Almost two children are now being abducted every day, according to new figures released by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and charity, Reunite. Parental child abduction cases have more than doubled over the past decade, from 272 to 580 in 2012/13, driving the FCO to produce a new film showing the consequences of child abduction from both parents' perspectives.
Mark Simmonds, Minister for Consular Affairs, said he was concerned to see an increase in child abduction cases because they can be highly damaging emotionally to both the child and the parents involved.
‘We are launching this awareness campaign in the lead up to Christmas to try to prevent parents from doing something that would cause significant distress to themselves, their family and most importantly to the child. We also encourage parents to look for warning signs that their partner may be considering this. Once children are taken overseas it can be extremely difficult to secure their return to the UK. Many parents are not aware that by abducting their child, they may be committing a crime,' Mr Simmonds said.
Abductions are more likely to take place where there is in a link in the family to more than one country and 70% of cases are mothers abducting rather than fathers.
It is much harder to return a child from a country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention, an international agreement between certain countries which aims to ensure the return of a child who has been abducted by a parent.
As well as emotional distress, both parents may often face severe financial difficulties as they fight for custody of their child through foreign courts. Legal costs overseas and in the UK may continue to mount up for parents, who must bear responsibility for the cost of any legal action taken, even after the child is returned.