Posted: Tuesday 8th July 2014
A much needed and long awaited Government report on female genital mutilation (FGM) came out last week. A cross-party of MPs criticised the failure of successive governments to protect vulnerable girls from FGM.
The committee heard from victims, health and social workers, the police, including Avon and Somerset Constabulary and from my office. I was really 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.
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.
I welcome the Committee's recognition that we have a problem in the identification and then referral of FGM in the UK. MPs also said there was a case for emulating the French model by checking up regularly on at-risk children, but they stopped short of endorsing mandatory gynaecological checks. I welcome your views on this, please email me at email@example.com.
FGM is an illegal and violent form of child abuse that has lifelong health and emotional implications. 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. Only the other week my office attended a fantastic event by Integrate Bristol to launch a single and video called #useyourhead. The song is the next part of an innovative campaign by Fahma Mohammed and the young people of Integrate Bristol to raise awareness of FGM.
The video has already had over 10,000 views I would encourage everyone to have a look at it. I cannot help but feel proud of our young people and Bristol on the way it is tackling this issue and raising awareness.
I held my annual meeting in Bristol last week which was an important and timely opportunity for me to stop and reflect on what has been achieved over the past year, what can be done better and what more needs to be done to achieve my long term ambitions.
The confidence local people have in their police service has risen to the highest level ever recorded. Now over 79 per cent of people responding to the 'Crime Survey for England and Wales' feel that they have confidence in Avon and Somerset Police.
Satisfaction levels amongst victims of crime have increased to 89 per cent, again the highest level ever recorded locally.
There is some encouraging performance to reflect on but there is no room for complacency. There is lots of work ahead. I have set out an ambitious programme including the introduction of the new Integrated Victim Care approach, which will support vulnerable victims of crime and anti-social behaviour at every stage of their journey through the criminal justice system. This will keep my team and I very busy over the coming months. And I have no doubt it will make a real difference to the lives of victims of crime.