Breckland School

Child Abduction

Child abduction is the act of taking a child away from their family, carer or person who has lawful control of the child without consent or lawful justification. Abduction can happen when a child is taken away, sent away or detained.

Child abduction can be committed by parents or other family members; by people known but not related to the victim, such as neighbours, friends and acquaintances; and by strangers.

The Office for National Statistics identifies 4/5 of child abductions recorded by the police as being perpetrated by someone known to the child, whilst 1/5 is not. In 2013/14 police forces in England and Wales recorded 569 offences of child abduction (Office for National Statistics, 2014).

However, many incidents – including abductions by a parent, someone known to the victim and strangers – are not reported to the police.

Four times as many attempted abductions by a stranger (186 in 2011/12) are recorded by police than completed abductions. Nearly two-thirds involved a perpetrator in a vehicle. Whilst most children suffered no injury, nearly half the victims were grabbed, dragged or held by the offender.

Three-quarters of children abducted (or attempted to be abducted) by a stranger are girls. Victims of attempted stranger abduction have an average age of 11 years. Victims of completed abduction (with a clear sexual motive) have an average age of 14 years.

Information taken from