Innovative tool launched to help social workers detect FGM risk

The National FGM Centre has launched an innovative tool to help social workers assess if a girl is at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The online resource takes staff through the questions they should be asking families if they think FGM is a concern.

And, based on the answers given to the 31 questions, the programme generates a risk level for each case and provides recommendations for the social worker about what action needs to be taken.

Available for free on the centre’s website, the resource also includes best practice guidance, which can either be downloaded or read online. It is advised that familiarisation with the FGM Good Practice Guidance is required before using the FGM Assessment Tool.

Leethen Bartholomew, head of the National FGM Centre, said: “It is vital social workers know how to recognise and respond to a possible case of female genital mutilation, and what to do if they suspect a girl is at risk.

But too often we have found professionals are not fully aware of what signs to look out for.

This is why we have developed the tool, to not only educate them about what questions to ask children and families where they think a girl is at risk, but also what steps to take next if they are concerned.”

The National FGM Centre, which is run by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, hopes social workers use the risk assessment resource as a guide, alongside other training they have received on the issue, also ensuring that they use their professional judgement, to assist them in safeguarding girls at risk or who have undergone FGM under the age of 18.

It has been well received by staff who have already used the tool, including Dave Basker, the Head of Safeguarding, Leeds Children’s Services, at Leeds City Council.

Dave Basker said:  “I think the Assessment Tool has a role to play in developing confident, ‘cutting edge’ social work practice in this important area of our work.”

The online FGM Assessment tool is available on the National FGM Centre website:

It is recommended that anyone wishing to use the tool has a day of training – about FGM and how to use the tool – before doing so. Go to for details.

Social workers have a mandatory duty to report known cases of FGM to the police, and suspected cases through their usual safeguarding channels.

The National FGM Centre, run by Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association, was launched in March 2015 to protect girls and women by preventing new cases of FGM.

So far it has worked with more than 254 families (more than 300 girls) and has supported the application of 14 FGM Protection Orders.

It started working in six pilot sites of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Thurrock, Southend and Hertfordshire local authorities and is now expanding its reach into other areas.


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