It includes a drive to gather more robust data so the scale of the problem can be gauged, and identifying what issues have hindered investigations and prosecutions to date.
The plan also looks to explore how other jurisdictions prosecute the crime; ensuring police and prosecutors work together closely from the start of investigations.
While FGM is a criminal offence – and has been in England and Wales since 1985 – there has never been a prosecution.
The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, is behind the move to put a stop to the horrific practice.
He said: ‘It is critical that everything possible is done to ensure we bring the people who commit these offences against young girls and women to justice and this action plan is a major step in the right direction.
‘Everyone who can play a part in stopping FGM – from the doctor with a suspicion that an offence has been committed and the police officer investigating the initial complaint to the prosecutor taking a charging decision – needs to know what to do to improve detection rates, strengthen investigations and, for the part of the crown prosecution service (CPS
), to start getting these offenders into court.
‘I am determined that the CPS should play a key role in ensuring that the impunity with which these offenders have acted will end.’
The action plan
follows a round table meeting of experts, which looked at the issue in September.
Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery, said: ‘We warmly welcome the launch of the ground-breaking action plan and applaud the Crown Prosecution Service for taking such proactive steps and its focus on gathering more robust data regarding allegations of FGM, so that the scale of the problem can be assessed.
‘It concerns me that so many UK midwives are seeing cases of FGM and we need to have good mechanisms in place for midwives to report and take appropriate actions about FGM.
‘The RCM takes a zero tolerance stance on FGM and will continue to work to see this practice stopped in the UK. We look forward to continuing to work with the director for public prosecutions about the action plan.’