There were 5,391 newly recorded cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) reported in England in the last year, according to new figures published by NHS Digital today (5 July).
The data, which covers April 2016 to March 2017, revealed that a third of the women and girls were born in Somalia, while 112 cases involved UK-born nationals.
Almost half the cases involved women and girls living in London.
This is the second time that NHS Digital has released annual FGM figures for England.
Most cases of FGM are discovered in maternity wards. The majority of victims originally had FGM done to them abroad as young children.
Women and girls born in Somalia accounted for 35% or 875 of the newly recorded cases in which the country of birth was known. And 112 of the women were born in the UK.
Seven of the FGM cases are known to have taken place in the UK, excluding genital piercings, which accounted for 50 cases.
The most common age when FGM was experienced was between 5 and 9 years. This accounted for 44% (739) of cases where the age is known.
FGM has been illegal in the United Kingdom since 1985 and carries a jail sentence of up to 14 years. The law was strengthened in 2003 to prevent girls travelling from the UK and undergoing FGM abroad.
It became mandatory for all acute trusts to collect and submit to the FGM Enhanced Dataset from 1 July 2015 and for all mental health trusts and GP practices, from 1 October 2015.
Wendy Preston, head of nursing practice for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said: ‘Mandatory reporting and compulsory sex-and-relationships education are important weapons in the fight against FGM, and school nurses play a vital role in both educating children and young women, and spotting those who may be at risk.
‘The Government must act to attract and retain school nurses, to help address the problem at grassroots level, and maintain momentum in the fight to eradicate FGM.’