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Reporting female genital mutilation

New mandatory duty for osteopaths in England and Wales

Osteopaths in England and Wales have a mandatory duty to report cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) to the police if, in the course of their work:

  • a girl under 18 years old informs them directly that an act of FGM has been carried out on her, or
  • they observe physical signs on a girl under 18 years old which appear to show an act of FGM has been carried out, and they have no reason to believe that this was necessary for her physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth.

The duty, which came into effect on 31 October 2015, applies only in these circumstances. It does not apply if, for example, you suspect that FGM may have been carried out, or a woman aged 18 or over tells you that FGM was carried out on her when she was under 18.

The Home Office has produced detailed procedural information explaining how to comply with the duty. Resources for health professionals, including a leaflet for patients, are available from the Department of Health.

Who does the duty apply to?

All regulated healthcare professionals (including osteopaths), teachers in England and Wales, and social care workers in Wales.

Who does the duty relate to?

Any girl under the age of 18 who you observe to have had FGM or who tells you that she has been the victim of FGM.

How soon should I report the FGM to the police?

As soon as possible after you are told about it or observe the physical signs, and by the end of the next working day at the latest.

You cannot pass on responsibility for making the report to anyone else.

How do I report it?

By dialling 101, the non-emergency number for the police.

The Home Office’s procedural information tells you the information you will need to provide, and other actions you should take (such as considering whether to tell the girl and/or her parents or guardians that you will be making a report to the police).

Legislation

The mandatory duty in England and Wales to report female genital mutilation (FGM) to the police is set out in section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.

FGM is illegal in the UK. As with all cases involving protection of children and vulnerable adults, osteopaths have a duty to follow local safeguarding procedures.