Doctors and NHS trusts have been urged to keep reporting cases of female genital mutilation after new figures showed a slight drop in the number being recorded.
NHS Digital said there were 1,178 newly recorded cases of FGM in England from April to June 2017, down from 1,365 in the previous quarter, of which 19 involved girls under the age of 18 and 16 cases were those in which FGM was undertaken in the UK.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the safer and stronger communities board at the Local Government Association (LGA), said the figures were encouraging but pointed out that fewer GP practices and NHS trusts had submitted attendance records.
He said there had been 12,700 new cases of the practice over the past two years which highlights the challenge to end 'this horrific form of abuse'.
He said: 'It is crucial that health trusts and GP practices continue to submit FGM attendance records to help build reliable and accurate figures reflecting the prevalence of FGM across the country.
'In the areas where the National FGM Centre is working, social work provision to girls and families affected by FGM has been quickly and significantly improved through the intervention of the Centre’s social workers, who are embedded in council safeguarding teams.
He added: 'The Government funding boost for the Centre earlier this year will mean it can continue its pioneering prevention and intervention work, enabling it to continue to have effective impact on reducing FGM by modelling good practice, sharing expert knowledge and building trusting relationships with families and communities with which they are engaged.'
For more on this topic read our feature, 'Tackling FGM at the local level.'