Approximately 2 children a month are victims of abduction or attempted abduction in Scotland, police figures have shown.
Police Scotland statistics obtained by The Scotsman through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 44 successful or attempted abductions were recorded in Scotland between 2013 and 2014.
The figures also reveal that at least 19 of those 44 cases were carried out by strangers.
The Student spoke to Ian Fleming, a Police Scotland spokesperson on the topic but no official statement was offered.
The Police Scotland statistics show that 12 out of 44 cases between 2013 and 2014 were carried out by a relation of the child. Nine of the remaining cases were committed by an unrelated acquaintance of the family and the remaining 4 by unknown perpetrators.
However, information provided to The Student by Vicky Mayes, the Development and External Communications Officer at Reunite, a UK charity specialising in the movement of children across international borders, suggests that statistics on the abductions are misrepresenting the scope of the issue.
Speaking to The Student, Mayes said: “We believe that there might be more parental child abduction cases than are reported in the Police Scotland statistics that have come from Scotland. Mainly because there is a difference in the criminal law between Scotland and the rest of the UK in that Police Scotland will only recognize a child abduction when there is an interdict in place, a court order saying that child is not to be removed from Scotland.
“Unfortunately, there are children who are removed from Scotland before such things are able to be put into place for them. So, in that situation, the Scottish police don’t have an awful lot of power to help them.”
Reunite only handles cases of parental child abduction, where the child has been removed from the country by either a parent or a family member. Their role is to provide support and guidance to parents who have been affected by cases of child abduction.
They don’t deal with stranger abductions, which Mayes says: “…[is] very much a thing for the police to be dealing with.”
Reunite also doesn’t currently give direct support to children who have previously been abducted but Mayes discusses with The Student how that is something the charity is looking at doing in the future.
Mayes said: “We kind of announced via Facebook a few weeks ago that we are consulting with parents to see if its going to be possible for us to provide a counseling service, not only for parents but also for children as well. And it’s something at the moment we’re trying to get the opinions from parents and also any children that would like to get in contact with us about it all, so that we can look at if that is something that we can provide in the future.
“It’s an area that we are looking to see if its possible really.”
Mayes explained the various circumstances under which a greater proportion of abductions happen. One major factor is whether one parent has links to another country.
Mayes said: “A lot of the abductions will happen when there is a link to another country. In quite a high proportion that is because the parent that has abducted is a national of that country, but it isn’t exclusively that. There are other people who abduct if they have a new partner who is from another country, or you know, they get a really good job opportunity.”
Discussing the importance of a strong support system for children during recovery, Mayes said: “I think there is obviously a great impact on everybody involved, especially the children, and I think it depends on the support that they can receive once back. And part of that is down to the parents, but also to the extended family and also what schools and other bodies can put into place.”
No further information was available on the 19 out of 44 cases that were committed by strangers, but community support and awareness is vital as a preventive measure in all cases.
Image credit: Freaktography