In the Media

April Jones abduction: a terrifying and rare crime

PUBLISHED October 2, 2012

It is not known who is behind the disppearance of April Jones, 5, who was last seen getting into a van after cycling with a friend at dusk last night.

But if, as many fear, she was snatched by a stranger, it would be the fulfillment of every parent's darkest fear - and, in modern Britain, a remarkably unusual occurence.

According to a 2011 report by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), around six in ten of the 360,000 missing person incidents in the previous year involved a child under the age of 18.

April's parents are not suspects in this case. However, the overwhelming majority of incidents involve a parent or a family member.

Charlie Hedges, Manager for Missing, Abducted and Kidnapped Children at CEOP said: "Stranger abduction is very unusual. Parental abductions are the majority.

"Whenever there's a dispute between estranged parents one will want to take them so the other can't have them."

The last decade has seen a sharp rise in the number of British children abducted by their mother and father and taken to a country beyond Foreign Office protection, a phenomenon which rose by 10% in 2011 alone.

Mr Hedges added: "The battles that go on in a marriage especially where children are concerned can get very unpleasant.

"The thing that concerns us even more is when one of the estranged parents will take the children, kill them, and commit suicide. A case of 'If I can't have them, no one can'. That's a real concern."