A surge in extortion rackets organised by foreign gangs has substantially increased the number of kidnappings in the capital, with the average now running at almost one a day.

The rate of kidnappings has risen sharply in the past seven or eight years. Half of all kidnappers and victims in the capital are foreign nationals, usually from the same ethnic group. Detective Chief Superintendent Sharon Kerr, who heads Scotland Yard's serious and organised crime unit, said the growing number of foreign criminal networks carrying out kidnaps in the city led to increasingly complex and high risk situations.

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