Woman arrested for conspiracy to commit FGM

09 May 2014

New Scotland Yard

A 38-year-old woman has been arrested for conspiracy to commit Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) following a week-long initiative at Heathrow Airport aimed at preventing and detecting FGM.

The woman was arrested at around 18:30hrs on Thursday, 8 May, having arrived at Heathrow on a flight from Sierra Leone. She was taken to a west London police station where she remains in custody.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Border Force and the National Crime Agency (NCA) concluded the week of action entitled Operation Limelight today, Friday, 9 May 2014.

The woman is a British national born in Sierra Leone. A 13-year-old Sierra-Leonian girl travelling with the woman was taken into the care of social services.

A Nigerian female was also taken into the care of social services as a potential victim of trafficking. Her age has yet to be established. An investigation is ongoing by Border Force but is not related to FGM offences.

During yesterday’s initiative, officers spoke to 36 individuals who had alighted from two flights from Nigeria and from Liberia, via Sierra Leone.

Operation Limelight is a pro-active airside operation looking at inbound and outbound flights to ‘countries of prevalence’ for FGM. For the first time, the operation this week has been implemented as a co-ordinated National Week of Action with six other UK Airports and a number of police forces.

Officers from Project Azure, the MPS response to tackling FGM, and SO18 Aviation Command, worked with partner organisations including British Airways and Heathrow Airport Ltd to undertake a combination of educational and enforcement activities, including:

- Delivering enhanced training about FGM to officers and staff who work at Heathrow Airport to raise awareness of the practice and identify those affected;

- Preventative work with passengers on outbound flights to ‘countries of prevalence’, including distribution of health passports;

- Intelligence-led checks on passengers and searches of baggage;

- Engagement with passengers from communities affected by this crime;

- Identifying possible offences in order to take action against those responsible.