West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner support FGM Awareness Day (3 Feb 2016)

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner and West Yorkshire Police are supporting a national awareness day on Female Genital Mutilation after seeing an increase in cases being reported since new reporting legislation was put into place last year.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is routinely practised in some African and Middle Eastern countries. In some countries up to 98 per cent of young women have undergone the FGM ordeal.

This weekend (6 February) marks the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM with the aim to raise awareness and hopes to eradicate FGM to help millions of women and girls across the world.

Recent research by Equality Now and City University London and published in July 2015 has shown that an estimated 137,000 women and girls with FGM, born in countries where FGM is practised, were permanently resident in England and Wales in 2011 and that 60,000 girls aged 0-14 were born in England and Wales to mothers who had undergone FGM between 1996 and 2010.

On 31 October 2015, new mandatory reporting legislation came into force for health, education and social care workers to report any cases to the police where they discover a child who has been subjected to FGM, including where the child has disclosed to them that it has taken place or they witness any physical signs on the child.

Since the introduction of mandatory reporting, West Yorkshire Police has seen a significant increase in the number of FGM related cases being reported - between 31 October 2015 and 31 January 2016, six reports have been recorded relating to 10 children who had undergone FGM.

In all cases, it has been reported as occurring prior to the children's arrival in the UK and the age of the children ranges from 1 month to nine-years-old. Prior to the introduction of mandatory reporting, police had received only one report prior to 2015 and only 10 reports in 2015, 8 of which were in October.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said:

"FGM is a terrible crime and one that is thought to be very much under-reported nationwide. Raising awareness of the issue is an important aspect in helping to prevent it and to understand the true scale and nature of it, empowering people to come forward and challenge the awful blight of FGM.

"Last year I organised an event where statutory and community partners from across the county came together for the first time to discuss work to prevent FGM and how best to support victims. This event proved that by working together we can make a real difference, and I plan to hold further partnership events so we can continue to raise awareness and educate people about FGM and help prevent people becoming victims of this awful crime."

Assistant Chief Constable, Russell Foster, at West Yorkshire Police, said: "West Yorkshire Police is supporting the national awareness day to help tackle female genital mutilation and view this issue extremely seriously.  In helping to raise awareness of this crime and to demonstrate, how those who have suffered, or at risk, can be safeguarded and also help us identify, track down and deal with offenders.

"It is very encouraging that since the mandatory reporting of FGM was put in place at the end of last year; we have seen a significant increase in reporting of violence and abuse against women and young girls. The multi-agency approach which has been put in place to tackle this issue is helping to protect and support the victims.

"If anyone has any concerns for a family member, friend or colleague they are encouraged to call their local police who are ready to help. Local police officers can be contacted by calling 101 or in the case of emergencies by calling 999."

For more information about FGM and support available, please visit https://www.gov.uk/female-genital-mutilation-help-advice

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019