Abductions and kidnappings of children are on the rise with about 900 cases reported in the last year alone. Charities fear that the victim numbers could be four times higher than the official police figures.
Since the Rotherham scandal which revealed widespread child sexual exploitation against girls as young as 12 between 1997 and 2013, councils and police forces have come under increased scrutiny about the manner in which they police the crimes.
Figures gathered from police forces by the charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (Pact); reveal that kidnappings and abductions of teenagers under 18 rose by 13 per cent between 2012 and 2014 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the same data, it was discovered that kidnappings alone increased sharply with a rise of 18 per cent over the same period.
Between 2013 and 2014, 158 children were abducted by parents whilst 401 children were snatched by people other than their parents, and 321 children were kidnapped. A fifth of all kidnappings documented by police involve a child victim. All figures recorded include both successful and attempted crime. However, Pact believes that many cases involving children go unrecorded by the police, and the true rates of offending are quadruple the police figures.
“While the increases in child abduction and child kidnapping offences have been relatively high, the actual incidence of these offences is still relatively rare,” the data revealed. “Including child kidnappings, 7.4 offences of child abduction or kidnapping were recorded per 100,000 children by police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”.
The study also found that parent-to-child abductions are rarely recorded by police. Between 2013 and 2014, only seven offences were recorded in 2013 14, whilst West Yorkshire recorded none. Director of research at Pact, Geoff Newis, said that this figure “beggars belief”, considering the large immigrant population in areas such as Bradford. “I’m more suspicious of really low numbers than high numbers,” he said.
The chief executive of the charity Kidscape, Claude Knights, said the figures were a significant reminder to parents about the need to talk to children about so-called “stranger danger”. “So much work is now done about cyber safety that there is perhaps a tendency to sideline the fact that there are real-life cases of people not known to the child taking them away,” she said. Most children could be easily convinced to follow a stranger, even where parents felt they had talked to them about the risks involved, an experiment carried out by the charity discovered.
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri