See also, Revisiting child abduction: solving the problems in Nicolaou and Kayani, an exclusive article written by the Law Commission.
The law relating to kidnapping, false imprisonment and child
abduction is due for reform, according to the Law Commission.
In a report published today, Simplification of Criminal Law: Kidnapping and Related Offences (Law Com No 355),
the Commission is recommending
reforms that will clarify the offences of kidnapping and false imprisonment, and
allow for the prosecution of parents who keep their children overseas in
contravention of a court order or without permission of the other parent or
Kidnapping and false imprisonment
The Commission is recommending that the existing common law
offences of kidnapping and false imprisonment be replaced with two new
statutory offences. False imprisonment will be replaced by the statutory
offence of unlawful detention. Kidnapping will become a statutory offence based
on the use or threat of force to take or move the victim.
The new offences will capture the range of criminal conduct covered by the existing law. Defined in
clear, modern language, they will help to clarify the distinction between
kidnapping and false imprisonment, and make both easier to prosecute.
The Commission’s recommended reforms to child abduction are
designed to resolve two specific problems with the current law. The Court of
Appeal has identified the 7-year maximum sentence for child abduction as
being too limited in some extreme cases. To allow the courts to deal adequately
with the gravest cases, the Commission is recommending the maximum sentence be
increased to 14 years.
The courts have also identified a gap in child abduction
law. A parent who takes a child overseas with permission but fails to bring
them home is not committing a child abduction offence under the current law. To
fill this gap, the Commission is recommending that child abduction should be
extended to include cases where a child is lawfully removed from the
UK but then
unlawfully retained abroad.
Professor David Ormerod QC, Law Commissioner for criminal
'The wrongful separation of a child from its parent can have a
devastating effect on all involved. An opportunity exists to introduce reforms
that will modernise and simplify this area of law, and allow the courts to deal
adequately and appropriately with offenders.
The report, Simplification of Criminal Law: Kidnapping and Related Offences (Law Com No 355), is available to download here.
We know that at least 300 children a year are unlawfully
retained overseas, and the problem is growing. Our recommendation will fill
this clear gap in the law.'