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Operation Limelight: Policing authorities on the lookout for victims of harmful practices

By Ellis Stephenson

Police have launched a pioneering crackdown on forced marriage, female genital mutilation and faith-related child abuse.

Kent Police today worked with partner agencies from across London including the Metropolitan Police Service, UK Border Agency and British Transport Police, at the Ebbsfleet International and St Pancras International.

It is the first time officers have completed such an operation in a railway station as the task force normally takes place at airports.

Police. Stock pic

Police. Stock pic

During the operation officers focussed on trains coming in to the country from areas around the world where these practices take place.

Officers spoke to passengers and handed out leaflets, while making sure people knew the signs of when people could be a victim of these offences.

Detective Inspector Ian Wadey from Kent Police’s public protection unit said: "I’m pleased that Kent Police officers were able to be a part of this operation.

"Those at risk from FGM and other harmful cultural practices need to be identified and protected but there is no easy, quick solution to this.

"Events like today help to educate communities about what is happening and who may be at risk, enabling people to share information and helping to identify vulnerable people within their communities.

"Kent Police, along with the MPS, BTP and other partner agencies are committed to working with communities to help tackle these issues and I hope we can continue to help to raise awareness of these issues through education and in time help to eradicate FGM and other harmful practices."

Director of the National FGM Centre, an organisation run by charity Banardo's and the Local Government Association, Michelle Lee-Izu said: “FGM is child abuse and a human rights violation.

“Operation Limelight is part of our work raising awareness that it is illegal in this country and that it is also against the law to take a girl overseas to be cut.

“Our focus is engaging with passengers travelling to and from countries where the offence is practised.

“By talking to them we hope to educate families and prevent anyone who may be thinking about having FGM carried out as well as highlighting the support available to those who may be at risk.”

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