Officers and partners join forces for Operation Limelight
Officers and partners at Stansted Airport spoke to over 1,700 passengers during a dedicated operation to raise awareness about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Operation Limelight, which ran on Wednesday, September 5, and Thursday, September 6, saw officers working with Border Force and partner agencies talking to passengers about the law around FGM and the harm inflicted on victims.
Those spoken to were arriving from or departing to airports that have connecting routes to countries where the practice is most prevalent.
In the UK, FGM carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in the UK. The practice is believed to be most prevalent in certain parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East but is not limited to international borders and can be carried out in communities throughout the world.
Operation Limelight is typically carried out during the school holidays when girls are particularly vulnerable to being taken abroad.
As part of the operation, officers informed people about the practice and highlighted the support and guidance available to those who may be at risk.
Officers were joined by the Border Force, Bernardo’s, Social Services, One Woman at a Time, African Women Northern Ireland and Public Protection Officers and Essex County Council.
Angie Marriot, a Cross Cultural Diversity Consultant at Diversity Employment Solutions, applauded this partnership working and encouraged a zero tolerance approach to offenders attempting to evade detection. She said: “It was a privilege to deliver training to the police, Border Force and partner agencies prior to the start of the operation. Educating people is vital to plug any gaps in knowledge amongst professionals managing FGM.
“This year's Operation Limelight has highlighted a number of concerns during stops and these have been managed by endorsing a successful multi agency partnership approach.
“I commend PC Fiona Clements, PC Darren Potts and Border Force for their sterling dedication and commitment to protecting African girls affected by FGM here in the UK through Operation Limelight.”
PC Fiona Clements, who led the operation, said: “FGM is a crime that often takes place behind closed doors and goes unreported. Working with experts in the field increases our ability to raise awareness, identify offenders and safeguard victims.”
“It was good to see the number of people already aware of this barbaric practice has risen considerably compared to a few years ago when it was virtually unknown beyond the communities and cultures in which FGM is performed.”