Midwives have called for renewed efforts to tackle female genital mutilation (FGM) after more than 1,200 cases were recorded across England in just three months, 2% of which were girls under 18.
This includes 11 British-born girls who were identified as being subject to FGM.
Between January and March there were 1,242 newly recorded cases of FGM reported across English healthcare providers, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) professional policy adviser Janet Fyle called on health workers to be “vigilant”.
She said: “These figures show that we need renewed and focused efforts to tackle FGM. This has to be backed by a national action plan so that all sectors and all professionals see FGM as their business, and protecting girls from such abuses becomes a normal part of their practice.
“Every one of these numbers is a girl or young woman who has been subjected to abuse.
“It’s shocking that 29 of the new recorded cases (2%) are girls under 18. It is even more of a concern that 11 of those were girls born in the UK.
“This is why all healthcare professionals need to be vigilant in identifying women and girls at risk. They can then provide them with support and appropriate care and referral, and collaborate in the collection of data.
“Health professionals must report all cases of known FGM in girls under eighteen to the police. It is important that regulated professionals comply with their mandatory duty and legal obligation to report FGM cases.
“These statistics help us to determine where resources are needed, and where more concerted action needs to focus. London in particular needs to make even greater efforts to tackle this issue.”
A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which runs the National FGM Centre in partnership with Barnardo’s, said: “While these figures show new cases of FGM recorded, the FGM Centre’s pioneering pilot project is also providing a more detailed picture of how many women and girls are at risk, adding to the information on total numbers available from the NHS, so support can be better targeted going forward.
“The report states there were seven cases where FGM was undertaken in the UK. While frontline social workers in councils across the country are increasingly aware of the criminal practice of FGM, it will only be stopped permanently if all agencies, including GP practices and communities, work together to keep women and girls safe.”