06/06/2012 10:14 BST

Forced Marriage Crackdown To Be Announced By Theresa May.. Will It Become A Criminal Offence?

Plans to crack down on forced marriage will be announced by Home Secretary Theresa May this week, amid speculation that it is to be made a criminal offence.

The government is already committed to criminalising breaches of civil Forced Marriage Protection Orders.

But the Home Office has been consulting on whether forcing someone to marry should be made an offence in its own right in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The consultation, which closed at the end of March, was launched at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron, who said last year that forced marriage was "little more than slavery" and "completely wrong".

"To force someone into marriage is completely wrong and I strongly believe this is a problem we should not shy away from addressing because of some cultural concerns."

There are concerns that criminalising forced marriage altogether could deter victims from coming forward.

But Mr Cameron said in October he was asking Mrs May to consult on the idea and ways to "make sure that such a step would not prevent or hinder (victims) from reporting what has happened to them".

Mrs May is to make an announcement on forced marriages on Friday, but reports that the Government was proceeding with making it a criminal offence were not confirmed by Downing Street or the Home Office.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Forced marriage is an appalling form of abuse and we are determined tackle it.

"That's why we have held a consultation on making it a criminal offence and will criminalise the breach of Forced Marriage Protection Orders.

"That consultation closed on March 30 and we will analyse the responses before announcing the way forward."