Police carry out first rail-based FGM crackdown operation at Ebbsfleet International
PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 September 2017
The operation has previously run at UK airports
An operation aiming to protect children and vulnerable people from harmful practices and human trafficking took place at Ebbsfleet International station today.
Kent Police was part of a multi-agency day of action at the UK border, where officers looked for people travelling to or from the UK who may have been a victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and child abuse linked to faith or belief.
The force was joined by colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), British Transport Police (BTP) and UK Border Force, with officers present at the Eurostar terminals at St Pancras International as well as Ebbsfleet.
The operation has previously run at UK airports but this was the first time it was put in place at rail terminals.
Partner organisations including Eurostar and HS1 Ltd were also part of the initiative which also saw enhanced training about FGM and other harmful practices being given to officers and staff who work at the Eurostar terminal to raise awareness of the practice and identify those affected.
During the day officers carried out preventative work with passengers on inbound trains who have travelled through Europe from countries where FGM and other harmful practices take place.
Officers also distributed literature to raise awareness of the issues and engaged with passengers from communities affected by these crimes as well as identified possible offences in order to take action against those responsible.
Survivors of FGM also attended the operation, to provide advice and witness first-hand how the police and Border Force officials tackle this issue.
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.”
Andy Coram, Border Force assistant director for South East and Europe, added: ‘This joint operation has played a key role in raising awareness with passengers about harmful practices such as FGM and forced marriage.
“As part of Border Force’s safeguarding role, it is vital that we protect the vulnerable and identify children who may be at risk at every opportunity.
“Our important work to support some of the most vulnerable in society will continue at stations, ports and airports across the UK.”