Child abduction—criminal action and electronic tagging
Child abduction—criminal action and electronic tagging

The following Family practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Child abduction—criminal action and electronic tagging
  • Criminal law
  • Law Commission recommendations
  • Electronic tagging order

This Practice Note explains criminal offences under the Child Abduction Act 1984 (CAA 1984) and also covers electronic tagging and the Law Commission’s recommendations to amend the offences under CAA 1984.

Criminal law

Offences of child abduction were created by CAA 1984.

Subject to the exceptions provided, it is an offence for a person connected with a child under the age of 16 to take or send the child out of the UK without appropriate consent. Exceptions include:

  1. where the person is named in a child arrangements order as a person with whom the child is to live and they take or send the child out of the UK for a period of less than one month, or

  2. where the person is a special guardian of the child, and they take or send the child out of the UK for a period of less than three months

Where an abduction has already taken place, consideration may be given to whether the criminal law is the most effective remedy and whether the institution of criminal proceedings is likely to deter an abductor from returning to England and Wales (or to the country from which the child was removed).

In R v RH, the Court of Appeal provided guidance on sentencing, saying (at paras [4]–[5]):

'[Child abduction] offences can vary widely in terms of gravity and we consider it appropriate to give

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