Police Protocol

last updated January 2015 

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org.

Police Protocol

  • Legislation should require the development of police protocols that are centered upon survivor safety and respectful investigation of FGM. 
  • Legislation should state that police must develop protocols for youth and survivor interviews, and for immediate medical testing, in order that the survivor may be questioned and examined in a respectful and timely manner, and at an age/developmentally appropriate level, for successful evidence use at trial.
  • Legislation should require that police coordinate with prosecutors, survivor support groups and social services, including child protection agencies.
  • Legislation should require that police receive training on a regular basis on the latest information about female genital mutilation and the most respectful methods of handling FGM survivors.
  • Legislation should provide that law enforcement professionals who do not pursue cases of FGM shall be penalized.

Promising Practice:
Section 8(b) of the Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, states: 

Member States are urged, within the framework of their national legal systems . . . [t]o develop investigative techniques that do not degrade women subjected to violence and minimize intrusion, while maintaining standards for the collection of the best evidence[.] 

  • Specialized investigative units and procedures and multidisciplinary teams of police and social workers are some of the tools police can utilize to ensure that victims are not further traumatized as a result of the investigation. Sensitive and personal questions should be handled only by investigators who have been thoroughly trained on FGM issues. These areas where interviews and physical examinations of FGM victims are conducted should be comfortable and private.

CASE STUDY – United Kingdom – Summer Holidays are for Fun not Pain Campaign

In 2007, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) developed and implemented Project Azure to safeguard children and raise awareness about FGM, particularly in relation to the health implications for the girl and the legal implications for anyone assisting in the procedure. One of the Project’s main goals is to tackle the prevalence of FGM during the summer holidays. During this period, families that practice FGM often take girls under their care abroad to perform the procedure or conduct the procedure at home, utilizing the holiday period as recovery time. The campaign “Summer Holidays are for Fun not Pain,” implemented by MPS in conjunction with the London Children’s Safeguarding Board (LSCB), the British Medical Association (BMA), Foundation for Women’s Health, Research and Development (FORWARD), Africans United against Child Abuse, (AFRUCA) and the Agency for Culture and Change Management (ACCM), aims to inform the public of the practice and appeals to families and caregivers to protect and prevent children from undergoing FGM. (See: Metropolitan Police Female Genital Mutilation Prevention Campaign and Metropolitan Police website on FGM).

See also: Public Education Section