Stranger Child Abduction

Action Against Abduction defines stranger child abduction as that perpetrated by someone not known to, or recognised by, the victim¹.

How many children are abducted by a stranger?

Action Against Abduction’s analysis of 2011/12 crime data suggested that approximately 200 attempted abductions by a stranger were recorded by the police in the UK¹. In addition, in roughly 50 cases a stranger succeeded in taking a child; some of these abductions result in sexual assault. Given the substantial increase in the overall number of child abductions recorded by police since 2011/12 it is possible that that the number of stranger abductions may also have increased.


Action Against Abduction’s analysis¹ suggests that:

  • Three-quarters of stranger child abductions are perpetrated against girls.
  • Victims of attempted stranger abduction have an average age of 11 years.
  • Victims of completed abduction (with a clear sexual motive) have an average age of 14 years.
  • Roughly two-thirds of abductions by a stranger involve a perpetrator in a car.
  • Nearly half of attempted abductions by a stranger involve physical contact. Whilst most children suffer no injury, many are grabbed, dragged or held.

The police picture of child abduction is incomplete. Surveys suggest that roughly 1 in every 100 children experiences a stranger trying to lure them away in order to do them harm². Roughly 1 in every 600 children will, at some point in their childhood be made to go with a stranger. Some will be forced to touch, or be touched by, the perpetrator³.

¹ Newiss, G. and Traynor, M. (2013) Taken: A study of child abduction in the UK. London: Parents and Abducted Children Together and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
² Radford, L., Corral, S., Bradley, C., Fisher, H., Bassett, C., Howat, N. and Collishaw, S. (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today. London: NSPCC.
³ Gallagher, B., Bradford, M. and Pease, K. (2008) ‘Attempted and completed incidents of stranger-perpetrated child sexual abuse and abduction.’ Child Abuse and Neglect. 32: 517-528.

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