Courts will be able to stop suspected overseas "cutters" from coming to Britain under a law that comes into force today to protect girls from female genital mutilation.

The legislation, which permits "FGM protection orders" to be issued for the first time, will also allow passports to be seized from people who want to take girls abroad for mutilation. Orders barring family members from conspiring or encouraging others to commit mutilation will also be available to the courts under the new powers.

The initial restrictions will be imposed using civil powers, but breach of an order will be a criminal offence carrying a potential prison sentence of up to five years.

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