Police-Recorded Child Abduction

Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that police in England and Wales recorded

child abduction offences in 2015/16¹

This is the highest in over a decade. Action Against Abduction’s research suggests that this trend is the result of large increases in the number of non-parental child abduction offences².

Action_Against_Abduction_police_recorded_graphThe Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) recorded 43 offences of child abduction in 2015/15, compared to 40 the previous year³.

Police-recorded offences include completed abductions (where a child is actually taken) and attempted abductions. However, many more incidents go unreported to the police and some incidents that are reported may not be recorded.


Police in England and Wales recorded 3,012 kidnappings in 2015/16, an increase of 37% on the previous year¹. The Police Service of Northern Ireland recorded 45 kidnappings in 2014/15, a decrease of 18%³. It is estimated that approximately one-fifth of these offences involve victims under the age of 18².

Scottish offences of abduction and child stealing

In 2014/15 Police Scotland recorded 234 offences of abduction (involving both child and adult victims) and one offence of child stealing/plagium⁴.

¹ Office for National Statistics (2016) Crime in England and Wales, year ending March 2016. Office for National Statistics.
² Newiss, G. (2016) Police-recorded child abduction and kidnapping 2013/14 to 2014/15 England, Wales and Northern Ireland. London: Action Against Abduction.
³Police Service of Northern Ireland (2015) Trends in Police Recorded Crime in Northern Ireland 1998/99 to 2014/15. Belfast: Police Service Northern Ireland.
⁴Scottish Government (2015) correspondence.