Woman arrested at Heathrow for conspiring to commit FGM

A 38-year-old woman has been arrested at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation as a result of a police operation mounted at airports across the country during the past week, Scotland Yard announced today. The arrest took place at 6.30pm on Thursday, after officers had swooped on dozens of passengers arriving in London on flights from Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

In a statement, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “The British national was held after arriving on a flight from Sierra Leone and taken to a west London police station where she remains in custody. A 13-year-old Sierra-Leonian girl travelling with the woman was taken into the care of social services.” They added: “A Nigerian female was also taken into the care of social services as a potential victim of trafficking. Her age has yet to be established. An investigation is ongoing by Border Force but is not related to FGM offences.”

The week-long crackdown against FGM, dubbed Operation Limelight, involved seven police forces, the Border Force and the National Crime Agency. Officers targeted flights to ‘countries of prevalence’ such as Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They had been briefed to look out for young girls returning from FGM ceremonies dressed like ‘mini divas’ in heels and make up. Passengers were warned that FGM is illegal in Britain and carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Some had their bags searched or were questioned in a bid to find victims of the practice.

There have been more than 60,000 victims of FGM in Britain, according to campaigners. Yet just 11 cases have been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service by the Metropolitan Police since 2010. “We're not getting an awful lot of referrals from the community, from medical professionals or from educational professionals. We need those because without that we can't start an investigation,” said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe yesterday. Forcing girls to have medical examinations to check for evidence of FGM is “one of the things I think probably the Government is going to have to consider at some point,” he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss