PCC Sue Mountstevens and DCI Leanne Pook
The publication of a report entitled ‘Female genital mutilation: the case for a national action plan’ will include evidence submitted by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens and Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
The Home Affairs Select Committee has today published its report with the recommendation of immediate implementation of a national action plan and specific steps to respond to the growing crisis of female genital mutilation (FGM).
According to the UK Home Office, it is thought that over 20,000 girls under age 15 could be at risk of FGM in England and Wales and around 66,000 women have experienced FGM during their lifetime.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: “I was pleased to submit evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee and it is encouraging to see that a number of issues raised by Avon and Somerset have been included in the final report.
“I welcome the Committee’s recognition that we have a problem in the identification and then referral of FGM in the UK. I am encouraged by the Committee’s recommendations around improving multi-agency referrals and its recognition that existing requirements for reporting child abuse simply are not being applied to cases of FGM. I will be watching the development of the national action plan very closely and hope to see practical steps to improve the reporting and referral of these cases so that we can protect girls in Avon and Somerset and the UK.”
“FGM is an illegal and violent form of child abuse that has lifelong health and emotional implications. This unacceptable act is something that is rarely talked about. We have some really passionate and proactive young people, professionals and community groups in Avon and Somerset and I am proud of their continued efforts in tackling FGM. Tackling Violence against Women and Children is a priority for me as PCC and I have supported and funded a number of campaigns and projects to highlight FGM.”
FGM is the practice of removal or partial removal of a female’s genitalia for supposed cultural, religious or non-medical reasons and is illegal in the UK. Those who are subjected to FGM face the risk of infertility, pain during urination, menstruation, childbirth and sexual intercourse.
Detective Chief Inspector Leanne Pook, the force’s lead officer on FGM, said, “I welcome the publication of the report and the national action plan to tackle this form of abuse. Our overriding priority will always be to prevent girls and women being subjected to FGM and I am determined that we take every opportunity to do this. Implementing a national plan and the recommendations of this report will be a big step forwards. ”
Areas of focus in the report findings and recommendations included prosecuting FGM, professionals in all sectors ensuring the safeguarding of at-risk girls, changes to the law on FGM and better services for women and girls living with FGM.
Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee said: “FGM is an ongoing national scandal which is likely to have resulted in the preventable mutilation of thousands of girls to whom the state owed a duty of care. We owe survivors of FGM the chance to save others from this horrific abuse. Being able to provide anonymous testimony and having a safe place to call home is essential to help eradicate this practice. We must use every opportunity the law allows to give victim a voice.”
To view the report and the written evidence submitted by the Commissioner and Constabulary click here.
In addition, last month PCC Sue Mountstevens gave her support to the Home Office and NSPCC’s poster campaign helping communities to protect girls and young women from FGM.
The campaign sees the launch of a free, 24-hour NSPCC FGM helpline and anyone who is a victim of FGM or has suspicions of FGM activity can report these anonymously by calling 0800 028 3550.
You can find out more about what the Constabulary are doing to tackle FGM here.
Posted on Thursday 3rd July 2014