The first-ever statistical publication for female genital mutilation (FGM) shows 5,702 cases were newly recorded in England in 2015/16.
The statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) found that 38 GP practices recorded at least one FGM attendance in 2015/16.
More than half of all the reported cases relate to women and girls from the London NHS Commissioning Region, with 52% of newly recorded cases and 58% of total attendances from this area.
The statistics revealed a total of 8,660 attendances where FGM was either identified or a medical procedure for FGM was undertaken.
The most common age for an FGM procedure to take place was found to be between the ages of five and nine years old, accounting for 43% of the newly reported cases.
More than one third (810 cases) were of women and girls born in Somalia. However, 43 cases involved women and girls who said they were born in the UK.
The report also said that, in 18 cases, the FGM procedure occurred in the UK, including 11 of the women and girls who were born here.
Female Genital Mutilation Enhanced Dataset, April 2015 to March 2016, experimental statistics includes information gathered from acute trusts, mental health trusts, GP practices and community services within mental health trusts.
FGM has been illegal in the United Kingdom since 1985 and the law was strengthened in 2003 to prevent girls travelling from the UK and undergoing the procedure abroad.
The figures were recorded by doctors and nurses who have been obliged by law to do so since July 2015 for acute trusts and October 2015 for GP practices and mental health trusts.
Cllr Lisa Brett, FGM spokesperson for the Local Government Association, which runs the National FGM Centre in partnership with Barnardo’s, said: “FGM is child abuse and cannot be justified by reasons of culture, tradition or religion, which is why local authorities are determined to work with their communities to end the practice, which is leaving young girls physically and mentally scarred for life.
She added: “FGM will only be stopped permanently if all agencies, including GP practices, and communities work together to keep women and girls safe.”
Javed Khan, Barnardo’s chief executive, said: “Shockingly, today’s figures confirm that girls born in England have undergone FGM, despite the practice being illegal for over 30 years. Yet there still hasn’t been a single successful prosecution to hold perpetrators to account.
“FGM is child abuse and it’s vital that we work with affected communities to change hearts and minds about the practice. However, agencies must work better together to prosecute those who fail to protect girls from this type of abuse.”
FGM will be discussed at Nursing in Practice events in London and Yorkshire on 6 and 22 September respectively.