900 Children Snatched Last Year

Empty swings in a child's playground, movement on one swing
Empty swings in a child's playground, movement on one swing

Almost 900 children were snatched by strangers or their parents in the last year – a fifth more than in previous years.

Police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (Pact) revealed that during 2013-14, kidnappings and abductions of children under 18 rose by 13 per cent since the previous year.

Kidnappings alone, which are defined as using force or fraud to remove a child, increased at a faster rate, rising by 18 per cent over the same period.

Most abductions, 401 out of 559, were carried out by people other than the children's parents, while 321 were kidnapped.

The number of children being abducted by parents was 158, up by six per cent on the previous year.

And the charity believe the increase in numbers since 2012-13 could be down to a different attitude in recording such crimes in the light of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal.

Pact's director of research Geoff Newiss said: "I would imagine that (Rotherham) is something to do with it.

"I wouldn't be surprised if forces are more sensitive now to the need to record what comes their way."

He added: "Our analysis shows quite alarming rises in child abduction and kidnapping over the last two years.

"However, it's difficult to say whether this is a consequence of victims being more likely to report crime, changes in the way police record it, or a genuine increase in offending.

"It is important to stress that child abduction or kidnapping is relatively rare.

"However, we know that many incidents go unreported to, or unrecorded by, the police."

Susannah Drury, Director of Policy for Missing People, said: "The report has uncovered worrying increases in child abductions and kidnapping offences - highlighting the importance of a quick and effective national response to these crimes."

The Association of Chief Police Officers said there has been a significant increase in the recording of these kinds of crimes due to a 'considerable focus' on improving crime-recording practices.