Authorities across Bucks are working together to push forward with an action plan which aims to identify and help victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

In 2015 it became a legal requirement for NHS medical staff to report cases of patients who may have fallen victim to FGM – and the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board is continuing to work with its partners to identify how many cases there are in Bucks.

On Thursday (May 3) Bucks County Council's (BCC) health and wellbeing board were updated on the action plan – and concerns were raised over the difficulties of pinning down data for the county on the issue.

Lead health and wellbeing officer, Katie McDonald, added that more work needs to be done with frontline NHS staff to give them the confidence to identify and report cases.

She said: “It is a really difficult issue in Bucks, but locally data is suppressed so numbers between zero and four we wouldn’t see, so in Bucks it is really difficult for us to have evidence of the numbers.

“We continue in hope through our strategy, and what we have in place, that we can understand more about the issues.

“There is no local authority in the country that we know that doesn’t have this an issue – it’s just more set between certain areas, and we are trying to learn what they are doing.”

According to the NHS website FGM – also known as female circumcision – is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately injured without any medical reason for doing so.

The procedure is usually carried out on young girls up to the age of 15 – and is classed as child abuse in the UK.

Leader of BCC, Martin Tett, said it is a “really important” issue, however acknowledged the difficulties of moving the action plan forward if there is little information.

He said: “Unless you have data you don’t really have any information to know how prevalent it is – you don’t know if the trend is a positive or negative one, you don’t even know the geographical location of it, is there a particular prevalence in particular geographies, there are obviously cultural sensitivities about this as well. It’s a very complex issue.”