Female genital mutilation (FGM) Legislation, policy and guidance

FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985. In 2003 it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation. 

Legislation

Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 as amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015

The Female Genital Mutilation Act was amended by section 73 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 to include FGM Protection Orders. An FGM Protection Order is a civil measure which can be applied for through a family court. The FGM Protection Order offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM under the civil law.

Breach of an FGM Protection Order is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, a breach could be dealt with in the family court as a contempt of court, carrying a maximum of two years’ imprisonment.

Who can apply for an order?

  • The person who is to be protected by the order
  • a relevant third party (such as the local authority); or
  • any other person with the permission of the court (for example, teachers, health care professionals, police, family member).

FGM Protection Orders are unique to each case and contain legally binding conditions, prohibitions and restrictions to protect the person at risk of FGM. These may include:

  • confiscating passports or travel documents of the girl at risk and/or family members or other named individuals to prevent girls from being taken abroad
  • ordering that family members or other named individuals should not aid another person in anyway to commit or attempt to commit an FGM offence, such as prohibiting bringing a “cutter” to the UK for the purpose of committing FGM.

The court can make an order in an emergency so that protection is in place straightaway. FGM Protection Orders came into force on 17 July 2015 and apply to England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, as amended by section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 , has introduced the legal duty for regulated health and social care professionals and teachers to make a report to the police if:

  •  they are informed by a girl under the age of 18 that she has undergone an act of FGM

or

  • they observe physical signs that an act of FGM may have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18.

The duty does not apply where a woman over the age of 18 discloses she had FGM when she was under 18.

The duty only applies in cases where the victim discloses. If someone else, such as a parent or guardian, discloses that a girl under 18 has had FGM, a report to the police is not mandatory. However, in these circumstances disclosures should still be handled in line with wider safeguarding responsibilities.

Complying with the duty does not breach any confidentiality requirement which might otherwise apply.

Professionals should make the report as soon after the case has been discovered. Best practice is within 1 working day, but in exceptional cases there is a maximum timeframe of 1 month from when the discovery is made.

If professionals fail to comply with the duty, this will be dealt with in accordance with existing performance procedures in place for each profession.

(Home Office, 2015)

View the Serious Crime Act 2015

Mandatory reporting

Section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 amended the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 to introduce the legal duty for regulated health and social care professionals and teachers to make a report to the police if:

    • they are informed by a girl under the age of 18 that she has undergone an act of FGM

or

    • they observe physical signs that an act of FGM may have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18.

For details on what is required of professionals, see Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation: procedural information
(Home Office, 2015) in the guidance section below.

View Section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015

Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

Practising FGM in the UK has been a criminal offence since 1985 (Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985). The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 repealed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1985 Act and revised it to set the maximum penalty for FGM to 14 years' imprisonment and make it a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to:

  • perform FGM overseas
  • take a UK national or permanent UK resident overseas to have FGM.

It came into force on 3 March 2004 and applies to England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

View the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

 

 

Legislation

Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 as amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015

Protection Orders
Section 73 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 amended the Female Genital Mutilation Act to include FGM Protection Orders. 

An FGM Protection Order is a civil measure which can be applied for through a family court. The FGM Protection Order offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM under the civil law.

Breach of an FGM Protection Order is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, a breach could be dealt with in the family court as a contempt of court, carrying a maximum of 2 years’ imprisonment.

Applications for an Order can be made by:

  • The person who is to be protected by the order
  • a relevant third party (such as the local authority)
  • any other person with the permission of the court (for example, teachers, health care professionals, police, family member).

FGM Protection Orders are unique to each case and contain legally binding conditions, prohibitions and restrictions to protect the person at risk of FGM. These may include:

  • confiscating passports or travel documents of the girl at risk and/or family members or other named individuals to prevent girls from being taken abroad
  • ordering that family members or other named individuals should not aid another person in anyway to commit or attempt to commit an FGM offence, such as prohibiting bringing a “cutter” to the UK for the purpose of committing FGM.

The court can make an order in an emergency so that protection is in place straightaway. FGM Protection Orders came into force on 17 July 2015 and apply to England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

View Section 73 of the Serious Crime Act 2015

Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

Practising FGM in the UK has been a criminal offence since 1985 (Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985). The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 repealed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1985 Act and revised it to set the maximum penalty for FGM to 14 years' imprisonment and make it a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to:

  • perform FGM overseas
  • take a UK national or permanent UK resident overseas to have FGM.

It came into force on 3 March 2004 and applies to England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

View the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

 

Policy

Co-operating to Safeguard Children and young people in Northern Ireland

Replaces the ‘Co-operating to Safeguard Children’ guidance issued in 2003. It provides the overarching policy framework for safeguarding children and young people in the statutory, private, independent, community, voluntary and faith sectors. Outlines how communities, organisations and individuals must work both individually and in partnership to ensure children and young people are safeguarded as effectively as possible.

View Co-operating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland
(Department of Health, 2016)

 

Guidance

Multi-agency practice guidelines: Female genital mutilation 

(Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), 2014)

Download the Multi-agency practice guidelines: female genital mutilation

Search the NSPCC Library Online for more resources on tackling female genital mutilation.

Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005

Practising FGM in the UK has been a criminal offence since 1985 (Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985). The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 repealed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1985 Act and revised it to set the maximum penalty for FGM to 14 years' imprisonment and make it a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to:

  • perform FGM overseas:
  • make a UK national or permanent UK resident overseas to have FGM.

It came into force in Scotland on 1 September 2005.

View the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005

Legislation

Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 as amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015

Protection Orders
Section 73 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 amended the Female Genital Mutilation Act to include FGM Protection Orders.

An FGM Protection Order is a civil measure which can be applied for through a family court. The FGM Protection Order offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM under the civil law.

Breach of an FGM Protection Order is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. As an alternative to criminal prosecution, a breach could be dealt with in the family court as a contempt of court, carrying a maximum of 2 years’ imprisonment.

Applications for an Order can be made by:

  • the person who is to be protected by the order
  • a relevant third party (such as the local authority)
  • any other person with the permission of the court (for example, teachers, health care professionals, police, family member).

FGM Protection Orders are unique to each case and contain legally binding conditions, prohibitions and restrictions to protect the person at risk of FGM. These may include:

  • confiscating passports or travel documents of the girl at risk and/or family members or other named individuals to prevent girls from being taken abroad
  • ordering that family members or other named individuals should not aid another person in anyway to commit or attempt to commit an FGM offence, such as prohibiting bringing a “cutter” to the UK for the purpose of committing FGM.

The court can make an order in an emergency so that protection is in place straightaway. FGM Protection Orders came into force on 17 July 2015 and apply to England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

View Section 73 of the Serious Crime Act 2015

Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

Practising FGM in the UK has been a criminal offence since 1985 (Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985). The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 repealed and re-enacted the provisions of the 1985 Act and revised it to set the maximum penalty for FGM to 14 years' imprisonment and make it a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to:

  • perform FGM overseas
  • take a UK national or permanent UK resident overseas to have FGM.

It came into force on 3 March 2004 and applies to England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

View the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Section 130 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 requires professionals to inform the local authority if they have reasonable cause to suspect a child within the local authority’s area is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect or other types of harm.

This will also apply to cases covered by the mandatory reporting duty set out in Section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 which amended the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

To comply with both duties, professionals who identify cases falling within the FGM mandatory reporting duty will need to make a report to both the police and the local authority.

This came into force in April 2016.

View the Section 130 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015

This Act includes provisions to:

    • improve arrangements to promote awareness of, and prevent, protect and support victims of gender-based violence (including female genital mutilation), domestic abuse and sexual violence
    • introduce a needs-based approach to developing strategies to respond to all forms of violence against women
    • appoint a Ministerial Adviser to improve joint working amongst agencies across the sector.

View the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015

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References