Patrols are being stepped up at London airports amid fears children are being taken on ‘holiday’ for female genital mutilation (FGM).
Police say they will target flights to-and-from countries where the prevalence of cutting young girls is high, such as Guinea, Somalia and Sudan.
FGM is the altering or causing injury to the female genital organs for non medical reasons, including removal of the clitoris or labia.
Experts say it is impossible to know how many girls are being taken abroad for FGM because it is normally arranged by their families, and like other forms of child abuse, is relatively easy to hide.
But Equality Now, a charity that campaigns to eradicate FGM, says there is anecdotal evidence holiday cutting is taking place.
It says girls are more at risk during the summer holidays because it allows them more time to ‘heal’ before returning to school