Parental child abductions have risen by 88 per cent in less than a decade, according to new government findings.
Data from the Foreign Office (FCO) shows that the number of children abducted and taken abroad illegally by an estranged parent has increased significantly in under a decade.
A parent has no legal right to take their child from his or her country of residence without permission from the other parent or other people with parental responsibility. However, FCO research suggests that 24 per cent of Britons are unaware that doing so constitutes a crime.
The FCO has launched a new campaign to educate people on this matter. Daisy Organ, the Head of the FCO’s child abduction section, said:
“We hope that this campaign will help inform and educate the UK public and encourage parents thinking of abducting their child to think twice before they cause significant distress to themselves and their family.”
Alison Shalaby, chief executive of charity Reunite, said parental child abduction was a more widespread problem than many people believe:
“It is important to remember that parental child abduction is not faith or country specific Seventy-one per cent of the UK public thought that parents most commonly abduct their children to the Middle East, India and Pakistan but it can happen to anyone, from any background.”
The Hague Convention on child abduction is an international agreement between certain countries that aims to ensure the return of children who are illegally taken abroad by a parent. However, between 2001 and 2011 there was a 206 per cent increase in the number of children taken to a country which has not signed the Convention. In such countries it can be much more difficult to obtain the return of a child.
According to the Foreign Office 74 per cent of people believe fathers are more likely to abduct their child. However, research from Reunite suggests mothers have been the abducting parent in 70 per cent of cases.
If your child has been taken abroad without your consent, contact the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit for help. Reunite also produces a series of child abduction prevention guides specific to certain countries.