February 23, 2015
British charities are warning that child abductions are on the increase in the country, and that they are four times higher than official figures.
Figures show almost 900 cases were reported in the past year alone.
The data gathered from police forces by the charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (Pact), and seen exclusively by The Independent on Sunday, reveal that kidnappings and abductions of children under 18 rose by 13 percent between 2012-13 and 2013-14 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Kidnappings alone increased faster still, with a rise of 18 percent over the same period.
The abduction of children by people other than their parents – which could include a stranger luring a child into a car with sweets or a teenage girl being taken willingly by an older man – rose twice as fast as parental abductions (14 percent, compared with 6 per cent).
Since the Rotherham scandal, where widespread child sexual abuse took place against girls as young as 12 between 1997 and 2013, councils and police forces have come under greater scrutiny about the way in which they handle child abductions and kidnappings.
Now Peter Saunders, founder of National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) says, “The figures are very, very worrying,” but “it seems the authorities have not been taking these cases seriously enough.”
During 2013-14, 158 children were abducted by parents, 401 children were abducted by people other than their parents, and 321 children were kidnapped. Kidnappings, which are defined by the use of force or fraud to remove a child, include cases such as children taken in return for a ransom or young gang members held by rival factions. One-fifth of all kidnappings recorded by police involve a child victim.
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