Bedfordshire Police supported the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on Saturday (6 February).
The force remains committed to supporting the survivors, and fighting the misconception about this practice. FGM is not a religious practice and no religious text condones it.
It is illegal in UK to perform FGM, or facilitate it, in the UK or abroad. Although international travel dramatically reduced over the past year, there are still offenders in this country who offer to perform FGM domestically.
Detective Inspector Louise Gent, from the Bedfordshire Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People team, said:
“Female Genital Mutilation, like most harmful practices, remains mostly hidden within our communities. Therefore, is it difficult to know the exact scale of this issue, but it is estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are at risk of FGM each year.
“As many survivors or potential victims are hesitant to come forward as they are worried they will be separated from their families or excluded from their local communities.
“I would like to reassure anyone who wants to come forward that we have specially trained officers who are experienced in dealing with sensitive issues. We will listen to your wishes and remain discreet.
“Anything reported to us won’t be disclosed to anyone unless the victim gives us explicit permission to do so.”
Anyone who believes they need police support, or wishes to report something that happened to them, or someone else, can visit Bedfordshire Police’s online reporting centre befordshire.police.uk/report or call 101.
There are also a number of charities and support lines who can help anyone who is not ready to contact the police.
If you’ve been affected by crime you can also contact Signpost for free and confidential support, whether the crime has been reported to police or not. For further information or to get in contact, visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com.