500 Children Abducted Every Year In The UK
Nearly 500 children were kidnapped from the United Kingdom and taken abroad last year. These cases generally involve parents from different countries who split up, one parent taking their children to their home country without consent from the other. 336 cases of child abduction were reported in 2005, but the number rose to 470 last year. Summer is the peak season for abductions, as children are taken abroad on summer holidays, never to be returned.
More children were taken illegally to Pakistan than any other country (30 cases in 2008), followed by the USA (23), Ireland (22) and Spain (21). Other abduction hotspots included Australia, France and Egypt.
According to the Guardian, kidnapping cases are becoming increasingly common in the UK, and the paper reports 8 of 14 cases during one day in the family courts involved child abduction. The Guardian also reports the government is powerless to intervene in around half of the kidnapping cases, as the children are taken to countries that have not signed up to the Hague convention.
The increase in cases is an "inevitable consequence of greater migration", according to Andy Elvin, chief executive of the charity International Social Services, which helps parents secure the return of their children. "Child abduction is a growing trend as we have an increasing number of families where at least one parent is originally from overseas," he said.