PCC Sue Mountstevens and DCI Leanne Pook
Our commitment to end female genital mutilation (FGM) within a generation remains resolute as we continue our efforts to raise awareness and protect girls at risk.
Tomorrow (6/2) marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM and this year’s theme is around aiming to achieve global goals of eliminating FGM by 2030.
FGM is illegal in the UK and it’s also illegal to take a British national or permanent resident abroad so FGM can take place. Those who carry out FGM or help the practice take place can face prison sentences of up to 14 years.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Tackling domestic and sexual abuse, which includes FGM, is a priority for me and I welcome the continued collective effort being made to focus on the issue and help protect the women and girls at risk of this most intrusive and damaging practice.
“Even before the reporting of FGM became mandatory, a lot of work has taken place to train health care professionals and teachers in recognising the signs of this horrific crime. I welcome both the efforts to raise awareness of this form of child abuse and the changes in legislation to safeguard those known and at risk of FGM.
“I am very clear that FGM is child abuse and must be treated as such. We must never lose sight that FGM is a violation of human rights that has lifelong health and emotional consequences. Working together we must eradicate this disgraceful crime for good.”
Following the introduction of new legislation in July 2015, we’ve successfully applied for three interim FGM Protection Orders relating to three young girls in Bristol.
Legal proceedings are still ongoing as we try and make the orders permanent, which will be the first time the Force has successfully applied the new legislation.
Det Ch Insp Leanne Pook, who is the force and South West regional lead for FGM, said: “FGM is recognised as an international violation of human rights. It has absolutely nothing to do with culture or religion and constitutes an illegal and barbaric act of child abuse.
“We’re dedicated to raising awareness about the real human impact of this terrible crime among the general public and professionals working in safeguarding, health and education.
“We’ll use all the tools and legislation at our disposal to protect children at risk and we work with our partner agencies on a daily basis to achieve this, but we’d always prefer to see the prevention of FGM rather than prosecutions.
“There continues to be a significant under-reporting of incidents but we’re unlikely to get to a place where women and girls come forward and self-report offences to us, as we’re talking about entrenched practices and the sensitive issues of family honour and pride.
“The consequences of coming forward will be absolutely profound for the victim so we need to take the burden off them. For me, it’s all about building up a protective multi-agency bubble around girls at risk and I believe this is everyone’s responsibility.”
Since the start of this year we’ve:
- Helped train up to 80 Somerset GPs on FGM awareness and obligations surrounding mandatory reporting as part of an event held at Dillington House in Ilminster
- Trained professionals working in the areas of safeguarding and mental health in Somerset
- Facilitated day-long multi-agency enhanced training commissioned by the Bristol Safeguarding Children’s Board (BSCB)
- Helped train officers and detectives with the States of Jersey Police on how they can use their existing legislation to help children at risk of FGM
- Attended an event organised by Bristol University’s Feminist Society, in conjunction with the Integrate Bristol charity, to increase FGM awareness, which was attended by an audience including trainee teachers and GPs
We’re also attending two key conferences later this month organised by Bristol charities we have close ties with.
On February 20, Integrate Bristol will be holding its annual conference at City Academy School focussing on a range of issues, including FGM.
For the second year running, a workshop devised by DCI Leanne Pook and Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Childen Jackie Mathers will be included at the event. The session offers comprehensive safeguarding training for teachers and other professionals working with children.
More details about the Integrate Bristol event can be found on their website www.integratebristol.org.uk
Six days later, the charity FORWARD, in partnership with Refugee Women of Bristol, will be holding a conference at Muller Hall in Easton to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.
At the event, which runs from 10am to 3pm, the charity will be launching a book highlighting the achievements and challenges of partnership work in Bristol and its Community Empowerment Programme.
For more details of this conference visit the FORWARD website www.forwarduk.org.uk
Posted on Friday 5th February 2016