Child kidnapping rise ‘alarming’

Child mortality
Child mortality

Child kidnappings have increased by almost one fifth, police figures compiled by a charity show.

There were almost 900 abductions and kidnappings in the year 2013/2014, the Parents and Abducted Children Together (Pact) report covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland said.

The latest figures show most abductions - 401 of 559 - were carried out by people other than the children’s parents, while 321 children were kidnapped.

Kidnapping, as opposed to abduction, involves the use of force or fraud against the victim.

The increase in numbers since 2012/2013 is “alarming”, Pact’s director of research Geoff Newiss said, but added that the reasons for the rise are not clear.

“It’s difficult to say whether this is a consequence of victims being more likely to report crime, changes in the way police record it, or a genuine increase in offending,” he said, stressing that incidents are still relatively rare.

The figures include both attempted and successful crime.

The report authors said they were unable to get data for Scotland.

The highest rate of child abduction and kidnap was in Northern Ireland, with 11.6 offences per 100,00 children in the 2013/2014, while the lowest was in Wales where there were 4.5 offences per 100,000 children.

London, West Midlands Police, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire all recorded higher rates of child abduction and kidnapping than the national average of 7.4 offences per 100,000 children.

Susannah Drury, director of policy for Missing People, said: “This Pact report provides valuable insights into the scale of child abduction and kidnapping in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The report has uncovered worrying increases in child abductions and kidnapping offences - highlighting the importance of a quick and effective national response to these crimes.”

Ms Drury called on people to sign up to receive Child Rescue Alerts, a partnership between Pact, Missing People, the National Crime Agency and Groupcall which helps to raise the alarm when a child goes missing.

The Association of Chief Police Officers told the Independent on Sunday there has been a significant increase in the recording of these kinds of crimes due to a “considerable focus” on improving crime-recording practices.