Reporting cases of FGM (female genital mutilation) among children becomes mandatory

Reporting cases of FGM (female genital mutilation) among children becomes mandatory

Posted on Oct 30, 2015

From 31st October 2015, it will be a legal requirement to report any cases of FGM.


A new mandatory reporting duty for FGM is being introduced as part of the Serious Crime Act 2015, which will require health professionals, social workers and teachers in England and Wales to report known cases of FGM in under 18-year-olds to the police.  

The practice of FGM was banned in the UK in 1985. In 2003, the law was strengthened to include the prevention of children travelling abroad to undergo FGM. However, despite this, there has yet to be a successful prosecution in the UK.

John Cameron of the NSPCC has spoken out about the need for more to be done to encourage people to report suspected cases of FGM having taken place or at risk of taking place. Cameron said the fact there had still been no successful prosecution was evidence of the scale of the challenge. The high threshold of proof needed to bring prosecutions against those involved in a process surrounded by secrecy means that people have to be even more alert.

One Month

This new legal obligation will come into force on the 31st October 2015. It will mean that health and social care professionals and teachers will be obliged to report all cases of known FGM in under-18s within 1 month, whether it was disclosed by the victim or seen by the professional themselves. Those who fail to report any cases within a month – unless there are believed to be ‘exceptional’ circumstances involving safeguarding issues (i.e, where your disclosure may result in the child’s immediate danger) - could face serious disciplinary action, or even be at risk of losing their job.

Speaking about the new law recently, Karen Bradley MP, Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation, said that despite increased awareness of FGM and increased police investigations of the crime, “the level at which this abuse is being reported is still dwarfed.

“This means that too many women and girls are still living in silence and are not getting the protection and support that they need.

“We need to ensure that where a serious crime has taken place – one which can have long-lasting physical and psychological harm – the police can instigate an appropriate multi-agency response to protect girls and bring perpetrators to justice."

"FGM is a crime and it is child abuse, and this Government will not tolerate a practice that can cause extreme and lifelong physical and psychological suffering to women and girls.”


What is FGM?

Click the below to watch flick's video that explains what FGM is. 

what is fgm?

 (Please note that no sensitive imagery is shown in this video.)


FGM is the deliberate mutilation of female genitalia. This is often the removal or cutting of the labia and clitoris. The World Health Organization describes FGM as any procedure that injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

UK FGM statistics*

  • It is estimated that 170,000 women and girls are living with FGM in the UK.
  • It is estimated that 65,000 girls aged 13 and under are at risk of FGM in the UK.
  • More than 2,603 women and girls who went through FGM have been treated by the NHS since September 2014.
  • 499 women and girls with FGM were seen in acute NHS trusts in England in January.
  • More than 200 FGM-related cases were investigated by the police nationally in the last five years.

Cutting Season 

Earlier this year in June, Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about the summer ‘Cutting Season’, and the importance to push through new laws aimed at local authorities, social workers or the police. These laws would give the ability to confiscate passports and other travel documents in a bid to prevent girls being taken out of the country during the summer holidays to be subjected to FGM.

It is understood that those organising for girls or women to undergo FGM overseas often choose the summer holidays because this will give them a better chance of recovering from the physical effects of the practice in time to avoid suspicion on their return.


How do I report?

Teachers, doctors, nurses and social workers are now required to report any concerns within one month of their findings. Each job role will require a slightly different approach to disclosure. In all cases, reports under the duty should be made as soon as possible after a case is discovered, and best practice is for reports to be made by the close of the next working day (unless you believe that a report to the police will result in an immediate safeguarding risk to the girl or another child). You should act with at least the same urgency as is required by your local safeguarding processes.


Teachers and Social Workers


For teachers and social workers, there are no circumstances in which you should be examining a girl. It is possible that a teacher, perhaps assisting a young child in the toilet or changing a nappy, may see something which appears to show that FGM may have taken place. In such circumstances, the teacher must make a report under the duty, but should not conduct any further examination of the child


Doctors, nurses and other Healthcare professionals


If, in the course of your work, you see physical signs which you think appear to show that a child has been subjected to FGM, this is the point at which the duty applies. The duty does not require there to be a full clinical diagnosis confirming FGM before a report is made, and one should not be carried out unless you identify the case as part of an examination already under way and are able to ascertain this as part of that. Unless you are already delivering care which includes a genital examination, you should not carry one out. 

In all professions, where you become aware of a case, the legislation requires you to make a report to the police force area within which the girl resides. Reports can either be made in writing, or verbally. When you make a report to the police, you must identify the girl and explain why the report is being made. You are strongly advised to consult colleagues, including your designated safeguarding lead, as soon as possible, and to keep a record of any decisions made. It is important to remember that the safety of the girl is the priority.




It is recommended that reports are given verbally by calling the police on 101 (the single non-emergency number). When you call 101, the telephone system will pinpoint your location and connect you to the police force covering that area. Once you have given the details to the person on the phone (this could be a police officer, or a call handler in the control room), your details will be logged and passed to the relevant team within the police force. You will then be called back.

You should be prepared to provide the call handler with the following information: 


explain that you are making a report under the FGM mandatory reporting duty


your details:

  • name
  • contact details (work telephone number and email address) and times when you will be available to be called back
  • role
  • place of work 

details of your organisation’s designated safeguarding lead:

  • name
  • contact details (work telephone number and email address)
  • place of work

the girl’s details: 

  • name
  • age/date of birth
  • address

You will be given a reference number for the call and should ensure that you document this in your records.

Click here for the full Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation - procedural information document.

Despite being a recognised criminal offence in Britain since 1985, no-one has been successfully prosecuted for performing FGM. It is hoped that the implementation of these new duties surrounding the confrontation of what is a cold and shocking crime will be a resounding success.


For more information, check out this video on FGM by the NHS.




Comment below and share your thoughts on the newly implemented law surrounding FGM and mandatory reporting. Do you think it will help young girls at risk, or push the practice deeper underground? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


fgm free trial


* Source: Home Affairs Select Committee report on Female Genital Mutilation 


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