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UK Govt warns fathers about child abduction risk

UK Government warns fathers about child abduction risk

The UK Government is honestly warning UK fathers to watch out for any warning signs that the mother of their children might abduct them. Traditionally, the FINGER was publicly pointed at fathers, despite years of statistical data showing mothers were the culprits in the majority of cases!!…… Being practical, many abductors give very little warning at all. Even when fathers ask caughts to protect their child’s relationship with themself, the caughts override the father’s concerns and allow completely unprotected international travel. They actually scrape more money from abductions, than by saving children from this crime!

The Fatherhood Institute
30 June 2011

Dads warned to look out for signs of parental child abduction

Dads are being advised on how to prevent their children’s mothers abducting
them and taking them abroad.

According to a new Government campaign, every other day a British child is
abducted by a parent to a country which has not signed the 1980 Hague
Convention on international parental child abduction*.

The latest figures represent a ten per cent increase in new cases handled
by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2010/2011 and have been released
to mark the launch of the FCO’s child abduction prevention campaign.

Evidence shows that many cases occur around school holidays when a parent
refuses to return a child following a visit to the parent’s home country.
In most cases these abductions are perpetrated by mothers.

Last year the FCO handled cases in 97 “non Hague” countries** ranging from
Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. These are countries which have not signed up to
the 1980 Hague convention on international parental child abduction and
with whom negotiating the return of children to the UK can be extremely
complex as there are no international agreements on returning children.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Jeremy Browne said the campaign
will help people become more aware of what they could do if they think
their child may be at risk.

“We are very concerned that we continue to see an increase in the number of
cases of international parental child abduction. The latest figures suggest
the problem affects people from all walks of life and not just certain
types of families or particular countries. Finding a solution can be
especially difficult if a child has been taken to a non-Hague country as
there are no international systems in place to help you. This is why
prevention is so important. The FCO will do whatever we can to provide
advice and support but our role is limited, not least because we cannot
interfere in the laws of another country.”

Sharon Cooke, Advice Line Manager for Reunite International Child Abduction
Centre, welcomed the latest advice and said while sometimes there were no
warning signs, there are things people could look for which may indicate
their child was at risk.

“The most obvious warning sign is a break down in a relationship but other
signs may include a sudden interest in getting a passport or copy birth
certificate for the child; a parent expressing a wish to holiday alone with
the child; a change in circumstances such as leaving employment or
redundancy, selling a house or giving up tenancy. There may also be a
sudden change in contact arrangements or constant difficulty in being able
to see the child,” she said.

“For many people the issue of parental child abduction is something with
which they may not have had direct personal contact. There’s often a
perception – fuelled by a number of high profile cases – that it’s about
fathers abducting their children, however statistics show it is mainly
mothers – either intentionally or unintentionally.

Sharon says, “The latest figures show just how widespread this problem has
become. Our statistics for January to May 2011 show a 21% increase in the
number of abductions to non-Hague States states compared to the same period
last year. We have also seen a 21% per cent increase in the number of
parents requesting advice on prevention of abduction. This demonstrates
there is a need for information on preventative steps that a parent can
take and it is essential that we continue to raise awareness of parental
child abduction, after all it could happen to anyone.”

“The psychological impact on children can be traumatic and for the
left-behind parent, the shock and loss are unbearable, particularly if they
don’t know where their child is. Even after they have been found, the fear
and pain of not knowing if they will return home is unimaginable.”

If you are worried your child might be at risk, or if your child has been
abducted you can call the Child Abduction Section at the Foreign Office on
0207 008 0878 or or reunite on 0116 2556 234.

* The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
Abduction is a multi-lateral international treaty the aim of which is the
return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or wrongfully retained
away from the country where he or she normally lives, so that issues of
residence (which parent a child should live with), relocation (which
country a child should live in) and contact (access) can be decided by the
courts of that country. All cases that come under the Hague Convention are
dealt with by one of the three Central Authorities in the UK (the
International Child Abduction and Contact Unit covers England and Wales and
there are two separate bodies for Scotland and Northern Ireland). To find
out which countries are part of this Convention, visit

** Top 5 non-Hague countries with the largest number of new parental child
abductions in 2010/11

Country 2009/2010 2010/2011

All non-Hague countries 146 161

Pakistan 24 21

Thailand 13 13

India 14 9

Algeria 0 9

Malaysia 6 7

Further information on parental child abduction can be found at:
The link above does not work from NZ, as some UK Government websites refuse to serve overseas readers, possibly as a cost saving measure.

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