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We frequently lobby and this year is no exception.

To recognise the UN International Day of the Girl Child we have lobbied against Female Genital Mutilation for many years, in particular the failure in the UK of prosecution when we know it goes on almost unheeded.  This year we are asking our MPs find out from the Secretary of State for Health, the Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, and his officers, how the mandatory recording by health professionals of the presence of FGM whenever it is identified through the delivery of NHS healthcare is progressing since the introduction of new guidelines last year. Are the Acute Trusts reporting the number of patients who are FGM victims in their active caseload to the Department of Health every month? Are the numbers increasing? If so, is this increase in adult women or girls who come under section 47 of the Children Act 1989? Are they being offered counselling to address any psychological or emotional problems as a result of having undergone such a practice?

We are also lobbying our MPs on the issue of Court Closures in Suffolk  and the mandatory fees now being charged to all who appear at Magistrates Courts.  Magistrates Courts are about local justice and need to be within one hour of people’s homes.  We think anyone in our area living outside of Ipswich (the only court to be retained) would have a problem door to door in that time in particular those living in rural areas north and west of us now that it is proposed to close both Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds courts.  It will not be easy for those who drive and is unlikely to be impossible for those who need to rely on public transport. Ipswich will be the only one retained. A few years back they closed Sudbury and another court.  Furthermore, we’ve no idea how Ipswich will cope with the whole county, it just doesn’t make sense.

Couple this with the charges for court fees currently being made which encourage those without savings to plead guilty even if they are not guilty, it is a travesty of justice in our view.  It fails to understand that many small crimes are committed by those who are mentally ill, in poverty and who do not know where to turn.