‘Child abduction – The stats’

Child abduction in England & Wales: the key numbers

How many children are abducted in England and Wales? The abduction and murder of April Jones has pushed the issue onto the front pages, but how common is it?

The latest crime figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, show 532 cases of child abduction reported to police in 2011/12. The figures do not include Scotland, which has a separate justice system.

That figure is down 3% on the previous year and much lower than the high of 1,035 cases in 2004/05.

But, as overall crime is going down too, what do those figures mean? If you look at the rate of child abductions per 100,000 total offences, it shows a small increase on last year, from 13.2 up to 13.4.

Child abductions rate per 100,000 offences

But how does it compare to other offences against children? If you exclude sexual offences, it shows that child abductions were 8% of those offences, so, small compared to child cruelty or neglect, which accounted for 6,081 crimes. This only goes back to 2004, because the law changed that year and created more child sex offences.

What do we know about those abductions? One of the best sources is this report, published last year by the Police Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

It highlighted a Home Office report from 2004, which looked at 798 police reports of child abduction in England and Wales. Just over half (399) were attempted abductions. Out of the 798 reports, 56% (447) involved a stranger, 47% (375) were attempted abductions by a stranger and 9% (72) of all reports were successful child abductions by a stranger; 23% (183) of all reported abductions were parental. Those parental reports are only counted as a child abduction by police if the children are taken abroad.

The full data for child-specific offences is contained on a spreadsheet on this link – click this to view