Female Genital Mutilation action plan launched
Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, is publishing his action plan on improving prosecutions for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) following his round table meeting with experts in September 2012.
Keir Starmer QC said: "It's critical that everything possible is done to ensure we bring the people who commit these offences against young girls and women to justice and this action plan is a major step in the right direction.
"Everyone who can play a part in stopping FGM - from the doctor with a suspicion that an offence has been committed and the police officer investigating the initial complaint to the prosecutor taking a charging decision - needs to know what to do to improve detection rates, strengthen investigations and, for the part of the CPS, to start getting these offenders into court. I am determined that the CPS should play a key role in ensuring that the impunity with which these offenders have acted will end."
The action points include:
- gathering more robust data on allegations of FGM, so the scale of the problem can be gauged
- identifying what issues have hindered investigations and prosecutions
- exploring how other jurisdictions prosecute this crime
- ensuring police and prosecutors work together closely from the start of investigations.
FGM has been a specific criminal offence in England and Wales since 1985, but no prosecutions have ever been brought. In September 2012, a round table meeting on prosecuting cases of FGM with more than 30 interested and expert parties was hosted by the DPP at the CPS Headquarters in London including the Association of Chief Police Officers, individual police forces, Members of Parliament, medical professionals, the NSPCC and other third sector organisations.
The DPP has established a steering group to oversee the progress on the action points ahead of his next FGM prosecution round table in summer 2013.
CPS Action Plan
1. Improved national data on allegations of FGM or of persons who maybe at risk of FGM that have been referred to the police. More robust national data on cases referred to the CPS for advice and / or charging decision.
2. Identify case studies from the data to examine emerging issues on why they did not proceed. If no action was taken, why was this?
3. The DPP to raise with Ministers what the existing reporting duties are for medical professionals, social care professionals and teachers in referring possible FGM cases to the police.
4. Explore whether evidence to prosecute offences under other legislation is possible and may be easier to support, such as section 5 Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (DVCVA) 2004, as amended by DVCVA 2012, which creates an offence of causing or allowing a child or vulnerable adult to die or suffer serious physical harm.
5. Explore what evidence is required to support charges of conspiracy to commit or aiding and abetting the offence of FGM.
6. The DPP to raise with Justice Ministers whether current legislation should be reviewed.
7. Examine how other jurisdictions (especially common law jurisdictions) have prosecuted cases of FGM.
8. Explore how other police tactical options might operate and what intelligence could be collated to support evidence gathering for a prosecution.
9. The police and the CPS to develop a protocol for the police to refer all cases of FGM to the CPS for early advice on the lines of enquiry and evidential issues for the police to build a strong case.
10. Discussions with the Department for Education on whether guidance on Working Together to Safeguard Children requires updating for further clarity about FGM.
We are working jointly with the police, other agencies and the third sector to deliver this action plan.