The Foreign Office is dealing with nearly ten child abduction and custody cases a week, the Department has reported.
Government officials were involved in 512 new cases during the year to 2012, the department reports – an increase of 81 per cent in the last nine years. More than half are new cases. Including existing cases, the average number of phone calls relating to this “growing problem” has now reached four per day.
However, many cases go unreported, the department believes, and the number could be much higher “…as parents seek custody of their children through foreign courts or through private family mediation.”
The figures were released to mark International Missing Children’s Day. Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds said:
“Children go missing in a wide range of circumstances and in all cases we are eager to find them and return them to their homes and families. This includes when children are abducted overseas by one of their own parents. These missing children are often overlooked but we must remember that parental child abduction also has a devastating impact on children, destroying their relationship with both parents and isolating them from their home.”
“In 2003/4 the FCO worked on cases in 51 countries; that figure has now risen to 84. This shows just how widespread the problem has become, affecting people from all parts of the world. We will continue to do all we can to provide advice and support to families dealing with international parental child abduction. But these cases are extremely difficult to resolve and the reality is that whilst help is available, parental child abduction cases can take years to resolve.”