CPS London and MPS sign new protocol for FGM cases

23/07/2013

Alison Saunders CB, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London and Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Niven from the Metropolitan Police Service, have signed a new protocol setting out the approach for police and prosecutors in Female Genital Mutilation cases.

The protocol has been drawn up by the CPS and MPS as a way to ensure that all cases involving FGM are investigated and prosecuted thoroughly and consistently.

On signing the agreement, Ms Saunders, said: "By signing this protocol today, we are making it clear that the practice of FGM is one that is unlawful and should not be condoned. We will work with MPS colleagues to prosecute offenders and support victims.

"Cases of FGM are challenging to prosecute but this protocol sets out how each case will be carefully and consistently considered, as well as ensuring that the welfare of the victim is paramount at all times.

"The document will ensure that close working between the CPS and the MPS on cases of Female Genital Mutilation continues, so that strong cases can be built against those who perpetrate this violent and invasive crime."

The protocol calls for early consultation between the CPS lawyer and the officer in the cases to ensure that all possible avenues of evidence are explored and that the correct charge is identified. This will include drawing up a detailed and specific action plan and close working with the trial advocate, case worker and a forensic physician, where appropriate.

DCS Niven said: "The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to supporting survivors of FGM and identifying the individuals involved in the commission of offences connected to this abhorrent practice.

"FGM cannot be disguised as being part of any culture, it is child abuse and offenders will be relentlessly pursued. The introduction of this new joint protocol with the Crown Prosecution Service will enable investigators and prosecutors to work closely together to bring those responsible to justice.

"There are many challenges involved in cases such as these and we fully understand the difficulties some face when deciding whether to report to police.

"I would like to take this opportunity to provide reassurance that the welfare of the victim is paramount at all times. We have trained child protection officers who will support survivors throughout the process, treating them with the utmost respect and sensitivity.

"We encourage survivors or those with information to come forward and enable the MPS and CPS to prosecute offenders and eradicate this crime from our communities."

Ms Saunders added: "Victims can be reluctant to report this type of abuse especially when it may involve giving evidence against their own family.

"The protocol stresses the importance of making sure the victim is supported in every way possible and that they are put in touch with local specialist support services at the start of any investigation.

"Additional support will also include the use of special measures, a court familiarisation visit, referral to specialist support services and the use of specialist officers and prosecutors who are sensitive to the issues involved.

"When a case is charged a dedicated, single point of contact with the victim will also be appointed which we hope will make the victim feel more confident and secure during the prosecution process.

"Despite the challenges to prosecuting these types of cases, signing this protocol today demonstrates the commitment of the CPS and MPS to bringing perpetrators of FGM to justice."