Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee report on a national action plan to tackle female genital mutilation (FGM), Cllr Lisa Brett, Lib Dem lead member on the LGA Safer Communities Board, said:
“FGM is child abuse and local authorities are determined to work with their communities to end the practice. Councils are already supporting local champions who make the case for stopping the practice of FGM. However, their work to change long-standing cultural practices is made more difficult when community or religious leaders continue to promote it.
“The Serious Crime Bill needs to be amended to address this issue by making it a criminal offence to encourage or promote the practice of FGM, not just the physical act of an individual assisting or carrying out mutilation. This is a necessary step in bringing cases against those who support FGM, even indirectly, and to help change attitudes towards this practice within communities.
“Councils will not hesitate to intervene when they feel that a girl is at risk from FGM and work closely with the police, schools and health partners to try and recognise the signs as early as possible. Whilst encouraging everyone in the community to report any situations they are concerned about, there then needs to be a proper assessment of risk to the child, rather than taking a blanket approach of placing every family under supervision.”