A special operation has been taking place at Heathrow Airport today, in a bid to try and raise awareness and prevent forced weddings.

Specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Continuous Policing Improvement Command and Boarder Force carried out a ‘proactive operation’ today to raise awareness surrounding the dangers of forced marriages.

A 'proactive operation' has been carried out at the airport today, where specialist teams carried preventative and detection work in relation to inbound flights that have travelled to or from 'countries of prevalence' for forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and honour based abuse and breast ironing.

Allen Davis, Inspector of the Met’s Rape and Harmful Practices Partnership Team said: “Forced marriage is a crime that has devastating consequences.

“Unfortunately, it remains a hidden harmful practice and we need to change that and normalise conversations about it.”

Arranged or forced marriage - which is illegal in the UK, is a process whereby one or both spouses do not, or in the case of some people with learning disabilities, cannot, consent to the marriage.

Victims of arranged marriages are usually threatened, bullied, abused or coerced into getting married.

The operation at Heathrow Airport is also part of the national Operation Limelight, a multi-agency safeguarding operation at the UK border that focuses on harmful practices.

Amanda Read MBE, Border Force National Lead for Safeguarding and Modern Slavery said: “No one should be forced to marry or be subjected to abuse such as FGM, and Border Force is determined to play its role in protecting potential victims.

“Operation Limelight is a great example of Border Force working with law enforcement colleagues to tackle these abhorrent threats.”

A spokesperson from the NSPCC added: “Coercing or forcing children into marriage is illegal and can involve physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

“Sometimes children are, understandably, too frightened to speak up because they believe they have no control over the situation, and they worry they will get their family into trouble or be disowned by their parents.

"But it’s so vital that they do speak up. We want them to know that they can always talk to Childline, no matter the hour, and there is always a counsellor ready to listen and to help.”