Reporting on female genital mutilation

A new mandatory duty to report female genital mutilation (FGM) cases to the police came into effect in England and Wales on 31 October 2015. It applies to all registered healthcare professionals, including dentists and dental care professionals.

The new duty applies where a dental professional, in the course of their work, either:

  • ​is informed directly by a girl that an act of FGM has been carried out on her
  • observes physical signs which appear to show an act of FGM has been carried out and has no reason to believe that the act was necessary for the girl’s physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth.

The duty applies only to girls who are under 18 at the time that FGM is observed or disclosed. It does not apply if the health professional only suspects that FGM may have been carried out.

Dental professionals should familiarise themselves with the government's guidance on the new duty which includes FAQs and a process map on how the new duty fits with existing safeguarding arrangements.

A range of resources to help health professionals comply with the new duty is available from the Government website

Under the legislation, failure to comply with the new duty may result in an investigation of a dental professional’s fitness to practise.

The new duty is limited to the specific circumstances described above. However, in complying with the Standards, dental professionals, including those who employ, manage or lead a team should continue to take into account their wider safeguarding responsibilities, whether in relation to FGM or any other forms of abuse.

Who does the duty apply to?

All registered healthcare professionals and social workers in England and Wales. This includes all dental professionals registered with the GDC.

Who does the duty relate to?

Any girl under the age of 18 who you observe to have had FGM (this will apply mostly to doctors, nurses and midwives) or who tells you that she has been subject to FGM.

How do I make a report?

By calling the non-emergency number for the Police (101). The government's guidance tells you what information you will need to give

When should I report it?

As soon as possible and by the end of the next working day. For information on exceptions to this, see the Government's guidance on reporting here.

What about dental professionals practising in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Although the mandatory duty does not apply, you should still follow your local safeguarding procedures.