Police chiefs in Sheffield have been granted the first protection orders in the city to save two girls from female genital mutilation.
South Yorkshire Police applied for the orders at the Sheffield Family Court after identifying two girls at risk of FGM.
The orders allow the police force to retain the girls’ passports preventing them from being taken abroad to a country where the practice is normal.
They will remain in place until Tuesday, May 2, when the case will again be heard again and police chiefs can apply for the order to be extended.
FGM, which is a procedure that removes part of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons, is common in some countries but illegal in Britain.
Anyone found to have committed, enabled or helped someone carry it out faces 14 years behind bars.
Detective Sergeant Suzanne Bluck said: “We are extremely pleased we have been granted the right to enforce the first notices under this legislation and are able to now take action to prevent further potential victims of FGM.
“I hope this sends out a strong message, to those who support or seek to enforce this practice either here or abroad, that we with our partners will take action where necessary to enforce the law and protect victims.
“FGM is a serious offence and it is notoriously difficult to expect young children to potentially prosecute family members or understand that it is wrong. However, this type of order is a strong preventative and protective measure from the one incident in their lives that causes permanent physical and psychological damage.
“Therefore I believe it is extremely important that the brave actions of both victims and others, who report incidents to police, are recognised and we are able to act under the legislation to protect those who are at risk, or have already been subjected to FGM.
“The results achieved on Tuesday highlight how this historic practice still takes place in some cultures and I hope by speaking about FGM and the action we are taking to identify and prevent it, we will encourage others to raise awareness and report any suspicions they may have to police.
“With support from our partners and local authorities, we will now continue to raise awareness of FGM, encourage reporting and implement our ‘Prevent, Protect, Partners and Prosecute’ strategy.”