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I felt completely betrayed, says abduction victim

Nicky Hewitt, who was abducted and taken to Australia by her father when she was 12 years old, has told Daybreak that she had felt "completely betrayed" by both her parents.

She said: "I was completely alone and isolated. We were being used as playing pieces. That then had a massive impact on me, both in the short and long term."


Parental child abductions have 'risen by 88% in a decade'

  • Cases of parental child abduction have risen 88% in just under a decade (2003-2012), the FCO have said.
  • 24% of Britons are unaware parental child abduction is a crime.
  • The FCO's child abduction section received an average of four calls a day between October 2011 and September 2012.
  • The FCO also pointed out that parents may suffer severe financial difficulties as they fight for custody of their child through foreign courts.
  • Further illustrating public misunderstanding, nearly three quarters of those surveyed (74%) thought fathers were more likely to abduct children.
  • But, according to statistics from the Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, 70% of the charity's cases concern mothers taking the child.
  • There are skewed opinions over where children were taken - 71% thought parents most commonly abduct their children to the Middle East, India or Pakistan.

Rise in parental child abduction 'is a major concern'

The increase in parental child abduction cases is a major cause for concern, particularly in the lead-up to the school holidays; we know that before or during school holidays is one of the most common times for a child to be abducted.

We hope that this campaign will help inform and educate the UK public and encourage parents thinking of abducting their child to think twice before they cause significant distress to themselves and their family.

– Daisy Organ, head of the FCO's child abduction section

The implications of parental child abduction

Public understanding of child abduction is low, according to research commissioned by the FCO.

Half the UK population thinks the Government can intervene to ensure an abducted child is returned home, the research carried out by Censuswide showed.

But the reality is that, while help is available, parental child abduction cases can take years to resolve and there is a strong possibility that the child may never be returned, the FCO said.

It is also much harder to return a child from a country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention.


The 1980 Hague Convention

All cases that come under the Hague Convention are dealt with by the Central Authorities in the UK.

To find out which countries are part of this Convention, visit the Hague Conference Website.

If a child has been taken to a country that has not signed the Hague Convention parents may need to apply for custody and permission to bring their child back to the UK through the courts of that country.

What is Parental Child Abduction?

In Scotland, abduction may only be considered a criminal offence where the courts have issued an order concerning custody of the child or their removal from the UK, but a parent may still have rights under civil law.

Parental child abduction cases soar

Cases of parental child abduction have risen 88% in just under a decade (2003-2012), Foreign Office (FCO) figures showed today.

It is against the law for a parent to take a child overseas without permission from others with parental responsibility, but nearly a quarter of Britons (24%) are unaware it is a crime, the figures showed.

The FCO's child abduction section received an average of four calls a day between October 2011 and September 2012, according to the figures.