FGM fears as Birmingham police raid unregistered school with bed and medical gear

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Officers raided the site on Tuesday and were pictured taking away bags of evidence including computers. It came after Ofsted inspectors found a locked room with a bed and medical equipment at the school, which has not been named.

A West Midlands Police spokeswoman confirmed that the force was called at 11.39am on Tuesday by Ofsted inspectors investigating reports of an unregistered school.

She said: “There were concerns raised about possible illegal practices which may have taken place at the premises.

“As part of our enquiries two men, aged 32 and 61, have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in female genital mutilation and have since been bailed with strict conditions.”

She added that a third man was also arrested on Wednesday as part of the force’s investigation. He has also been bailed with strict conditions.

The spokeswoman said: “We understand the concern this will cause within the community but it’s important to stress we’re still working to establish whether any offences have occurred. Our investigation along with partner agencies is continuing.”

An unregistered school meets the legal definition of an independent, or private, school, but is not registered with the Department for Education (DfE).

It is against the law to run an independent school unless it is registered with the DfE, which is the regulating body for that type of school.

Anyone who runs an unregistered school is guilty of a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Ofsted reported in November that since establishing its Unregistered School’s Taskforce in 2016, its inspectors have investigated more than 800 institutions, issuing more than 100 warning notices to owners and managers who run them.

FGM is when a female’s genitals are deliberately altered or removed for non-medical reasons, according to the NSPCC. It is also known as “female circumcision” or “cutting”.

It is recognised as a form of child abuse and is illegal in the UK. It can cause serious harm, including constant pain, infections and infertility.

A 2015 study using 2011 census data on FGM in the UK found that about 103,000 women aged 15-49 and around 24,000 women aged 50 and over who have migrated to England and Wales live with the consequences of FGM.

It also found that about 10,000 girls aged under 15 who have migrated to England and Wales are likely to have undergone the procedure.

The study found that London has the highest prevalence rate in England and Wales with an estimated 2.1 percent of women affected by FGM.

Beyond London, the highest estimates identified in the study were for Manchester, Slough, Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 200 million girls and women worldwide have been affected by FGM.

Three million are at risk of FGM every year, it says.

FGM is commonly practiced in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia and is mostly carried out on girls under 16 years.

If you are worried a child is at risk of or has already had FGM, call the NSPCC’s free, anonymous, helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email fgm.help@nspcc.org.uk