Police speak to 5000 people at UK airports as part of action to prevent female genital mutilation
Police forces were deployed at major airports across England and Scotland at key dates this summer to educate passengers about the law on female genital mutilation (FGM), to safeguard those who may be at risk and identify any victims of the practice.
Ten forces from across England and Police Scotland took part in an operation focusing on specific flights over the summer break to identify women and girls at risk of FGM. Officers were also looking out for signs of forced marriage, breast ironing, and trafficking. Selected flights were targeted at the start of the summer break in July and again in early September.
Officers dedicated over 34 days throughout both stages of the operation. Outbound engagement focused on educating passengers about the law relating to FGM, making clear it is illegal even when committed abroad and identifying and safeguarding vulnerable children with partner agencies. Officers targeted inbound flights to reinforce messages and look out for those who may have been victims and arrest offenders. Posters and literature were visible throughout airports during the operations.
Police spoke to nearly 5000 people in total. 33 children were referred to safeguarding services following concerns around FGM or other issues. Two offenders were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit child cruelty. The girl travelling with them was taken into police protection.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Honour-based Abuse, Forced Marriage and Female Genital Mutilation, Commander Mak Chishty:
“We know that over the extended school holiday young girls are taken to countries where the practice of female genital mutilation is prevalent to have the procedure. We have targeted key flights to prevent more girls becoming victims of this awful practice.
“By talking to families and young girls we hope to empower them so they understand the law and feel they can speak up either now or in the future. We are also there to send a strong message to anyone considering playing any role in this that we are taking proactive action to protect victims and tackle offenders whoever they may be”
Notes to editors –
During the outbound operation, 3141 people were spoken to and 12 children safeguarded. The inbound operation saw 1693 people spoken to and 21 children safeguarded.