Arrests and prosecutions alone will not end the problem of FGM, said a police inspector speaking at the National FGM Centre’s annual conference, this week.
More preventative work with affected communities is needed in order to end the harmful practice, the audience heard.
Inspector Allen Davis, from the Metropolitan Police Service, told the audience: “There are a number of challenges to securing convictions.
“Prosecutions alone aren’t going to change anything. They are symbolic but we’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of the problem.
“But prosecutions do send out a very strong message to communities that it’s illegal and they act as a deterrent for people thinking about taking their daughter abroad to undergo FGM, or having it done in this country.”
He said barriers to reporting FGM to the police include children being unlikely to ‘tell on their parents’, or being too young to remember what happened and professionals failing to report information.
Difficulties in securing a conviction include issues such as pressure from the community on the family involved, and the challenge to secure an admission of guilt, said Inspector Davis.