In recent years healthcare professionals have become increasingly concerned about children who are at risk from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). As of 31st October 2015, health, social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales must report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police. The Department of Health outlines the Her Majesty’s Government’s stance on FGM as follows:
“In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, FGM is illegal under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (this offence captures mutilation of a female’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris), and in Scotland it is illegal under the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005. Under the 2003 Act, a person is guilty of an offence if they excise, infibulate or otherwise mutilate the whole or any part of a girl’s or woman’s labia majora, labia minora or clitoris, except for necessary operations performed by a registered medical practitioner on physical and mental health grounds; or an operation performed by a registered medical practitioner or midwife (or a person undergoing training with a view to becoming a medical practitioner or midwife) on a woman who is in labour or has just given birth, for purposes connected with the labour or birth (these exceptions are set out in section 1(2) and (3) of the Act).” –Female Genital Mutilation Risk and Safeguarding: Guidance for Professionals
Any British passport holder suspected of being involved with carrying out or facilitating FGM abroad is also liable to prosecution.
Guidelines for Professionals
Where it is suspected that an individual is at risk or serious immediate harm, professionals should immediately report the case to the police by dialling 999.
When you might encounter FGM how to report it
All healthcare professionals must report suspected cases of FGM under all circumstances. Furthermore, professionals do not have to wait for a full clinical diagnosis confirming FGM before reporting it to the police. Teachers and social workers should not be examining girls. However, it is possible that FGM maybe suspected upon assisting a child in the toilet or while changing. Under such cases, teachers and adults must report any suspicions.
If a girl discloses or implies that she has had FGM or is at risk, using the term FGM or any other term such as ‘cutting’, then the adult is under legal obligation to report the case immediately. Reports should be made as soon as possible after a case is discovered (ideally the close of the next working day).
Incidents must be made orally by calling either 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency). You will be asked for your details (name, contact information, job and place of work), details of your organisation’s safeguarding lead (name, contact information and place of work), the girl’s details (name, age/date of birth and address). Please document any reference number or other details you are given by the police.
For further information about how we can train you to safeguard children, visit: www.trainhealthcare.com/safeguarding-children-levels-1/