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Over 40 FGM cases uncovered in low diversity cities

Release Date: 05 Feb 2016

New figures from Barnardo’s and LGA ahead of Zero Tolerance Day on FGM

Over 40 cases of children at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) were identified over the last three months in towns and cities across England where it was not expected [1].

The largest numbers of cases came to light in towns and cities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex [2] through the work of the National FGM Centre [3], a partnership between Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association (LGA).

One case needed a direct intervention, where a child protection plan was put in place to protect a young girl at serious risk. FGM Centre staff are also pushing for an FGM Protection Order.

Another case involved a young girl who travelled abroad for a longer time and now needs a physical exam to determine if FGM was carried out.   

All of the referrals received by the National FGM Centre involved families with mothers and teenage girls who have already undergone FGM.

Almost 1 in 4 (23 per cent) of referrals included families in need of support. This included regular visits with specialist social workers to support women and girls with FGM, as well as work with dads and brothers to better understand the harmful physical effects and legal consequences of the practice.

Half of the cases needed further investigation to find out if any girls were at risk of FGM.

Almost 70 children and their families [4] were supported as part of the FGM Centre’s ongoing pilot project between October 2015 and January 2016.

Cases involved individuals from various backgrounds, including families from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Guinea Bissau, Malaysia, and Sudan.   

As part of the National FGM Centre’s work, expert FGM social workers go into local authorities to work with staff on FGM cases [5]. They give advice and support to affected families and protect girls at risk by working with the police, courts and other public bodies such as schools and health services.

Celia Jeffreys, Barnardo’s Head of the National FGM Centre, said:

Professionals working in major cities are likely to come across FGM cases. It’s a different story elsewhere, where less diverse communities in smaller towns and cities make FGM uncommon.

Spotting girls at risk or women who’ve already been cut is harder if local authorities don’t always have the necessary specialist skills and knowledge.

Barnardo’s and the LGA are working with councils and the communities they serve to help professionals keep girls safe from this harmful, unlawful practice and to provide the right support to them and their families.

Cllr Lisa Brett, the LGA’s FGM Champion and chair of the FGM Centre’s advisory board, said:

These figures show that FGM affects communities across the country. The FGM Centre’s ongoing pilot project is already helping to improve the social care response to FGM and safeguard girls and women at risk of being cut.

This pioneering project is also providing a more detailed picture of how many women and girls might be at risk, adding to the information on total numbers available from the NHS recorded figures, so support can be better targeted going forward.

Front line workers are increasingly aware of this criminal practice, but it will only be stopped for good if all agencies and communities work together to keeping girls safe.


Notes to editors

For more information about the National FGM Centre visit or follow @FGMCentre on Twitter

[1] The FGM Centre started working in the following local authority areas in October 2015:

  • Essex
  • Norfolk
  • Suffolk
  • Southend
  • Hertfordshire
  • Thurrock

(Essex, Thurrock and Southend are unitary councils, of the same county and therefore count as 3 separate local authorities)

[2] Percentage of cases by local authority:

Percentage of cases by Las

  • Essex 26% (10 cases)
  • Norfolk 28% (11 cases)
  • Suffolk 28% (11 cases)
  • Hertfordshire 10% (5 cases)
  • Thurrock 8% (4 cases)
  • Southend 0

[3] The National FGM Centre is funded by Department for Education’s Innovation Fund

[4] The FGM Centre’s pilot project so far supported 69 children (56 girls, 13 boys) which were part of 41 total referrals received. Figures are up to date as of 31st January 2016.

[5] The National FGM Centre provides direct services to pilot local authorities in the first instance, combining social work services and community outreach, and share this learning nationally through a knowledge hub, consultancy, practice development and training, conferences and workshops.

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