Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a criminal offence in the UK under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
FGM has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985. In 2003 it also became a criminal offence for UK nationals or permanent UK residents to take their child abroad to have female genital mutilation.
Anyone found guilty of the offence faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
It is a form of child abuse and violence against women and girls, involving the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The practice is extremely painful and has serious health consequences, both at the time the mutilation is carried out, and later in life.
The guidance makes it clear that professionals who work with young people have a legal duty to inform the police if they know or believe a child or young person aged or 18 has been subjected to FGM.