Failure to report cases of FGM to the police will become a disciplinary offence, under new legislation released today.
The law will only apply to cases in girls aged 18 or under. The law will only apply to cases in girls aged 18 or under. This is due to concerns raised during the consultation phase of the proposals that the legislation could deter women from seeking medical advice and assistance. If a case is confirmed, the professional who discovered it will have a month to report it to the police, or could face disciplinary sanctions.
Under the amendments to the Serious Crime Bill, cases where FGM has been visually confirmed or disclosed by the victim must be reported to the police. If a nurse or midwife fails to do so, they could be subject to disciplinary sanctions and Fitness to Practice actions from the NMC. The measures apply to all health and social care workers, as well as education staff.
Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the RCM, said: 'These developments are very welcome and are major steps forward in the effort to stop this abuse of girls and women. This is a bold step by the government and one of a number of measures which has seen the drive to end FGM in the UK become a priority.'
Dr Peter Carter, the RCN's chief executive, said: 'It's vital that everyone working with girls and young women at risk of FGM knows that it is abuse and are prepared to treat it as such. The Government's focus on mandatory reporting is an important step towards ensuring that nurses, midwives and other health professionals act as they would with any suspected abuse and report it.'
The government has also taken several other measures to combat FGM in the UK, such as providing training on the issue for NHS staff, introducing a prevention programme in the NHS, and updating multi-agency guidelines.
Crime prevention minister Lynne Featherstone, who announced the measures, said: 'FGM is a criminal offence and it is child abuse. It can cause extreme and lifelong physical and emotional suffering and we all have a responsibility to do all we can to put a stop to it.'