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470 children abducted from UK in 2008

Date:11 AUG 2009

Nearly 500 children were reported abducted in 336 separate cases in 2008, according to figures released to The Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

The figure showed a 20 percent increase on the number of reported abductions in 2005.

There were 30 cases of children being taken illegally to Pakistan. Another 23 were taken to the US, 22 to Ireland and 21 to Spain.

Australia, France and Egypt also featured on the list of countries to which children were frequently taken.

In around 40% of cases children were taken to countries not a signatory to the Hague convention. As a result, the government has little power to intervene.

Abductions usually occur when marriages break down between couples of different nationalities, and the parent not awarded legal custody kidnaps their children and flees abroad, the report said.

Figures from Reunite, a UK charity specialising in international parental child abduction, show that since 1995, the number of children abducted from Britain and taken to another country has risen by 93%.