Stronger sanctions needed for those who fail to report FGM, say MPs

Home affairs committee warns existing disciplinary procedures are “insufficient”

Picture: bbstudio_ada/fotolia

The government should introduce stronger sanctions for social workers and other professionals who fail to report female genital mutilation, a group of MPs has said.

In a report published today the Home Affairs Select Committee said it was concerned that the mandatory reporting duty for FGM – which was introduced last year and applies to social workers, regulated health professionals and teachers – was being seen as optional.

“Existing disciplinary procedures for professionals who ignore the duty on mandatory reporting are insufficient and ineffective and it is unacceptable that some clinicians appear to refuse to accept it as their responsibility,” the report said.

The committee was alarmed by reports that some clinicians “are ignoring the duty of frontline healthcare professionals, social care workers and teachers to record data on FGM incidence”.

Recent figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre found 5,702 newly recorded cases of FGM in the past year.

Finite resources

The committee said police rely on professionals in the education, health and social care sectors to identify the signs of FGM, and warned that “prosecutions will not be possible if we wait for daughters to report their parents to the police, which is unlikely to happen”.

The committee was also concerned that without a “powerful, central co-ordinator”, the finite resources available to tackle FGM will not be well targeted or efficient.

“A single reporting and safeguarding system would be the best approach to removing some of the institutional barriers that presently prevent effective safeguarding and would be a suitable project for a redefined FGM Unit.”

Tim Loughton, interim chair of the Home Affairs Committee, said the committee was “dismayed” there had been no convictions for FGM-related offences.

“When we next review FGM, the new laws against the practice will have ‘bedded in’ and we expect to see a number of successful prosecutions.

“We welcome many of the steps that the government has taken to prevent FGM and our report calls for that work to be enhanced and strengthened with adequate resources and support for frontline professionals and other groups which work directly with practicing communities.”

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