The Royal College of Midwives has welcomed a government “action plan” to improve prosecutions for female genital mutilation.
FGM has been a specific criminal offence in England and Wales since 1985, but no prosecutions have ever been brought.
Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, last week published the action plan following a round-table meeting with experts in September 2012.
It includes gathering more robust data on allegations of FGM, so the scale of the problem can be gauged; identifying what issues have previously hindered investigations and prosecutions; and exploring how other places prosecute the crime.
Mr Starmer 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…needs to know what to do to improve detection rates, strengthen investigations and… to start getting these offenders into court.”
Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery, said: “We warmly welcome the launch of the ground-breaking action plan.
“It concerns me that so many UK midwives are seeing cases of FGM and we need to have good mechanisms in place for midwives to report and take appropriate actions about FGM.”
She added: “We look forward to continuing to work with the director for public prosecutions about the action plan.”
A steering group has been set up to oversee progress on the action plan ahead of Mr Starmer’s next round-table meeting on the issue in summer 2013.