The number of girls in England who have experienced or are believed to be at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) has more than doubled in a year, according to assessments by council social workers.
Analysis of government figures shows that FGM featured in 1,960 social work assessments in 2017-18 – more than twice the 970 cases reported in the previous year.
The figures were described as alarming by those working in the field, who said the increase was due mainly to better detection by social workers. Experts said the real incidence of FGM is likely to be far higher, however, as it remains a largely hidden crime.
The analysis, by the Local Government Association, also reveals that abuse of children linked to faith or belief – including witchcraft and spirit possession – has gone up by 12%.