New guidelines to target families that take young girls abroad to undergo female genital mutilation are being sent to prosecutors by the government.
Ministers want to encourage more action against those who inflict the brutal procedure on their children and relatives amid concerns that the current approach serves as little deterrent.
Female genital mutilation is an illegal procedure in the UK with those convicted risking 14 years’ imprisonment. The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003 also allows for the prosecution of British citizens who breach the provisions of the act and perform the procedure abroad.
But while the law seems strict on paper, it seems to have limited effect in practice. Campaigners say 22,000 girls are at risk each year. However, MPs were this week told that there has yet to be a single conviction, despite 100 investigations being carried out over two years by the Met. By contrast the French authorities have successfully prosecuted in 100 cases.
Outlining the new approach to the House of Commons, the Home Office minister Jeremy Wright said: “There are a number of things we can do. We should look not only to punish those who are responsible for committing these offences but to improve the guidance available to prosecutors so that they can prosecute more often. If there are difficulties with prosecuting, they might be to do with the types of information and understanding that crown prosecutors need to have and later this summer the CPS will therefore be issued with new guidelines to assist.”