A POLICE chief has slammed schools for what he considers to be a lack of ‘co-operation’ in tackling honour-based violence.

Anthony Stansfeld, police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, criticised headteachers in the town for their attitude towards the problem, saying many felt it didn’t exist in their school.

Speaking at the event organised by Jeena International, which took place in Slough on Thursday last week, Mr Stansfeld said schools needed to take more responsibility.

He said: “I find that schools don’t really co-operate on this. Headteachers believe they are slightly above this and have the mentality of 'I don’t have to worry about it in our school’.

His comments at the conference, which was aimed at raising awareness about honour-based violence in the borough, came just days before a report issued by City University in London outlined that no local authority area is free of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The report indicated Slough is home to approximately 2,200 residents who could be victims of FGM.

Earlier this year, the government introduced new legislation meaning professionals such as teachers and health workers are now legally required to report any suspicions of FGM.

Sonia Davies, a counsellor inclusion leader at Penn Wood Primary School, Penn Road, in Slough, was a representative of only two schools – the other being Baylis Court School – who attended the conference at Singh Sabha Sports Centre.

A lot of her work involves supporting families in the community and referring people to the right agencies when in crisis.

Her role at the school is not common in many primary schools in Slough and is not something that is found in every secondary school.

She said: “As a primary school we look at building self esteem, the ability to make decisions, building resilience and being able to say no.”

Ms Davies, who expressed her 'disappointment’ at the lack of schools in attendance last week, explained that age is a big factor with different needs for different age groups in raising awareness.

She said: “I think it needs to be covered in PHSE (Personal, Health, Social and Economic Education) in secondary schools.

“It’s about giving children a place to share how they feel and if they did bring [honour-based violence] issues up, the information needs to be there for them.”

Staff at the school will receive FGM awareness training in the new term.

There was disappointment at the lack of attendance by Slough Borough Council representatives at the event, despite being invited.

Cllr Diana Coad said afterwards: “It was very disappointing there weren’t more schools there and that Slough Borough Council didn’t come, especially considering their record on safeguarding.”

Richard Stokes, former council leader, attended the conference and said afterwards: “Schools, GPs, the police, Slough Borough Council and the Slough Local Safeguarding Children’s Board all need to recognise the problem, adopt pro-active rather than re-active approaches, and co-operate in developing coordinated plans of action.”

Jeena International has launched the #SafeSummer campaign to raise awareness of honour-based violence over the summer holidays – a time when children are taken abroad for FGM ceremonies so they have time to heal before going back to school.