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Police undertake to investigate thoroughly all potential offences of FGM

Avon and Somerset Police statement follows collapsed trial

A 29-year-old man from Bristol charged with an FGM-related child cruelty offence has been acquitted following a ruling by the trial judge at Bristol Crown Court. His Honour Judge Lambert ordered that the accused be found not guilty of child cruelty and criticised aspects of the case against the man.

DCI Leanne Pook, the Avon and Somerset Police lead for FGM and lead officer for this case, said after the ruling: 

"Our priority from the outset of this investigation has been to safeguard any vulnerable children and protect them from harm.

"We carried out a challenging two-year investigation, supported by professionals from a range of partner agencies, which resulted in evidence being passed to the Crown Prosecution Service and a charge being authorised for a child cruelty offence.

"We accept the findings of the court and will continue, as always, to work closely with our communities to protect those at risk of FGM, and our wider network of partner agencies and inspiring charities to raise awareness of and develop our responses to this important issue.

"FGM remains a deeply entrenched practice and we know these harmful procedures are happening in this country right now. I'd like to reassure the public that we'll put as much energy, dedication and care into investigating FGM as we would do in any inquiry where a child is at risk of harm.

"We will continue to thoroughly investigate all potential offences of FGM. Alongside this we will maintain our focus on preventing FGM from taking place in the first place, working with our partners and communities and using all the legislative and safeguarding powers at our disposal."

Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens:

"The police take reports of FGM seriously as they would any form of abuse against a child.

"It's important that the police continue to work with partner organisations and charities and we all continue to raise awareness of this unacceptable practice. I am very proud of the fantastic work in Bristol as part of the 'Bristol Model' to tackle FGM and supportive of the ambition to end FGM in a generation by working with young people.

"As the national Police and Crime Commissioner representative for honour-based abuse, forced marriage and FGM, I am committed to protecting the most vulnerable from harm.  Working with the police, partners, and affected communities to challenge the practice of FGM and be very clear, that it is child abuse and against the law."

For a report of the proceedings in The Guardian, click here.