Mayor to challenge agencies to collaborate on violence against females

27 November 2013

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today (Wednesday 27th November) called on hospitals to share the information that they hold on victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) with the police, so that girls can be protected and a true picture on the extent of this horrific practice can be established.

It is believed that hundreds of women in London have undergone surgery to reverse the impact of FGM, whilst a couple of thousand have sought hospital treatment over the last three years. However hospitals are not obliged or indeed do not pass on vital information to the police or children and family services that would help drive forward prosecutions, identify siblings at risk, or ensure that support services are put in place.

Working with the Public Health Minister Jane Ellison MP at City Hall, in the new year the Mayor will host a roundtable with hospitals and health professionals, to plan an agreement on information sharing. The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) hopes that a concordat can be established, similar to knife crime A& E data where privacy and patient confidentiality will be respected, so that the scope and scale of the FGM problem can be fully understood.

Drawing on lessons learnt from his 2010 strategy - the first of its kind for a major city - the updated Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)strategy released today outlines how the Mayor is committed to reducing the prevalence of violence against women and girls.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

‘My first duty as Mayor is to protect all Londoners and I am determined to do just that. I want to see a safer city for women and girls and although we have seen crime drop by 11 per cent since I was first elected, there is still much more to do. Female victims in this city are still too common and we need to more to tackle the scourge of FGM, domestic violence, prostitution, human trafficking and domestic servitude.

‘It is essential that all public services in London join together in our efforts to ensure that we prevent all forms of violence against women and girls, and then get better at delivering swift justice, and effective treatment and recovery services that victims need.’

Joan Smith Co-Chair of the VAWG Panel said:

‘FGM is a form of child abuse. It has long-lasting effects on women's health, and the Mayor's new strategy makes clear that it will not be tolerated. I hope we can all work together in London to protect girls from this dreadful mutilation.'

During a visit to a Rape Crisis Centre in north London, the Mayor will also highlight the on-going commitment to fund four rape crisis centres. In 2010 the Mayor quadrupled the number of centres across London, increasing the number from one to four. He has now joined forces with the Ministry of Justice to co-commission rape support services in the city from 2014. This could deliver up to an additional £400,000 of funding to the £1.26 million per annum that is provided by the Mayor and London boroughs.

Other highlights of the refreshed VAWG strategy include:

  • In the last year the Mayor has provided funding for over 40 projects across the capital through the London Crime Prevention Fund, ploughing £3.6million – around one fifth of the fund – into frontline services and projects in boroughs tackling violence against women.
  • A new MOPAC guidance manual for local partners is also being published to help them identify girls at risk of sexual violence in gangs and encourage them to share that information to help prevent crime. There are a number of barriers to young women and girls reporting gang-associated sexual violence or seeking support including a fear of retaliation and a lack of confidence in the ability of the police and other services to offer adequate protection.

Notes to editors

  • The Mayor launched a revised pan-London Strategy on Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) in November 2013 to build upon the success of his previous strategy The Way Forward and make sure that London continues to take a global lead in preventing and eliminating VAWG.
  • The new VAWG strategy will be available from midday on 27th November at http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/mission-priorities/violence-against-women-girls
  • The Way Forward led to a lot of progress over the last three years. Key successes include an improved understanding of the nature and extent of VAWG in London; a shift towards a more preventative approach; improved access to support by quadrupling Rape Crisis provision, opening three new centres and expanding the only centre in south London; improvements to the way the Metropolitan Police Service respond to VAWG through the formation of specialist commands to tackle rape and sexual assault which has now merged with the child abuse command to create an integrated “Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Investigation Command” and the formation of a new specialist unit to tackle trafficking and prostitution which has established itself as a centre of excellence.
  • The refreshed VAWG strategy has been developed further to a two month consultation to which around eighty organisations and individuals responded.