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FGM Protection Orders will strengthen police ability to protect and safeguard those at risk

17 Jul 2015

FGM Protection Orders, which allow the courts to act to protect and safeguard victims and potential victims of Female Genital Mutilation, come into force today (July 17, 2015). The NPCC Lead on FGM, Commander Mak Chishty, has commented.

Commander Chishty said:

"I am very pleased to note the introduction of FGM Protection Orders - a further measure that our police officers can use to protect victims and prospective victims from this harmful crime.

 

“Let me be absolutely clear:  FGM is child abuse, it is a crime and the police service will play its fullest part with other partners to safeguard and protect girls and vulnerable adults, whilst tackling offenders".

 

ENDS

 

Further Information

 

FGM is unlawful in the UK by virtues of the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 as amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015. For the purposes of the criminal law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, FGM is mutilation of the labia majora, labia minora and clitoris. The World Health Organisation has classified FGM into four types:

    1. (i)  Type 1: Clitoridectomy. This involves partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
    2. (ii)  Type 2: Excision: This involves partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the labia are the lips that surround the vagina).
    3. (iii)  Type 3 – Infibulation. This involves narrowing of the vagina opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner or outer labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
    4. (iv)  Type 4 – Other. This involves all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes.

FGM is known by a number of names, including `female genital cutting’, `circumcision’ or `initiation’.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Protection Orders under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 as amended by section 73, Serious Crime Act 2015 commence on 17 July 2015.

FGM Protection Orders protect girls under 18 years but also vulnerable female adults over 18 years too.

Further details regarding FGM can be found be referring to the Statutory Multi-agency Practice Guidelines introduced under section 75 of the Serious Crime Act 2015

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/female-genital-mutilation-guidelines#history

Examples of the types of orders the court might make are:

  •  to protect a victim or potential victim from FGM from being taken abroad;
  •  to order the surrender of passports or any other travel documents, including the passport/travel documentation of the girl to be protected;
  •  to prohibit specified persons from entering into any arrangements in the UK or abroad for FGM to be performed on the person to be protected;
  •  to include terms in the order which relate to the conduct of the respondent(s) both inside and outside of England and Wales; and
  •  to include terms which cover respondents who are, or may become involved in other respects (or instead of the original respondents) and who may commit or attempt to commit FGM against a girl.

Orders may also be made against other people, not named as respondents in the application, recognising the complexity of the issues and the numbers of people who might be involved in the wider community.

Breach of an order is a criminal offence, and the respondent may be arrested if the police believe there is reasonable cause to suspect there is a breach of the order. The offence of breach of an FGM Protection is subject to a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment. As an alternative to prosecution, a breach of an FGM Protection Order can be dealt with through the civil route as a contempt of court, which is punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment.

Under the Act, the following three categories of person can make an application for a FGM Protection Order:

  •  the person to be protected, without leave of the court;
  •  a relevant third party, who can make an application on behalf of a victim or potential victim, without the leave of the court; and
  •  any other person on behalf of the person to be protected, as long as they obtain he court’s permission to make an application.

A court can also make an FGM Protection Order, without application being made to it, in certain family proceedings. In addition, a criminal court can also make an FGM Protection Order, without application, in criminal proceedings for a genital mutilation offence, where the person who would be a respondent to any proceedings for an FGM protection order is a defendant in the criminal proceedings. An FGM Order can also be made in such criminal proceedings to protect a girl at risk, whether or not they are the victim of the offence in relation to the criminal proceedings. For example, the younger sister of the victim of a genital mutilation offence could also be protected by the court in criminal proceedings.

It should be noted that an application for a FGM Protection Order is not an alternative to the work of the police and Crown Prosecution Service investigating and prosecuting crimes. Crimes may be investigated and offenders prosecuted at the same time as an application is made or an order is in force.

Relevant third party

The Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders (Relevant Third Party) Regulations 2015 gives effect to this, enabling local authorities to act as relevant third parties from 17 July 2015. This enables Local Authorities to make an application without first needing to apply for the leave of the court to do so.  This is similar to Forced Marriage Protection Orders