Although Britain outlawed female genital mutilation almost 30 years ago, there has never been a prosecution. But this could change following the launch of covert police investigations and an FGM hotline.

The national children's charity, the NSPCC, which runs the anonymous helpline, said it had referred 34 cases to the police since going live less than three months ago.

The government says around 24,000 girls living in Britain may be at risk of FGM - a ritual practised by some ethnic communities in which the external genitalia are partly or totally removed. In its most extreme form the vaginal opening is also sewn up. It's a practice which causes serious physical and psychological harm.

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