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Tonge quizzes Verma on Female Genital Mutilation

February 18, 2012 6:13 PM

• [Feb 16] Baroness Tonge (Liberal Democrat): TO ask Her Majesty's Government how many cases of female genital mutilation were investigated by the police in the last year for which figures are available.

Baroness Verma (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative): My Lords, information on the number of police investigations involving female genital mutilation is not collected centrally. However, the Government work closely with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that they are equipped with guidance and information to deal with cases of FGM, and that they are clear on their legal powers to protect women and girls from this abhorrent practice.

Baroness Tonge (Liberal Democrat): My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that Answer. Is she aware that between November 2009 and November 2011 there were 63 alleged cases reported to the Metropolitan Police which never reached prosecution? Will she undertake to ask the Government to set up a technical review to find out why these cases do not come to prosecution in order to ensure that proper training is given to doctors and midwives to stop this practice in this country? Does she agree that successful prosecutions are the only way to deter families from perpetrating this terrible mutilation on their daughters?

Baroness Verma (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative): My Lords, I can inform the noble Baroness that in September 2011 the CPS launched a female genital mutilation guidance pack that has been developed to assist prosecutors in what she knows are extremely complex cases. We are intending to monitor that guidance over 12 months and we will evaluate the results. The Government are of course also working closely with schools, health service staff, charities and community groups so that through the multi-agencies we are able to raise as much awareness as we can. As to the noble Baroness's point on prosecutions, this is an issue that at the end of the day will achieve results only when the communities themselves decide really to engage with bringing forward perpetrators.

• Full Debate in Parliament