West Yorkshire Police Support Operation Limelight (7 Sep 2018)

West Yorkshire Police has been supporting a national operation at airports and ports across the country raising awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Operation Limelight ran from 24 August to 7 September and West Yorkshire Police was one of 14 police forces involved. The activity in West Yorkshire focused on raising awareness both amongst staff and passengers at Leeds Bradford Airport.

During the operation, airport and cabin crew staff were educated on what FGM is and signs to look out for that a child may be being taken abroad or returning from a trip for the purpose of carrying out this procedure. Police also carried out enhanced activity in public areas of the airport, including putting out messaging on electronic screens, to inform travellers passing through the airport.

Detective Chief Inspector Fran Naughton of West Yorkshire Police's Safeguarding Team, said: "This operation coincided with the end of the school summer holidays - one of the busiest times of the year at Leeds Bradford Airport.

"It is important that people are aware of this abhorrent practice and what they should do if they have concerns for themselves, a friend or family member or any child that they come into contact with.

"Regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales have a mandatory duty to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police; however we know that this offence still remains under-reported. By educating airline and airport staff, we hope this will help increase reporting and in turn prevent girls in the region from being subjected to this mutilation."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "FGM is an horrendous crime and there is absolutely no justification for it taking place. The police and our partners are working hard to help raise awareness and stop this awful activity, but our communities also have a really important part to play in reporting any suspicions. My thanks to Detective Chief Inspector Naughton and her team for this awareness operation at Leeds/Bradford and I share the hope of seeing reporting increased for those who may be affected or need to seek help and advice."

Communities that perform FGM are found in many parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. FGM is illegal in the UK and it is illegal for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have this procedure carried out.

There is no medical reason for FGM and it can in fact cause serious physical and mental harm. It is carried out for various cultural, religious and social reasons within families and communities in the mistaken belief it will benefit the girl in some way; however the practice is not required by any religion and there are no religious texts that say it should be done.

If you are worried that you or someone you know is at risk of FGM or you have already had FGM carried out on you then you should seek help either by calling your local police safeguarding unit via 101, by calling the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or emailing [email protected]

More information about FGM and support available is available on the West Yorkshire Police website at: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/advice/child-protection/female-genital-mutilation/female-genital-mutilation

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019