BUCKS residents are being urged to help protect girls and be aware of the signs of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

FGM is illegal - and there is an increase in the number of cases at this time of year as girls can be made to go through the procedure before or during the school holidays so they can recover.

Bucks County Council is urging people to look out for the signs - and said concerns about a girl’s health will always be taken seriously.

Martin Tett, chair of Buckinghamshire Health and Wellbeing Board and County Council leader, said: “This is not an easy topic to have to think about but it’s for the safety of girls in our communities that we have to confront it.

“I urge anyone to be vigilant for the signs of FGM and to speak out about any concerns.

“It’s an inhumane practice and it can cause severe problems and considerable pain – we all have a duty to be aware of the signs and to act to protect vulnerable young women and girls.”