MPS Capability (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
November 18, 2015
Question By: 
Fiona Twycross
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Fiona Twycross AM:  As part of the mayoral strategy to tackle violence against women and girls, you committed to securing prosecutions around female genital mutilation (FGM).  So far this year, as you will be aware, there has been just one unsuccessful prosecution for FGM.  With significant reductions in funding to the MPS, as outlined by previous speakers including Joanne McCartney, what are you doing to ensure that prosecutions for FGM remain a priority?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for MPS Capability (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for MPS Capability (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  They will remain a priority and we brought in the first strategy for London for violence against women and girls.  We helped massively to escalate the public awareness and indeed political and police consciousness of this issue.  I would not want to see any slackening of the aggression with which the police will tackle this crime.

Yes, look, it was incredibly disappointing to see what happened with that prosecution.  I have to say, after reading about it and reading about the case, the normal person felt it was pretty bizarre that that individual in question had been charged.  It plainly was not the right person and, if I may say so, it shows the difficulty when politicians put pressure on prosecutors to come up with something.  I am afraid that with the best of possible motives people can make mistakes and it takes careful gathering of the evidence and it means reassuring the victims that they will not be the subject of reprisals or ill treatment.  It is a very, very sensitive business and it takes a lot of police work.

I totally understand your concerns there, Fiona, but I am sure that [Sir] Bernard Hogan-Howe [ QPM, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis] does as well.

Fiona Twycross AM:  With significant cuts to borough neighbourhood policing, there is a risk that it will become increasingly difficult, not easier, for police to build up the trust and evidence required, particularly in terms of the trust with communities affected by FGM, which could make it harder to identify both victims and perpetrators.

Do you believe that the money that you have committed to community work aimed at preventing FGM is sufficient to tackle this problem, and how will you ensure perpetrators are brought to justice?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  This is something that the police are absolutely determined to help us all to crack.  They have a unit in the MPS, the Sapphire Unit, to deal with violence against women and girls.  To get a successful prosecution for FGM is going to require a lot of co-operation by people who know it is going on but who, for all sorts of reasons, want to protect the perpetrators.  That is going to require a big shift in attitudes in London and it has to happen.

Fiona Twycross AM:  Last year - about this time last year, actually - when I asked you about the lack of prosecutions, you said that there were people who are simply getting away with it and, as long as they get away with it and as long as there is not a successful prosecution, then people have a sense it is not taken as seriously as it should be.

How long will people simply be getting away with it?  For example, in Southwark, one in ten babies is born to a woman who has been a victim and survivor of FGM.  This is not a marginal problem.  How long will people simply be getting away with it?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I cannot give you the answer to that, Fiona.  I would be happy to supply you afterwards with any information I have about investigations that are underway or arrests that have been made.  I do not know the state of any of our particular inquiries into it.  All I know is what you have just said, which is that there was a very disappointing business earlier this year when we failed.  This has been illegal since 1981 in this country and we still have not produced a successful conviction.  It is a great, great shame that that has not happened, although it does not mean we are not determined to do it, and we will.