TRAINING health professionals, teachers and more support for survivors are key to fighting the battle against Female Genital Mutilation in the region.
Those are just some of the initiatives Detective Constable Gillian Squires said she wants to see to happen in the battle FGM in the region.
In 2014 a total of 118 concerns were reported to West Midlands Police – more than double the number reported in 2013.
Speaking to The Observer DC Squires, who works on Operational Sentenial – the campaign set up by the force to combat FGM -said these figures were promising as professionals were recognising the signs and making the referrals to the Police.
She added: “The majority of concerns reported to us are from professionals such as midwives and we have also seen an increase in the number of survivors coming forward as well.
“When a concern is raised it depends on the circumstances surrounding it as to how we react.
“If a midwife refers a case to us we would often accompany social services when they visit mum and baby and we’ll talk to them about what they know about UK law and how FGM is viewed.
“We would also asses any risk to the newborn or any others living in the household.
The Police haven’t been able to prosecute anyone yet as the majority of the cases raised are concerns and they have been dealing with those accordingly.
However DC Squires said if the Police could prosecute a cutter many girls and young women will be saved from having to undergo the ordeal.
FGM is considered child abuse in the UK and is illegal, with a punishment of up to 14 years imprisonment – but it is underreported, despite an increase over recent years in the number of referrals to police.
The procedure is associated with communities in Africa, particularly Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya, as well as some parts of the Middle East.
In a bid to stop FGM happening not only abroad but also across the West Midlands DC Squires said there is a combination of things they would like to see to eradicate the issue.
She added: “Alongside the training for midwives, teachers and other professionals we would like to see people from within the communities speaking out.
“This can only be done through our community work which we are carrying out to help raise awareness about the seriousness of the issue.
“More funding is also needed so we can provide support for women suffering from the effects of FGM and we can tackle issues around language barriers and the ability to report.”
She also urged anyone with information about a girl who could be at risk or a person who conducts the procedure to get in touch with the police or the NSPCC.
Anyone with information should call the NSPCC’s dedicated FGM line on 0800 028 3550 or email [email protected]
Alternatively people can contact West Midlands Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.