Much more needs to be done to support survivors of female genital mutilation and protect girls at risk, as the latest statistics reveal there are 11 newly recorded cases of FGM in England every day.
The National FGM Centre, run by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, says the figures released by NHS Digital show there is still a long way to go before the practice is wiped out in the UK.
The quarterly statistics, which were released yesterday (March 6) show there were 1,030 newly recorded cases of FGM in England during the period October to December 2017.
That is a slight decrease from the 1,060 newly recorded cases in the previous quarter, July to September 2017. A year ago (October to December 2016) there were 1,268 newly recorded cases.
The NHS Digital figures show that in 20 cases the practice had been undertaken in the UK.
The most common time when FGM was undertaken was between the ages of 0 and 10, accounting for 77 per cent of the total number of cases where the age at the time of being cut was known.
Head of the National FGM Centre, Leethen Bartholomew, said:
“Whilst we are making progress in tackling FGM, today’s figures show it is still being practiced in communities across England.
“The Centre’s remit is to help eradicate FGM for girls and women living in England by 2030. Our work towards preventing the practice includes working with girls and their families, raising awareness in schools and communities, and training professionals like social workers and teachers to spot girls at risk of FGM and know how to report it.
“Agencies must also work better together to prevent FGM from happening by identifying girls at risk and helping to prosecute those who fail to protect girls from this type of abuse.”
Councillor Simon Blackburn, chair of the Safer and Stronger Communities Board at the Local Government Association, said:
“The latest statistics show just how important the work of the National FGM Centre is. It is concerning that there were more than 1,000 newly recorded cases, including 20 cases where the procedure was undertaken in the UK.
“It is vital that health trusts and GP practices continue to submit FGM data to help build reliable and accurate figures reflecting the prevalence of FGM across the country.
“In the areas where the National FGM Centre is working, social work provision to girls and families affected by FGM has been quickly and significantly improved through the intervention of the Centre’s social workers, who are embedded in council safeguarding teams. Hundreds of referrals have been received in areas that previously only recorded a handful of cases each year.
“The Centre’s pioneering prevention and intervention work is having an effective impact on reducing FGM by modelling good practice, sharing expert knowledge and building trusting relationships with families and communities with which they are engaged.”
The National FGM Centre tackles the problem through innovative social work helping girls, their families and affected communities, and also through training and education programmes.
It opened in 2015 working in pilot sites across England to support girls who are at risk of FGM, as well as those who have undergone the procedure. Specially trained social workers are embedded in local authorities to help the girls and their families.
Now the National FGM Centre is expanding its services into other areas, including London.
The Centre also runs training programmes to help professionals like social workers, teachers and doctors, realise when a girl is at risk and how to report this to the police.