A well-known female genital mutilation practitioner is trying to enter the UK, police have warned.
The Metropolitan Police say they have launched a legal bid to block the woman, who is a Sierra Leone national, from entering the country. They have applied for an FGM protection order and an inherent jurisdiction order.
Representing the police, Zimran Samuel told the High Court the woman, had “a high profile status” and headed a council of cutters in her home country. The woman was not named but she is understood to be a practitioner of cutting who performs it on adults but opposes operations for girls under the age of 18.
Judge Justice Holman declined to issue an order, explaining that while he found FGM “abhorrent and a terrible scourge on women… the right thing is to try to get the secretary of state not to let this woman in”.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “The MPS is now considering what other options are available to prevent the entry into the UK of a person who may wish to carry out FGM. FGM is illegal and constitutes child abuse.
"A lot of work has been done to raise awareness over the last few years of this horrific practice, highlighting the short and long-term health risks and the absence of any religious teaching that supports it. However we are not complacent and more still needs to be done.
"The Met spends time highlighting the support available to those who may be at risk. When victims come to us with concerns over the risks they face, no matter what stage they are at in their life, the Met takes take these concerns very seriously.
“Police have a responsibility to act to protect vulnerable people and prevent people, especially the vulnerable, from becoming victims of crime. The Met will always to seek to follow the law to carry out this responsibility.”
Last week a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee reviewing FGM in the UK said it was a “national disgrace” that 30 years since FGM became illegal not a single person has been convicted of the crime. In the report, the MPs criticised a lack of reliable and in-depth data on the issue, warning it is difficult to fully ascertain the extent and prevalence of the abuse without solid statistics. They said stronger sanctions need to be introduced to ensure teachers, social workers and healthcare professionals alert authorities where they come across evidence of FGM, under mandatory reporting laws which came in to force in 2015.
Other recommendations made by the committee include that Government departments should link up more to form a cohesive and united approach to addressing the issue, and that the FGM Unit should form better links with border-force operations and police to intercept families when they try and take a girl out of the country to cut her abroad.
With additional reporting by Press Association