Police and Suffolk Refugee Support join to tackle female genital mutilation

Tim Passmore has vowed to tackle FGM

Tim Passmore has vowed to tackle FGM - Credit: Archant

Police in Suffolk have said tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and sexual abuse is a key priority, and have vowed to take a “zero tolerance” approach to the issue.

Last week’s Sexual Abuse and Violence Week brought the issue to the fore, while Saturday marked International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

FGM, or the cutting of a girl’s genitalia for non-medical reasons, is a crime in the UK, and officers have highlighted the need to spot the signs of those who going through the abuse.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has vowed to ensure joined up working with organisations to stop the practice.

“This is an abhorrent, illegal practice which is often hidden and unreported.

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“Nationally we need to have a far better understanding of this terrible crime and adopt a zero tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

“We need to work together to stop this serious harm happening in our society and give victims the support they need.”

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Estimates by the World Health Organisation suggest that up to 140million women may have been victims already, with around 65,000 girls in the UK thought to be at risk.

Suffolk Refugee Support has launched a campaign to stop FGM and put an end to the longer term side effects, which can include excessive bleeding, broken bones and child birth issues.

Nadine Lusher, FGM project worker at Suffolk Refugee Support, said: “People find it uncomfortable talking about it, but awareness might mean people are more comfortable to say yes to treatment.

“It’s quite a sensitive issue, and some worry because they think it’s a cultural practice.

“People often think they don’t know what to do, but they can come and see us and get some advice.”

As a result of wider exposure to the practice, officers have set up processes to help treat victims and investigate those who carry out the abuse.

Detective inspector Jim Gooding, Suffolk police lead for honour-based abuse, said: “There is now an established process in place that allows regulated health and social care professionals and teachers to complete their obligations of mandatory reporting of ‘known’ cases of FGM in under 18s which they identify in the course of their professional work directly to the police.

“There are currently no convictions in the UK, however we work hard to link in with partners to put safety plans in place for individuals at risk and carry out investigations where appropriate.”

To find out what services are available for FGM sufferers, contact Suffolk Refugee Support on 01473 400785 or Suffolk police on 01463 613500.

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