Manchester club has been met with criticism for hiring a dwarf actor to dress as a leprechaun for St Patrick’s Day.
Plans to feature a dwarf actor playing the role of a leprechaun at Cargo for its St Patrick’s Day party have now been scrapped following a backlash. The Printworks, home to Cargo, also stepped in to ensure the leprechaun element was pulled from the party which is being held today, Friday March 17th.
Students on a WhatsApp mailing list set up by the party’s promoter DNA Events Manchester were sent a message earlier this week with details of the event, which read: “This Friday we are hosting Manchester’s biggest Paddy’s Day event at Cargo.
“There’s a huge club dressing, plenty of Irish hats and handouts and we’ve got our own dwarf leprechaun that will be going round the venue taking pictures all night.”
The flyer for the event called ‘Rumour Paddy’s Day Special’, also featured a cartoon rendering of a leprechaun above a model wearing an ‘Irish hat’.
One Salford University student who received the message — who is from Ireland and did not wish to be named — told the Manchester Evening News: “Obviously this is highly offensive. I’ve suffered high levels of racism, which doesn’t seem to be held in the same regard as other kinds of racism in the UK. And this stereotypical leprechaun business is just ridiculous.
“Obviously it’s been much discussed among university students who are Irish, and I know I’ve received several messages from people saying ‘oh my god, have you seen this? It’s horrible’. People saying ‘I cannot believe that’s real’. I was shocked but not surprised when I saw it. This kind of causal racism toward Irish people in the community is nothing new, particularly around this time of year.
“From my experience as an Irish person living in Manchester, I have suffered regular mocking of the accent and culture of where I am from and this sort of attitude has really impacted my experience living in the UK. There appears to be an expectation as an Irish person that we will laugh it off or tolerate treatment that would not be accepted by other ethnic groups which is really concerning in this day and age.”
Manchester Councillor Pat Karney told the Manchester Evening News: “I thought we had left this Irish stereotyping behind us years ago. This is truly pathetic and an insult to every Irish person. I hope they withdraw this insulting nonsense.”
In a statement about the previous plans for the event, Jason Shay, centre director at Printworks, said: “We were just as shocked as everyone else when we heard about the meet and greet element of this event, which is being delivered by a third party events promoter at one of our tenants.
“We have worked quickly, alongside our tenant, to ensure that it was pulled immediately. We strongly felt it went against our values of being inclusive and doing things the right way.”
In a statement, DNA Events said: “We’re aware that there has been some negative press in regards to one of our DNA events being promoted as part of our Big St Patrick’s Day Weekender activity, specifically in relation to our engagement with a dwarf entertainer as part of our Rumour Friday Special event.
“DNA have worked with Greg from the Minimen agency for over a decade, alongside hundreds of other entertainers from all backgrounds and disciplines to provide the highest calibre of entertainment and showmanship. We’re proud to work with a wide diversity of performers and we have the utmost respect for Greg and his profession.
“That being said, we also understand the importance of listening to our customers and making sure that the entertainment we do provide is done with sensitivity towards the issues of race and culture, alongside those of inclusivity and diversity.
“As such, we have taken the decision to cancel this element of the show while we consult with all of our entertainers, agencies and performers to ensure that we are promoting these important values which form the backbone of our business.”
In a further statement to the Manchester Evening News, actor and performer Gregory Doherty — who has appeared in the Harry Potter movies as well as Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes series — was originally booked to play the leprechaun for the event. He said: “As you can imagine with a name like Doherty I am of Irish descent.
“Both my parents are Irish and I carry an Irish passport. I am incredibly proud to be of Irish heritage. I do not consider dressing up as a mythical creature offensive/or a racial slur against the people of Ireland.
“Not sure if you’ve ever travelled to Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day, but the iconography of a leprechaun is as iconic as a shillelagh or a shamrock.
“I am sure these Irish cultural icons would not be considered ‘offensive’ or a slur against the Irish people. Of course, I cannot speak for all of the Irish living in Manchester, but I suspect you are listening to a vocal minority.
“The problem with cultural icons like George and the Dragon [or] wearing Viking helmets [or] dressing up in a kilt on feast days and holidays – it’s not really the iconography of the image, it’s the people wearing them. It’s the association with drunk and disorderly behaviour. That is what people are offended by.”